Ace lefty Enzo Lio lifts Riverview past Charleroi in Class 2A 1st round

Thursday, May 18, 2023 | 9:10 PM

Riverview entered the WPIAL baseball playoffs as an unheralded No. 10 seed, but the Raiders had their ace lefty on the mound in the first round Thursday against No. 7 Charleroi.

That’s usually a recipe for success.

Enzo Lio pitched 5 2/3 effective innings before reaching the 100-pitch count limit and giving way to right-hander Ben Hower, and Riverview scored five runs on just three hits in the second inning en route to a 7-2 victory at Gateway.

Riverview (10-7), which stopped a three-game losing streak, advances to play No. 2 Seton La Salle in the quarterfinals Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.

“We just need to bring it, like we did today. That’s all you can do,” Riverview coach Bill Gras said.

Though outhit 7-6, Riverview benefitted from four Charleroi errors to take control.

Lio and Hower did the rest.

Lio, who came in with a 5-1 record and a 0.90 ERA, scattered six hits and finished with seven strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter before being lifted. Hower retired the final four Charleroi batters after yielding Ben Shields’ RBI single in the sixth.

“Those guys have been doing that all year long,” Gras said. “We don’t play again until Tuesday, so they should be ready to go by then.”

Luke Migely and Jack Loughren hit back-to-back two-run doubles during Riverview’s five-run second-inning uprising that saw the Raiders send nine batters to the plate.

“The boys came today ready to hit,” Gras said. “They put the ball on the bat, and when you do that, good things happen.”

Riverview batters struck out just four times, all against Charleroi reliever Kaden Woods, who yielded just two runs over the final 5 2/3 innings after replacing Shields, the starter, in the second.

“We got off to a bad start, a bad one inning, really,” Charleroi coach Luke Mollis said. “But we didn’t do enough, offensively, at all. You can’t leave 10 guys on base.”

Charleroi (12-5), which won five of its final six regular-season games, put a runner on with one out in the first, two on with one out in the second and loaded the bases with one out in the third against Lio but failed to score on each occasion.

The Cougars finally got to the senior left-hander in the fourth. Shields doubled off the left-field wall, scoring Jake Beveridge, who reached on an error, advanced to second on a sacrifice by Jace Pager and trotted to third when Joe Campbell hit into a fielder’s choice.

“Certainly had our chances, put a lot of runners on,” Mollis said. “We just couldn’t come up with the big hits when we needed them. A couple of errors killed us.”

Charleroi committed a total of four miscues.

“It’s one of the worst games we’ve played as far as not executing with guys on base,” Mollis said. “And then, making a couple of costly errors. Our fielding has been very clean all year, for the most part. We get on turf and we make a couple of errors.”

Gras said it had been a while since Riverview played on an artificial surface, prompting him to seek a suitable solution.

“We’ve played on a lot of turf, but not lately,” he said. “We’ve been on grass the last probably six or eight games. Early on, we played an exhibition here against Gateway. We have a turf jumping pit at our track and a turf track, so we took ground balls down there a couple of times this week to get conditioned for this. I just thought we needed to get some more experience.”

Gateway is in the process of completing a major expansion to its athletic complex with the construction of a multi-purpose field adjacent to its recently completed baseball and softball facilities, all situated on the school’s Monroeville campus, near Antimarino Stadium.

Riverview made it 7-1 in the sixth despite getting just one hit. Cam Shane singled and stole second and third before scoring on a throwing error. Then Migely, who walked, eventually scored on a balk by Woods.

After Lio issued a leadoff walk to Tyler O’Neil to start the sixth, he retired the next two batters before reaching his pitch limit.

Hower came on and walked Campbell before giving up Shields’ RBI single, accounting for the Cougars’ final run.

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