Latrobe baseball team moves on to PIAA title game
SCOTLAND — Latrobe didn't flinch when Springfield-Delco put the tying run on second base with two outs in top of the seventh inning during Monday's PIAA Class 5A baseball semifinal.
Instead of panicking, senior pitcher Ryan Shawley bowed his neck and got Brandon DiChiacchio to fly out to end the game.
Shawley pitched a masterful three-hitter, and sophomore Isaac Echard provided the offense to lead Latrobe to a 2-1 victory at Greene Township Park and a berth in the championship game 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Penn State.
The Wildcats (23-2) will face District 11 champion Whitehall, which defeated Wallenpaupack, 6-2.
“We have a checklist hanging in the locker room back at home, and now we can add to it,” Latrobe coach Matt Basciano said. “One more game, that's the approach we take. I got a little emotional about it because I don't want this season to end.
“These kids deserve it with the amount of work they put in. They are so coachable, and they never stop working to improve. They'll be back at it Tuesday.”
Shawley outdueled Springfield pitcher Jared Morris. Neither offense did much. The game finished in an hour and 25 minutes.
Latrobe scored twice in the second inning on an RBI single by Echard to score Ryan Augustine, who had singled. Echard came around to score on two stolen bases and a throwing error.
“Coach wants us to be aggressive on the bases,” Echard said. “We had the green light. On the steal of third, I was getting a good lead off second and took off.”
The steal forced an errant throw from catcher Andrew Todaro.
Springfield scored in the third on a double steal when Latrobe elected to take the out at second, which allowed Dave Bingaman, who had doubled, to score from third.
“We hit too many fly balls and didn't get many good swings against him,” Springfield coach Brian Francis said about Shawley. “We've faced faster pitchers, but he threw strikes and his off-speed stuff was good. The throwing error hurt, but you have to score more than one run.”
Shawley walked one and struck out six. Morris allowed four hits, had no walks and fanned four.
Tyler Roble had two hits for the Wildcats.
“I was just focused on pounding the strike zone and let my team do the work behind me,” Shawley said. “It ended up working out for me. Our defense was stellar. I'm glad they had my back, and it's easy to pitch when your defense has your back.”
This is a year of firsts for the Wildcats: a WPIAL title and a spot in the PIAA title game. The 1985 team came up short in both.
“We've been chasing the 1985 team's marks all year,” Shawley said. “This season is a dream come true. We're the first team in the state finals, and everyone will be chasing us.
“This feels great to go down in history with these guys. It's amazing.”