West Allegheny's Lach comes through in quarterfinal win over EF
Brianna Lach knew something had to change when she came to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning.
During her first two plate appearances in West Allegheny's WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinal playoff game against Elizabeth Forward, not only did she strike out twice, but Portia McBride made her look foolish in the process.
That changed in the most critical of moments.
Lach “scooched up to the plate a little” and golfed a two-out RBI double into the gap in right-center field, scoring the game's only run as West Allegheny (12-6) advanced to Wednesday's semifinals with a 1-0 upset over Elizabeth Forward (17-5) at Baldwin.
West Allegheny will play Greensburg Salem, a 2-0 winner over Blackhawk, on Wednesday at a site to be determined, and the Indians Lach to thank for that.
Lach also tossed a shutout, striking out six and allowing only three singles.
It was the first time that EF was shutout dating back to last year's Class AAA title game.
“It was a dogfight the whole way and there wasn't a lot of hitting and it was kind of a mess,” West Allegheny coach Mindi McFate said. “I told them that's the great thing about sports. It only takes one moment, one big hit to totally change the momentum of the game.”
Lach provided that against a dominant pitcher in McBride.
McBride retired the first 13 batters she faced and took a perfect game into the fifth inning.
“I've been a part of a lot of games like this in my career where one base error, one hit leads to the one run,” Elizabeth Forward coach Harry Rutherford said.
Little did he know that the sixth would provide all three — the error, the hit and the run — for West Allegheny.
EF second baseman Kelsey Benedek misplayed a leadoff liner hit by Lexi Cogis. After a sacrifice by Rachel Marx and a popout by Brooke Bagnell, Lach came to the plate with two outs and a chance to put her team ahead.
“I knew I had to get a hit, especially since I struck out the first two times,” Lach said. “I just felt like this could be the moment.”
Lach smacked a shot to the gap in right center, plating pinch runner Danna Heh with the only run of the game.
“The pitch was where it was supposed to be,” Rutherford said. “The batter went down and got a pitch we didn't think she could hit and drove it out there.”
Elizabeth Forward had its chance in the top of the inning.
Courtney Hrabosky led the inning off with the walk, then moved to second when Caitlyn Arico singled with one out to bring up cleanup hitter Virginia Roche, who walked and struck out in her first two at-bats.
Rutherford decided to sacrifice the runners instead allowing Roche to hit away. McKenna Kern then popped out to first base to end the inning.
“(Roche) didn't have real good at-bats,” Rutherford said. “If she would've made decent contact, I might've let her swing away. I was going to take a shot with two outs to get a base hit. We had our opportunity right there.”
It was the only real chance EF had against Lach.
“I can't complain about the game,” Rutherford said. “We did as well as we could, but they just did one better.”