After controversial call in 7th inning, Penn-Trafford’s PIAA playoff run ends with loss to Hollidaysburg

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Thursday, June 6, 2024 | 10:10 PM


JOHNSTOWN — This wasn’t the way the Penn-Trafford baseball team wanted to end its season, especially on a questionable call in the top of the seventh inning.

That call left both teams wondering if a ball down the left-field line was fair or foul in a 3-2 win for Hollidaysburg in the PIAA Class 5A quarterfinals Thursday.

Neither the home plate nor the third-base umpire made a call on a line drive by Hollidaysburg’s Jake Hileman. They didn’t signal fair until after they talked about it.

Hollidaysburg catcher Cayden Gibbons, whose sacrifice fly drove in Hileman with the winning run in a 3-2 game, said it’s not his job to question the umpires’ call.

“You got to live with what he calls,” Gibbons said. “If there is a ball down the middle of the plate and he calls a ball, you have to move on. That was their call.”

After Hileman’s hit was ruled fair for a double, he moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on the sacrifice fly by Gibbons.

“All I was looking for was to make good contact,” Gibbons said. “Luckily, I did.”

Hollidaysburg coach Jon Szynal said he didn’t get a good look at it because the ball was hit so hard. He was just glad it was ruled fair.

“We talked about it that the recipe in these games is keep it close, get a big hit, play defense and get good pitching,” Szynal said. “That’s what we got, and it worked out. When neither umpire made a call, I figured it was fair.”

Penn-Trafford (21-4) ended its season like it did in 2023 with a PIAA quarterfinal-round loss.

“I’m not going to blame the umpires,” Penn-Trafford coach Lou Cortazzo said. “We had our opportunities and didn’t convert. We needed to bunch together our hits or this might have been a different game. Our hits were too spread out.

“It hurts that two calls didn’t go our way. There was the double and then the next batter was out of the batter’s box when he bunted.”

Penn-Trafford, which celebrated its first WPIAL title a week ago, found itself down 2-0 early when Carson Kensinger launched a two-run home run in the top of the first inning off Brandon Roher.

But that was all Hollidaysburg got until the seventh inning.

Penn-Trafford rallied to tie the score on an RBI double by Carmen Metcalfe off the left-field wall at cozy Sargent Field at Point Stadium in the second inning and an RBI hit by Logan Matrisch in the fourth inning.

The Warriors made it easy, however, on Hollidaysburg’s defense with 11 fly ball outs. They stranded six baserunners.

“We didn’t get our bats going,” Cortazzo said. “Being down 2-0 early, it didn’t matter. They are used to that. They are competitors.”

The Penn-Trafford defense kept the game close, turning three double plays.

Ian Temple had a double and single for the Warriors, and Chuck Fontana and Metcalfe added doubles.

Hileman had two doubles and a single for Hollidaysburg (16-6), which will play the winner of Friday’s game between Bethel Park and Monsignor Bonner on Monday at a site and time to be determined.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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