No. 7 Chartiers Valley bounces defending champion Latrobe in Class 5A first round

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018 | 8:33 PM


At the height of its power last season in the WPIAL and PIAA postseason, Latrobe baseball was unstoppable.

The Wildcats were a seasoned and talented team of kick-seekers who didn't stop until the largest trophies belonged to them.

“That was a great group, but they lost a lot of quality guys,” Chartiers Valley coach Curt Cairns said. “I know our guys wanted to get back at them.”

Latrobe defeated Chartiers Valley on the way to glory last season, in the WPIAL semifinals, at West Mifflin. On Tuesday afternoon, at the same place, the Colts returned the favor in a big way as they look to pursue a championship chase of their own.

No. 7 seed Chartiers Valley pounded the baseball from the start and piled up extra-base hits to subdue the No. 10 Wildcats, 12-2, in five innings in a WPIAL Class 5A first-round playoff game.

“We wanted it to be our turn to move on,” said junior Jason Orzechowski, who went 3 for 3 with a double and six RBIs for the Colts (10-7), who will play section rival and No. 2 West Allegheny in Monday's quarterfinals. “We wanted another shot to beat them.”

And the Colts showed that early.

It quickly was 3-0 in the first when Reed Bruggeman and Zach Pilossoph, who also went 3 for 3, hit consecutive doubles. Cayson O'Keefe drove both of them in with a triple and Orzechowski followed with a single.

Latrobe (11-10) changed pitchers, going with Jake Bradish in place of Adam Wolford, but the Colts continued to get the bat on the ball in the third when they posted four runs.

After two singles and a walk loaded the bases, Orzechowski launched a bases-clearing double deep to center.

A sacrifice fly from Hunter Gordon made it 7-0.

“They came out with some great approaches,” Latrobe coach Matt Basciano said of Chartiers Valley. “We missed some spots, and they took advantage of it. Give them credit. They played a great game.”

Two runs came in for Latrobe in the fourth when Ben Rafferty doubled and Wolford grounded out.

The momentum was fleeting.

Chartiers Valley brought the 10-run mercy rule into play in the fourth as Pilossoph doubled home a run, Orzechowski drove in two with a single, and Gordon ripped a two-run double to swell the advantage to 12-2.

Griffin Clark pitched for the Wildcats late in the inning but the damage was done. After a 1-2-3 top of the fifth, the Colts advanced.

“We couldn't have drawn this one up any better,” Cairns said. “We started our running game, and they started throwing fastballs. Orz was en fuego. He is pounding the ball, and that's a testament to the work he has put in.”

Latrobe struggled late in the season, also getting 10-runned by Franklin Regional, 15-0, and losing to neighboring rival Derry, a non-playoff team, 6-0.

“We had a season of ups and downs,” Basciano said. “We tried to forge a new identity. Our guys battled … it could have been worse. Hopefully, the guys coming back will be more focused and see what it takes to win.”

Rafferty and Shaw each had two hits for Latrobe.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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