Kirby leads Keystone to Game 2 victory
INDIANA -- Keystone Rehab took a page out of Gorell Windows' notebook Monday to even the best-of-three series in the Indiana County Junior Legion baseball playoff semifinals.
After losing the first game 5-4 to Gorell because of costly errors, Keystone Rehab took advantage of a trio of third-inning miscues in Game 2 to overcome a one-run deficit en route to a 4-3 victory at White Township Recreation Complex.
Trailing 2-1 heading into the bottom of the third inning, Keystone Rehab's Anthony Piccolini and Matt Rochna scored when teammate Steve VanSant's infield grounder was misplayed by Gorell second baseman Mike Panchik. Josh Doran later scored to give Keystone Rehab a lead it would never relinquish.
Gorell looked as if it would begin the second game where it had left off in Game 1, as it took the game's initial lead, 2-0, in the first inning after back-to-back doubles by Eric Cusimano and Gabe Wolford led to both tallies, scoring Craig Ciranni, who reached base on an error, and Cusimano.
Keystone cut the lead in half, 2-1, in the bottom half of the first when Van Sant ripped a single to right field to plate Rochna.
Nonetheless, Gorell's first inning brought back unpleasant memories of the first game for Keystone Rehab manager Tony Reid.
"We started the first inning the same way by make two errors, but they came in and settled down and scored our first run, and I think that took a lot of pressure off us, knowing we could come back," said Reid.
However, the big storyline was Keystone's winning pitcher Dan Kirby, who kept Gorell's big hitters at bay most of the game by limiting them to just three hits.
Even though the right-hander recorded only two strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings of work, it was his ability to mix his breaking ball with his change-ups that proved to be the difference in the contest.
"Dan has an average fast ball, but he can change speeds, and he has a nice curve ball," said Reid. "That's what he lives on. When you throw your best breaking ball or change-up, you can neutralize the best power hitters in the game by keeping them off stride, and that's what he did."
Kirby threw a total of 102 pitches with 67 of them resulting in strikes, before being relieved by Brandon Erdely, who picked up the save, with one out in the top of the seventh.
Kirby's pitching performance didn't go unnoticed by Gorell manager Dave Caruso, who also believed his team might have played a role reversal from Game 1.
"I think we were over anxious," said Caruso. "We swung at a lot of bad pitches, but (Kirby) kept us off-balance and pitched an outstanding game.
"We were the team making errors tonight. We were a little flat, and we didn't make the plays. We didn't do the small things that you need to do to win."
Gorell nearly pulled off a comeback in its final at-bat after Ciranni, who suffered the mound setback, striking out seven and walking seven, belted a solo home run to left-center field with one out, but Keystone managed to retire the next two batters to hold on for the victory.
"Our strategy in that last inning was to get one of the first two batters out because we knew that neither one could beat us, and it worked," Reid said. "However, we knew if that didn't happen, Cusimano could beat us with a three-run homer."