Fast start helps Bushy Run tie District 31 Legion quarterfinal series with Kiski Valley
Bushy Run’s players got a brief message from their travel coach shortly before the second game of their District 31 quarterfinal series against Kiski Valley: “Grip it and rip it.”
Consider it done.
The defending district champions jumped all over Kiski Valley for a 9-2 victory Tuesday night at Freeport Community Park, evening their best-of-three series at one and thus keeping their season alive.
“That’s why you have three-game series,” Bushy Run manager Scott Peyman said. “This is baseball. Anything can happen, and anybody can beat anybody at any time, but usually the best team wins these series. Hopefully, that’s us.”
Coming off a 5-3 loss in the first game of the series Monday, No. 3 Bushy Run (16-6) took a lead only two batters into the game and never looked back to set up a winner-take-all game at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Penn-Trafford High School.
Bushy Run collected nine hits, including three from Luke Fabac, but it also took advantage of a Kiski Valley defense that committed nine errors.
“We hit the ball today,” said Mario Disso, who doubled and drove in two runs. “We put the ball in play, made them make errors. That’s what we needed to do.
“Coach has been saying (to) take the freebies all year. When they give you freebies, we have to capitalize on them. That’s what we did.”
The errors — all nine of which came in the first four innings, when Bushy Run scored all of its runs — created a hole too deep for No. 6 Kiski Valley (11-11) to climb out of.
A 20-minute rain delay in the fifth inning stopped Bushy Run’s scoring, but it couldn’t save Kiski Valley.
“I felt like I’ve been here a month,” Kiski Valley coach Dave Montgomery said. “It is what it is. They’re a good team, and you can’t give anybody (that many) errors. We started off bad and we ended bad, and everything in between wasn’t much better.”
Kiski Valley starter Sean Furlong, who got the save in Monday’s win, yielded nine runs — three earned — in 3 2/3 innings of work.
“Sean deserved a better fate tonight,” Montgomery said. “… But I don’t care if we have Tom Seaver. If nobody can catch a ground ball, it doesn’t matter.”
Bushy Run turned to Trevor Wilson, who just finished his freshman season at Penn-Trafford and limited Kiski Valley to two runs, just one earned, in 5 1/3 innings.
“That kid’s 15 years old,” Peyman said. “For him to compete at this level, he’s a freshman. I went with him because he pitched against them during the regular season and had good numbers, so I’m extremely pleased with such a young pitcher pitching so well.”
Jordan Sabol led off the game with a ringing triple for Bushy Run, and Disso followed with a sacrifice fly for the early lead. Bushy Run added two runs apiece in the second and third innings and four more in the third.
Kiski Valley scored single runs in the third and fifth innings. The Vikings had seven hits, all singles.
“If we don’t pick up the defense and give them three outs an inning, we’re going home,” Montgomery said. “It’s that simple.
“… We’re hoping we have a short memory for (Wednesday) night to see if we can do more like we did (Monday) night and less like we did tonight.”
Bushy Run has ace Max Pici available to pitch Wednesday, and Montgomery said he has some options to consider.
“Getting off to a fast start makes everybody relax, especially when you’re in an elimination game,” Peyman said. “At least for us, (Tuesday) was an elimination game. Now (Wednesday), they’re going to feel what we felt.”