Drew Lafferty sparks South Park past Mohawk to 2nd WPIAL title

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 | 7:03 PM

The South Park baseball team has been on a mission since losing in the 2021 WPIAL Class 3A championship game.

They completed part of the mission by winning the school’s second WPIAL baseball title Wednesday, defeating Mohawk, 11-1, in the Class 3A title game at Wild Things Park in Washington.

The Eagles’ first title came in 2013. South Park (18-5) will face District 10 runner-up Franklin in the PIAA playoffs on Monday. This was Mohawk’s first trip to the finals.

The game ended in the bottom of the sixth inning when South Park invoked the 10-run rule.

“We’ve been playing with a chip on our shoulder,” South Park coach Brad Shamitko said. “We left with a bad taste in our mouths a year ago, losing in this game and playing a very good Central-Martinsburg team. We’re not done yet, hopefully.”

Things ended well Wednesday as the Eagles pounded out 12 hits and got a strong pitching performance by senior Drew Lafferty, who limited a good-hitting Mohawk team one run and helped his own cause with a solo home run, his fifth of the season.

It was the third time that Drew Lafferty has played in a championship game at Wild Things Park. He was the winning pitcher for Seton LaSalle in the 2019 championship game.

“This is my third WPIAL championship, and this is the first time I hit a home run,” Drew Lafferty said. “It was a great feeling. I felt like I belonged here, I was confident, and I wasn’t nervous at all. The experience gave me the confidence I needed.”

Lafferty, a Kentucky commit, allowed five hits and struck out eight.

South Park grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Austin Lafferty singled, swiped second and scored on Brian Clifford’s single.

A four-run fourth inning broke open a close game, expanding the Eagles’ lead to 5-0.

Dylan Orth opened the inning with a hit and scored on Zach Ludwig’s triple. Ludwig scored on Dylan Wilder’s single. Clifford and Luke Rider drove in runs later in the inning.

Ludwig had three hits, including a triple and three RBIs, while Clifford and Rider each finished with two RBIs.

South Park tacked on a run on the fifth inning to make it 6-0 before Mohawk scored its only run of the game in the top of the sixth when losing pitcher Cooper Vance tripled and scored on a ground out. Vance also had a double.

The Eagles ended the game with a five-run sixth inning highlighted by a two-run hit by Ludwig.

“We’re a good-hitting team and we had a good, aggressive approach to the plate,” Shamitko said. “Drew has an arsenal; he’s what he’s all built up to be for the two years that we had him. He’s a competitor, a bulldog out there. He hit his spots, mixed it up on them, and that’s what he does.”

Mohawk coach Nick Maiorano said there are a lot of good things his team will take from this experience despite the loss.

“Drew was able to locate the fastball really well,” Maiorano said. “He was on his game. We knew who he is, a big name around here, but he lived up to it. He threw excellent.

“They’re a complete team. They hit. I’m not disappointed with our pitchers. The home run Lafferty hit was knee high. They showed up and they won.”

Mohawk (16-5) also advances to the PIAA playoffs, facing Central-Martinsburg of District 6 on Monday.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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