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Peters Township tops McDowell

| Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Peters Township's offense wasn't on full display during the Indians' PIAA Class AAAA first-round baseball playoff game Monday, but it didn't need to be.

District 10 champion McDowell's pitchers had control problems throughout the afternoon, walking six batters and hitting another in the first two innings, as Peters Township took advantage and won, 10-0, in five innings at North Allegheny.

"I know my pitchers are disappointed in themselves because we're not accustomed to giving up that many walks," McDowell coach Mike Hayes said. "We usually control the game. Momentum usually swings our way."

The momentum swung to the Indians (19-6) early.

McDowell starting pitcher Ryan Skellie was chased in the second inning after he gave up an RBI single to Austin Hancock and loaded the bases without getting a man out. And his replacement, Tyler DeCrapio, was unable to get the Trojans (19-4) out of trouble.

DeCrapio walked the first batter he faced, scoring a run, as the Indians went up, 2-0. Then, Pete Ross broke the game open with a two-run single. By the time the inning ended, every Indians batter in the lineup had reached base.

"To get to the (WPIAL) championship (last month), we didn't hit the ball as well. We relied on our pitching and defense," Peters Township coach Joe Maize said. "Today, I told them 'We put everything together.' "

That included a one-hitter from Indians pitcher Nick Merich, who had five strikeouts in five innings. While Merich wasn't happy about giving up four walks and hitting two batters, he said he still felt calm and confident on the mound.

"I let the fielders do their jobs, rather than just trying to strike every guy out," Merich said. "It really helped me."

In the third inning, the Indians stretched their lead to 6-0 with a two-out RBI double from Jim Rider. Pat Gallagher added a two-run double in the fourth.

McDowell was close to hanging around for another inning, but Peters Township rattled off four consecutive hits, with RBI singles from Ross and James Stratico.

"The way we've been hitting the ball is better than any other team I've seen," Merich said. "Our one through nine is tough. That's one of the best things about our team is every kid can do something."

Indians standout Jordan Jankowski may have added a new skill -- playing while half asleep. The senior pitcher/catcher was in Texas over the weekend, working out at a pre-major-league draft camp for the Houston Astros. He got home about 3 a.m. yesterday.

Though he was deprived of sleep, Jankowski made it to school and was able to play against the Trojans. The slugger, who entered the game with a .696 on-base percentage and a .538 batting average was 1 for 1, drawing two intentional walks and getting hit by a pitch. His single was in the decisive fifth inning.

"The thing that's nice about (Jankowski) is to see him grow from his freshman year to his senior year," Maize said. "He realizes a walk is just as important as a base hit."

Peters Township will face Section 3 rival Canon-McMillan in the second round Thursday. The Indians were 2-1 against the Big Macs this season.

"I don't think it will be hard to get up for the game," Maize said. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for their players."

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