Bishop Canevin baseball wins defensive playoff battle over Leechburg

Monday, May 22, 2023 | 9:11 PM

Bishop Canevin and Leechburg, two high-scoring Class A baseball teams, found the runs hard to come by Monday in their WPIAL quarterfinals game at Highlands, but No. 6 Canevin managed to score more.

Kole Olszewski limited No. 3 Leechburg to three hits, and Bishop Canevin’s defense shined as the Crusaders ousted the Blue Devils, 4-1, to advance to the semifinals Tuesday against No. 7 Rochester at Gateway.

Both teams came in riding eight-game winning streaks, Leechburg averaging 14.1 runs and Bishop Canevin 12.4 during those stretches.

“Three hits doesn’t win ball games,” Leechburg coach Heath Shimer said. “I told them that the team that makes the least amount of errors is going to win the game.”

Leechburg made three miscues, but Bishop Canevin played flawlessly in the field.

“I’m just so happy we played really good defense,” Bishop Canevin coach Bill Varley said. “We stress that every day in practice, and it doesn’t always show up. Today it showed up. They worked really hard.”

While Leechburg’s offense went dormant, the Blue Devils had chances, stranding five runners and having three others thrown out.

Olszewski managed just four strikeouts while walking three and hitting two batters.

Still, he was quite pleased with the outcome.

“I just felt great,” said the sophomore right-hander, who also quarterbacks the Bishop Canevin football team. “My curveball was working today. I just felt amazing on the mound. When the curve is working, that allows me to use my whole arsenal — curveball, fastball, slider and a 2-seam.”

Both coaches agreed.

“On his typical day, he gets more strikeouts,” Varley said. “Today we just really told him to concentrate on strikes so we can get through this game and our No. 1, Tyler Maddix, can go (Tuesday).”

Maddix, a left-hander, tossed a one-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts in Bishop Canevin’s 10-0 first-round victory Thursday over No. 11 Western Beaver.

“I actually thought we were going to have Maddix,” Shimer said. “I thought we were going to have the lefty pitch today for them. Kudos to Olszewski. He pitched a heckuva game. He mixed it up well. You’ve got to take your hats off to them. They came ready to play. They put the ball in play.”

Bishop Canevin (13-3) knocked out eight hits against Leechburg right-hander Owen McDermott, who worked 6 2/3 innings before Logan Kline got the final out.

Bishop Canevin in the second inning pushed across a pair of runs for all the scoring the Crusaders would need.

Kellan Andruscik’s double was followed a single by Quentin White before Lucas Golembiewski singled to drive in the first run, and Aaryn Edwards hit a sacrifice fly to account for the other.

Leechburg (13-5) scored its only run in the fourth on Tyler Burke’s single, scoring Matt Curfman, who reached on a walk.

That was it for the Blue Devils’ high-scoring offense, although they wasted another opportunity in the sixth by failing to capitalize on Curfman’s two-out triple.

“It’s tough,” Shimer said. “Coming in with a 3-seed; offensively, scoring 12 runs a game (over the entire season); I’m shocked right now. This one stings … It stings.”

Bishop Canevin made it 3-1 in the fifth with the help of a throwing error. Olszewski’s sacrifice fly scored Aiden Didion, who led off the inning with a walk, but the Crusaders were unable to tack on, leaving the bases loaded.

They scored once more in the seventh, again with the help of a throwing error, allowing Olszewski to reach base and come around to score on Mason Glover’s sacrifice fly.

“In my five years here as coach, we’ve made it once to the quarterfinals. We’re in the semis now,” Varley said. “It’s tremendous.”

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