Greensburg Salem rides out the storm to defeat West Allegheny
Greensburg Salem had to overcome more than just a pesky West Allegheny team in its WPIAL Class AAA semifinal marathon-of-a-game Thursday afternoon at California (Pa.)'s Lilley Field.
After two days, more than three hours of weather delays and 10 innings, the Golden Lions earned their spot in the championship with a 3-2 victory behind the arm and bat of pitcher Jayne Oberdorf.
“It was up and down. Up yesterday. Down today,” Greensburg Salem coach Jody Morgan said. “We should have never have let it go, but we let it go and came back. I knew we were the better team all along.”
Greensburg Salem (20-2) carried a 2-0 lead through five innings in to Thursday's action, and until that point, Oberdorf allowed only one hit, and the Lions were on their way to exorcising the demons of last year's semifinal walk-off loss to Elizabeth Forward.
But the 12th-seeded Indians had other ideas. Rejuvenated from the long break in action, West Allegheny (12-7) reeled off four-straight singles in its first plate appearance of the new day to even the score, 2-2.
“Oh my goodness,” Oberdorf said of the crazy circumstances surrounding the game. “There was definitely a momentum switch today.”
McKenzie Johnsen's one-out single scored Morgan Partyka before Taylor James's bloop single dropped behind first base, allowing pinch runner Jenny Stiles to score the tying run from third.
“I couldn't be more proud of their effort,” Indians coach Mindi McFate said. “We jumped on them early.”
Just like Wednesday's postponement favored West Allegheny, a two-hour lightning and rain delay Thursday gave Oberdorf and Co. a chance to settle in.
“We all get along so well, so we were just having fun in the dugout and staying loose,” Oberdorf said. “I think it worked out.”
The Marist recruit went on to strike out 12 batters, and in the top of the 10th inning, she smacked a single down the line past third baseman Emily Garvin, scoring Taylor Mehan, who started the inning at second per the international tie-breaker rule.
“She has nerves of steel,” Morgan said. “I'm going to bat with her every time during every game because the kid's a winner, period.”
Even after braving the storm — or storms — the top-seeded Lions still have one more obstacle: Section 1-AAA champ Ambridge (16-3). An obstacle the Lions will gladly face after surviving the strangest 48 hours of their season.
“We're just going to work hard this week,” said Oberdorf, who leads the WPIAL with 19 wins and 210 strikeouts. “Whatever happens, happens.”
“I'm glad we don't have to see this field for another week,” Morgan said.
The Class AAA championship game will be 7 p.m. May 30 at California (Pa.).
Justin Criado is a freelance writer.