East Allegheny tunes up for baseball playoffs with nonsection win over Greensburg CC

Thursday, May 5, 2022 | 10:04 PM

Fresh off its first section title since 1999, upstart East Allegheny used Thursday’s nonsection baseball game at Greensburg Central Catholic for extra reps.

Both teams already had clinched WPIAL playoff spots. Now is the time to fine-tune, tweak and tinker.

“Everyone got an at-bat,” Wildcats coach Mike Cahill said. “We wanted to work in some guys as we get ready to step up and make a playoff run. It was nice to step out of section. We’ve had some really tough games.”

Class 3A East Allegheny cleared its bench and bullpen on the way to a 5-3 victory.

The Wildcats (10-4) were 5-12 last season, 1-14 in 2019 and 0-11 in ’18.

“E-A baseball is back,” Cahill said. “I have coached most of these kids since T-ball, and it’s great to see them have some success. We’re still getting used to winning.”

Class 3A East Allegheny has won nine of its last 11, the latest victory featuring an eight-hit attack that saw sophomore Tommy Kearns earn his first pitching win in his first start on the mound.

Class A Greensburg Central Catholic (8-5), which had won seven of nine, including an impressive 14-2 win over No. 5 West Greene in section, cut the Wildcats’ leads to 2-1 and 3-2 but could not go ahead.

“We couldn’t get our offense going,” GCC coach Tom Appleby said. “Our bats have been really good lately. We pitched well today, but our bats went quiet.”

East Allegheny scored twice in the first on a steal and then via a double by senior second baseman Jax Jurisic.

GCC sophomore Grant Miller’s RBI single made it 2-1 in the fourth, but a throwing error allowed the Wildcats to take a 3-1 advantage in the fifth.

After GCC left the bases loaded in the fourth, sophomore Tyree Turner’s squeeze bunt scored junior Wade Boyle in the bottom of the fifth, and it was 3-2.

Boyle, who has made some highlight catches in center field this season, threw out a runner at home in the fourth.

Three walks, two stolen bases and a two-run single by Kearns with the bases jammed gave East Allegheny a 5-2 lead in the sixth.

The Wildcats were mostly solid defensively and made routine plays.

“Defensively, we have been incredible,” Cahill said. “We had four games without an error.”

Both teams used several pitchers and pinch-hit heavily late in the game. East Allegheny rested one-two starting pitchers Nate Holmes and Michael Cahill, a senior and sophomore with matching 4-1 records.

Kearns was relieved by sophomore Joe Connors in the fourth.

Turner took the loss for GCC, which has not been able to use its top two pitchers, senior Zach David and junior Max Kallock, all season because both had offseason elbow surgery.

David recently committed to Division II Rollins College (Fla.) as a pitcher.

David and Kallock have remained high-end hitters for the Centurions. They were a combined 1 for 4, though, with three walks Thursday.

GCC’s final run scored in the seventh on a throwing error on a steal attempt.

Sophomore Ryan Rupert worked the seventh to earn his first save for East Allegheny.

“We’re a young team, mostly sophomores,” Cahill said. “We only have 13 kids. You can tell they’re a fun group to be around.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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