Charleroi goes to great pains in win
CHARLEROI - The Charleroi Magicians baseball team presents: winning made painful.
Charleroi right fielder Dave Wachinski snagged the game-ending out while his face collided with center fielder Joe Capelli's knee as the two crossed paths. Afterward, Wachinski raised his glove aloft while he remained slumped in the outfield grass.
The base umpire ruled Wachinski held on - and so did Charleroi (15-17) - for a laborious 5-4 win in the Region 6 American Legion tournament. Teammates and coaches ran out to check on Wachinski, who soon walked in under his own power.
"They both didn't communicate before and Dave just took charge," Charleroi coach Tom Hartman said. "It was a heck of a catch; he took a knee right to the eye, but Dave's a clutch player and he came up holding the ball."
With Charleroi clinging to the one-run lead, Mt. Lebanon (13-12-1) had the tying and go-ahead runs on base before Wachinski's gem. Dan Torcasi drew a walk after Pat Santone and Drew Isler torched relief pitcher Jody Wilkerson for two doubles - all with Charleroi needing just one more out for the victory.
Pinch-hitter Jack Millhouse then lifted a drive to the right-center field gap. Wachinski and Capelli, who had miscommunicated on a previous double, drifted back until Wachinski took charge at the last moment and collided with his teammate.
"They hit two curveballs on those doubles and when that ball went between Dave and Joe, I'm thinking the season's over and I'm going to come here and be a spectator tomorrow," Hartman said. "At that point, you're thinking about losing the game and answering questions about why you brought Jody in instead of Keith (Carson)."
Hartman felt Wachinski saved a potential inside-the-park home run.
"You know, if Dave doesn't catch that, the batter is still running," Hartman noted, "and we go into the bottom of the ninth down by two."
Speaking of a painful experience, Charleroi's starting pitcher Matt Nelson was watching helplessly from the dugout. Nelson had pitched effectively for 8 2/3 innings, but left after making quick work of the first two Mt. Lebanon batters in the final frame. He had pitched the maximum 12 innings at that very point so, under league rules, could not stay in to get the final out.
"I was just kind of like, 'Oh man,'" Nelson said of Mt. Lebanon's final fly ball. "I was hoping they had it. I had a feeling and saw Dave pull up with it and I knew he had it. I pitched the whole game and that stunk having to come out, but there's nothing I could do about that."
Despite the undo stress, Nelson finished with the win. He scattered 10 hits, giving up three runs, two of them earned, and striking out five. Mt. Lebanon right-hander Ryan Eckenrode took the loss in relief of starter Chris Mathews.
Its coach, Dave Dougherty, refused to answer questions after the game.
"I have nothing to say; I better keep my mouth shut," Dougherty said, walking away. "It was a great game, that's all I'll say."
The teams exchanged leads three times before Mt. Lebanon went ahead, 3-2, in the sixth. Torcasi led off with a triple to the left-center fence and scored on Mathews' single.
Charleroi, though, answered with two outs in the home half on Eugene Lanacas' two-out single that brought home Jordan White and Capelli. The latter slid head-first, brushing his hand across home plate right before catcher Jeff Elias applied the tag.
"We didn't have that real big inning," Hartman said. "They didn't score five or six runs like (Shaler) did yesterday on our errors."
The Magicians tacked on the eventual winning run in the seventh when Wilkerson doubled and scored on Nelson's two-out single. Nelson quietly led the Charleroi offense, finishing 3-for-4 with two RBI.
"I came out today with a positive attitude, feeling a lot better than yesterday," Nelson said about Charleroi's 10-6 loss to Shaler. "We just make things a lot harder."
Wachinski wasn't the only one feeling pain, though.
Mt. Lebanon's Ryan Mageras offered to speak for his coach, but the center fielder soon turned and walked away mid-sentence.
"We didn't really play our best game today," Mageras said. "It's was nice to come back, but it was definitely disappointing. That's about it."
NOTES: Allegheny's top two teams, Mt. Lebanon and Robinson Township, are now eliminated ... Charleroi plays Mars at 1 p.m. today at Veterans Field. Carson or Wilkerson will get the start ... Santone led Mt. Lebanon, going 3-for-4 with a double ... After his second error of the game, shortstop Frank McLaughlin met with Nelson to calm the pitcher down in the sixth. Nelson responded by getting the next two batters and leave two runners stranded ... No other Magician had a multiple hit game, but Capelli and Dan Thomas both reached base twice ... McLaughlin appeared to launch at-least a triple to lead off the fourth, but the ball rolled under the fence for a book-rule double ... Mathews set the first eight Charleroi batters down in order before Wachinski's single. Arm trouble that occurred in the third inning forced him from the game in the fourth.