Challenging section slate prepares No. 4 Gateway for postseason

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Friday, May 10, 2019 | 8:14 PM


The Gateway baseball team went 9-3 in Section 1-5A to secure the program’s fourth consecutive trip to the WPIAL playoffs.

Gators coach Mark Wardzinski said he was proud of his players for staying the course through a plethora of close and competitive games.

“The guys finished the (regular) season with a lot of confidence,” Wardzinski said. “We won 13 games (13-6 overall), and there were a couple of games we felt could have and should have gone our way. We were looking back on the season, and we lost six games by a total of 10 runs.”

Gateway played five straight one-run games late in the regular season and went 4-1 in those games to secure second place behind undefeated Franklin Regional.

The Panthers wrapped up the outright section title at 12-0 with a 4-2 victory over Gateway on May 8 in the section finale for both teams.

Things started out well for Gateway in that game as it grabbed a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first.

However, Franklin Regional held the Gators off the board the rest of the way and rallied for the win.

“We had one or two baserunners each inning, but we just didn’t get that timely hitting we needed,” Wardzinski said.

The WPIAL on Friday released the baseball playoff brackets, and the Gators received the No. 4 seed in 5A and a first-round bye into the quarterfinals.

Gateway will begin against the winner of No. 5 Shaler and No. 12 Trinity. The date, time and location for that game was not determined when the bracket was released.

Wardzinski said he liked how competitive the section was this season and how those close games prepared his team to expect the same in the playoffs.

“In the playoffs, you know you are getting a good team, no matter who you are paired up with,” Wardzinski said. “With us having that tough of a section, the guys had to deal with a lot of different situations.”

Fox Chapel and Kiski Area also earned playoff berths from Section 1. Gateway edged Kiski Area, 9-8, on May 6, and the Cavaliers came back two days later and defeated Armstrong in nine innings to clinch fourth place.

Gateway topped Fox Chapel, 1-0, on April 11. The Foxes were the only team other than Franklin Regional to deal the Gators a section loss. Fox Chapel came out on top 4-3 on May 3.

Armstrong, which finished just on the outside in the playoff race, took Gateway to the limit in a 7-6 final May 1.

“You had to bring your best game each time,” Wardzinski said. “Our section was one of the most competitive around.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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