Another dominant pitching performance pushes Montour past Hampton into Class 4A semis

Monday, May 22, 2023 | 10:54 PM

Montour baseball coach Bob Janeda is no riverboat gambler, but he wins a lot thanks to a winning hand that includes two aces.

The Spartans coach went with his “No. 2” pitcher Monday in the Class 4A quarterfinals, and junior Jake Robinson threw a gem as Montour blanked Hampton, 2-0.

“We thought they were going to pitch who they did (Ryan Apaliski) and he threw four days ago,” Janeda said. “What I love about our ballclub is we threw our No. 1 the other day and we didn’t bring him back. We brought our No. 2 back, and that’s depth.”

Apaliski, a senior, was strong even after four days rest. In the first-round game Wednesday, the left-hander nearly had a no-hitter as he struck out 17 in a 9-0 win over Ringgold.

“We knew if we put some pitches on him early, we would have some success,” Janeda said. “I think he was up to 65 pitches after three innings, so we executed the strategy. I told my team that in my opinion, this is a race to three runs. I know WPIAL baseball is close games that are pitchers’ duels.”

Apaliski threw six innings, allowing two runs, one earned, with three hits, three walks, two hit batters and eight strikeouts.

Montour scored in the second inning without a hit.

Maddox Tarquinio walked, stole second base, and then as he was trying to steal third, the catcher’s throw went into left field and Tarquinio raced home.

The batter at the time, Adam Weber, showed bunt as Tarquinio took off from second. The Talbots third baseman charged, but the shortstop did not cover and the miscommunication led directly to a run.

With one out in the bottom of the third inning, Spartans left-handed hitting senior Zac Stern went the opposite way and doubled off the glove of diving Hampton left fielder Brady Long.

Robinson liked it so much, he repeated it. The left-handed hitting junior dropped a fly ball between the left-field line and Long for an RBI double to give Montour more than they would need.

“Getting that second run was huge,” Janeda said. “Lefty vs. lefty, they both did their job. We preach to use the whole field and they hit two balls inside the left-field line. They couldn’t have executed those at-bats any better, quite frankly.”

Robinson was terrific. He threw seven innings with no runs, four hits, no walks one hit batter and 10 strikeouts.

Only once, with two outs in the top of the third, did the Talbots get two baserunners on at the same time. Hampton had only two runners reach second and none made it to third base the entire game.

“The key there was no walks,” Janeda said. “Down the stretch (of the regular season), we had a little trouble throwing strikes. I told Jake if he could limit the walks, these guys aren’t going to hit you consistently. If he was in the zone, I love our defense.”

Hampton ends its season with a final record of 9-10.

Top-seeded Montour is 19-3 and will face No. 5 Latrobe at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Boyce-Mayview Park in Upper St. Clair.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this ballclub,” Janeda said. “We’re battle tested and we’ve had a target on our back all year. We’re going to continue to work and go with Vinny Markulin (on Tuesday).

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