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Sophomore leads Peters Twp into WPIAL semis

| Sunday, May 23, 2004

The Peters Township baseball team has seven seniors headed to play college baseball next year, but one of the heroes Saturday was a kid who's not even old enough to drive.

Sophomore Jason Conley, a 15-year-old right-hander, pitched Peters Township to a 9-5 victory over Seneca Valley in a WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinal game at Matulevic Field in Shaler.

"I was a little nervous," Conley said. "But everybody's a little nervous when they pitch."

Conley allowed three earned runs on five hits in six innings. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder struck out eight and walked none against the Section 5-AAA champion Raiders. Seneca Valley's three through six hitters went a combined 0 for 12 with five strikeouts.

"He did a great job of keeping us off balance," Seneca Valley coach Eric Semega said. "For whatever reason, we looked at a lot of pitches down the middle. He wasn't anything that we haven't seen this year in terms of velocity or curveball. We've seen better. But you've got to give him credit, because he was doing something right out there."

Peters Township scattered 11 hits -- Aaron Janusey's three-run homer and 10 singles -- against three Seneca Valley pitchers.

Leftfielder Ryan Maize went 1 for 3 with three runs scored. Janusey went 2 for 3 with a three-run homer in the first inning that gave Peters Township the lead for good. Jim Gallagher went 2 for 3 with one run scored, an RBI and a stolen base. He also got the game's final three outs in his third pitching appearance of the season.

The Indians (15-6) will play No. 2-seed North Allegheny (19-3) at 4 p.m. on Monday at Pullman Park in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals.

Conley was pressed into the rotation this season when Duke recruit Gallagher sustained a broken thumb in late March.

"With me going down with the injury, he stepped up tremendously, and that's something that we needed," Gallagher said. "He did a phenomenal job."

The win improved Conley to 4-1 and gives the PIAA playoff-bound Indians a deep staff behind Pitt recruit Anthony Rossi, Gallagher and Kevin MacIntyre.

Gallagher, a left-hander, allowed two hits and no runs in one inning of relief.

"I felt great," he said. "This is the best my arm has felt since I came back from the thumb injury. I'm really happy I was able to pitch well. I really wanted to get an inning in there."

Seneca Valley (18-4) scored without a hit in the first inning, but Janusey's three-run homer off Raider starter Scott Carney in the bottom of the inning gave Peters Township to a 3-1 lead.

"They took advantage of a high pitch, and he put it out of the field," Semega said. "Now we're on our heels. That changed the whole complexion of the game."

Peters Township added three runs in the second inning on three singles, an error and a wild pitch, and two runs in the fourth on three more singles.

"We said, fellas there are times when we don't need the home run ball," Peters Township coach Joe Maize said. "We need the ball in play. We need the single. You don't have to win it all at one time."

Seneca Valley pulled to within 8-4 in the fifth, but Conley got shortstop Chris Tremblay to pop out to second to end the inning.

"We've been down before," Semega said. "But we just couldn't get out of the hole today."

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