Cunningham helps Jeannette reach Class A baseball semis with extra-inning win
By: Paul Schofield
Monday, May 21, 2018 | 9:04 PM
Tre Cunningham wasn't about to let the Jeannette baseball team lose in Monday's WPIAL Class A quarterfinal-round game at Fox Chapel.
While he didn't pick up the win on the mound, the senior was a major part of Jeannette's offense.
Cunningham scored two runs, had a triple and the winning RBI double in the eighth inning to lead Jeannette to a hard-fought 5-3 victory over Quigley Catholic.
The win advances the Jayhawks to the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fox Chapel against No. 1 seed Vincentian, which blanked Cornell, 7-0.
After Quigley rallied to tie the score 3-3 on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh, the Jayhawks (13-3) scored two runs in the eighth.
Zander Malik opened the inning with a single, and Cunningham followed with the RBI double to the right-center field gap. Cunningham moved to third on a throwing error and scored on a wild pitch.
“I'm probably happier with my hitting than my pitching,” Cunningham said. “I missed my spots and gave up a couple hits. I'm satisfied that we won anyway.”
Cunningham allowed five hits, walked five and struck out 10. After allowing two hits to open the third inning, a superb defensive play by shortstop Tyler Elliott prevented Quigley (13-2) from scoring. Elliott made a diving stop and flipped to second baseman Michael McCabe to get a force out.
“During last year's playoff run, we had some extra-inning games,” Jeannette coach Markus Clarkson said. “Here we are again, another extra-inning game. It's the playoffs. Every pitch matters, and when you get down to the end of the game, all the runs matter.
“We're a battle-tested playoff team. We have some guys who experienced that last year. We need those guys to step up.”
Jeannette is the returning WPIAL champion.
Seth Howard, who relieved Cunningham in the seventh inning, got the win, and Elliott picked up the save by getting the final two outs with a runner at second base. Elliott made a second sparkling play at short in the seventh inning that robbed J.T. Vukovan of a hit.
Quigley jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on RBI singles by Vukovan and Luke Evans.
Cunningham tripled and scored on Drake Petrillo's fly out in the second inning, and Jeannette took a 3-2 lead in the sixthcon Malik's double that scored Howard. Cunningham then reached on an error allowing courtesy runner Matt Stoves to score.
“Big players have to show up in big games,” Cunningham said. “I guess that's what I did today.”
Clarkson added: “Tre is one of the best players in Class A. I'm glad we have him. He had good at-bats, and he pitched a good game. That was a good team, and I can't tell you enough how much I'm impressed with him every time he comes out.”
Now Jeannette gets to face Vincentian, and Clarkson said his team will be ready.
“It's the next round, and they are the next team in our quest to repeat as champions,” Clarkson said. “I like my team. I'm ready to play.”
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.