Big inning carries Bushy Run past Kiski Valley in District 31 quarterfinals
Kiski Valley had enough opportunities in the early innings of the deciding game of its District 31 quarterfinal against Bushy Run that the outcome remained in doubt late.
One big inning erased any uncertainty.
Bushy Run, the defending district champion, scored seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to break the game wide open and rolled to an 11-2 victory over Kiski Valley in the third game of their best-of-three series Wednesday at Penn-Trafford High School.
“They’re a good team, but uncharacteristically today they made a lot of mistakes,” Bushy Run coach Scott Peyman said. “We made some to match them early, but once we got straightened out, they kept making them (and) we didn’t. That’s how we won the game.”
For the second consecutive game, Kiski Valley’s defensive troubles helped Bushy Run post a lopsided win. After committing nine errors in a 9-2 loss Tuesday, the Vikings (11-12) had another seven Wednesday: three in Bushy Run’s two-run first inning and the other four in the seven-run fifth.
“It really surprised me, and I think everybody else on the team,” Kiski Valley shortstop Sean Furlong said. “We’ve been pretty solid the whole year on defense, and the past two days, you make eight-plus errors, you’re not going to win any games like that.”
No. 3 Bushy Run (17-6), which advances to play No. 2 Hempfield East in the best-of-three semifinals beginning Friday at Hempfield High School, sent 11 batters to the plate in the big fifth inning. Mario Disso led off with a triple to the wall in right and added a double to drive in the final two runs. Jon Peduzzi hit a two-run single, part of a four-RBI performance.
“You play more relaxed, the game becomes easier and it’s just a better game (after that),” Peduzzi said.
The early innings of the game were tight.
Kiski Valley, the sixth seed, took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Peduzzi’s throw home on Tyler Johnson’s ground ball to shortstop sailed over catcher Josh Hough’s head, allowing Jack Henderson to score. But despite having the bases loaded with no outs, Kiski Valley managed just the one run as Disso induced a double play on a grounder back to the mound and got a strikeout for the final out.
“Early in the game, we had our big opportunity,” said Furlong, who had two hits and scored a tying run in the second inning on an errant pickoff throw. “In (the fifth) inning, they had their big opportunity. The difference was they just converted on everything and we didn’t.”
That wasn’t the only missed scoring opportunity for Kiski Valley early. Bushy Run center fielder Jordan Sabol threw a runner out at the plate to end the second inning, and second baseman Tanner Lewis nabbed another runner at the plate in the third. Those defensive plays helped Bushy Run overcome its own four-error performance.
“That double play on the bases loaded was huge,” Peyman said. “We did a lot of good things, too, but we’ve got to clean some things up.”
Peduzzi’s two-out, opposite-field single gave Bushy Run the lead for good in the bottom of the third inning, and Sabol pitched four scoreless innings in relief of starter Disso. Tyler Chrise and Hough contributed two hits apiece, and Bushy Run stole six bases, including Luke Fabac’s swipe of home in the first inning.
Bushy Run won for the 10th time in 11 games, the only loss coming in Monday’s series opener to Kiski Valley, a defeat that left the team with no margin for error in the series.
“Adversity, that’s all it is — you’ve got to come over it,” Peduzzi said. “The first game, we came out short, and the next two games we kicked it back and we’re good to go.”
Neither Chrise nor Max Pici, Bushy Run’s top two pitchers, pitched against Kiski Valley, leaving both available for the semifinal series against Hempfield East.
Kiski Valley, the district champion in 2016, saw its postseason run end in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive summer.
“We have a couple people leaving like every other team, but we’re young,” Furlong said. “We still have room to develop, and I think we’ll come back next year and be even better.”
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.