Bethel Park baseball tunes up for playoffs with shutout of Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, May 12, 2021 | 7:34 PM

Bethel Park finished off a perfect section season with a 15-0 whitewash of playoff-bound Thomas Jefferson on Wednesday.

The TJ loss kept Albert Gallatin’s playoff hopes alive for another hour before the Colonials were eliminated by Connellsville.

The win was the 15th for the Black Hawks, including 10 straight as they gear up for the playoffs.

“After a game like this, obviously you want to congratulate the guys who had a great performance out there,” Bethel Park first year coach Pat Zehnder said. “You also have to keep them level headed at this time of the year.

“You tell them it’s a great win against another playoff team, but we have to continue to work hard.”

Bethel Park took control early.

Black Hawks starter Evan Holewinski prevented Thomas Jefferson from scoring in the top of the first, despite a leadoff triple by Shultz Reinhart.

Bethel Park plated four runs in its half of the first inning on RBI singles by junior Cody Geddes and sophomore Ray Altmeyer, a run-scoring double by sophomore Nathan Vargo and a sacrifice fly by the lone senior and Kent State recruit, Eric Chalus.

“We’re playing together, we’re playing hard together and trusting our pitchers,” Chalus said. “We’re pitching well, fielding ground balls well and playing well as a team.”

The Black Hawks enter the postseason with a great pitching duo on the mound.

Chalus has thrown 38 innings and has six wins, an ERA of 0.92 with only one walk allowed and 48 strikeouts.

The sophomore Holewinski has pitched 27 innings this season, has five wins and has yet to allow an earned run. He has allowed no walks and now has 30 strikeouts.

“We’ll have to make a decision about who is throwing in which order, but you can’t ask for a better 1-2 punch than those two guys,” Zehnder said.

Junior Ben Hudson crushed a two-run homer over the fence in left-center field in the second inning to increase the Bethel Park lead to 6-0.

Bethel Park ended the game early via the 15-run mercy rule by sending 11 hitters to the plate with 10 of them reaching safely and nine runs scoring.

Thomas Jefferson (4-5, 5-8) will close out Section 4-5A play Thursday with a home game against Connellsville. With a win over the second-place Falcons, the Jaguars can move into a third-place tie with Peters Township.

The Black Hawks (10-0, 15-2) have now scored double-digit runs in three of their past six victories as they prepare for what they hope is a long, postseason run.

“We’ve been really hot offensively lately, and you’ve got to keep that going,” Zehnder said. “I think it’s less luck and more about their approach at the plate, so I’m not concerned about the offense slumping. The defense could play a little better than they have the last two weeks and the pitching just has to keep doing what they’ve been doing all year.”

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