Beaver baseball rallies in 7th inning to defeat No. 2 Yough

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 | 9:04 PM

The Yough baseball team was three outs away from earning its first trip to the WPIAL finals Wednesday afternoon.

But the third time wasn’t the charm.

Just like they did in 2000 and ‘03, the Cougars fell one game — or, in this case, three outs — from a berth in the championship game, losing to Beaver, 7-2, at Ross Memorial Park in Washington. The Bobcats (13-7) plated all seven of their runs in the final inning and will face Blackhawk, a 4-3 winner over New Castle, in the Class 4A title game at Wild Things Park next week.

Beaver has been dominant throughout the playoffs. In their previous two playoff wins, the Bobcats outscored their opponents 15-0.

“All year long, we have been in these types of situations and have not been able to get over the hump,” Beaver coach Noah Medich said. “Today, these guys did not give up. We rallied and found a way to generate some runs.

“When we came in for the seventh, we said ‘Relax. It isn’t the end of the world. Go out and have a day and make something happen.’ ”

The seventh inning rally spoiled effort of Yough pitcher Michael Bell. Prior to the last inning, Bell allowed just three hits and walked two.

“(Bell) gave us a tremendous effort,” Yough coach Craig Spisak said. “They just hit the ball in the last inning, and we made a couple mistakes to help them out. We’ll learn from it.”

“Their pitcher threw a heck of a game,” Medich said of Bell. “He kept us off balance all night. Credit to him, too. That’s a very good baseball team.”

Bell faced the first three batters of the seventh inning. Mason Rose and Michael Champ led off with back-to-back singles. Dominic Petrella hit a ground ball to third that sneaked between the legs of third basemen Ray Halahurich. Two runs scored on the play to tie the score at 2-2.

“They’re a good hitting team,” Spisak said. “For the most part we did a good job. At the end, they got a few hits that found holes.”

With Sean Royer on to pitch in relief, Brady Hansen singled, and Harrison Pontoli walked to load the bases. After recording the first out, Vinny Mastrangelo drew another walk to force home the go-ahead run. Alec Berg followed with a bases-clearing triple over the head of right fielder Caden Kastronis. Zach Hansen singled in the final Beaver run.

Bell and Berg shut down the opposition through the first four innings. Medich pulled Berg in favor of Rose to start the fifth. That decision almost backfired.

Dominic Koch began the fifth by reaching on catcher’s interference. After a failed bunt attempt by Vincent Martin, Kastronis smacked a 2-1 pitch over the left-field wall to give Yough a 2-0 advantage.

Kastronis was moved from sixth to eighth in the batting order minutes before the game.

“It was just a gut feeling,” Spisak said. “All three of those guys (at the bottom of the order) are good hitters. I am confident with all nine guys in the order. We just tried to help them out and put them in the best order to succeed.”

Said Medich: “We brought in our closer (Rose), and he gives us a little change of pace. Down there at the bottom of their lineup, those guys can hit, too.”

After the home run, Noah Manns singled to center, and it looked like Yough was going to continue the rally. But Cody Ulander grounded back to Rose to start an inning-ending double play. Rose retired the Cougars in order in the sixth and, after allowing two baserunners to start the seventh, shut down Yough again to seal the victory.

The Cougars will still have a chance to make the PIAA playoffs if they win the consolation game against New Castle on Tuesday.

“When you get to this level in the playoffs, there are no easy games,” Spisak said. “You have to battle and be fundamentally sound to give yourself a chance to win.”

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