Eden Christian rallies past Saegertown to head back to PIAA Class A final

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Monday, June 10, 2024 | 10:00 PM


Clutch hitting and a calm sophomore pitcher carried the Eden Christian baseball team back to the PIAA Class A baseball championship game.

A three-run double by sophomore catcher Josh Tiden in a four-run fifth inning and solid pitching from sophomore Noah Emswiler rallied Eden Christian past District 10 runner-up Saegertown, 7-5, at Slippery Rock’s Jack Critchfield Park.

The victory puts Eden Christian (19-6) in the championship game at 10:30 a.m. Friday against District 1 champion Faith Christian (22-0) at Penn State’s Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Faith Christian advanced with a 6-1 victory against Bishop McCort.

This is the second time that Eden Christian has reached the championship game. It lost to Halifax, 9-1, in 2021.

“We’re hoping for a better outcome,” coach Mark Feldman said. “The more you play in these games, the more you are prepared. We’ll see what happens.”

Emswiler relieved starter Enzo Natale in the third inning after Saegertown grabbed a 3-2 lead on a two-run triple by Blake Burchill and an RBI squeeze bunt by Blake Leslie.

Eden Christian sophomore shortstop Brett Feldman, the son of coach Mark Feldman, got things rolling with a single.

Brady Hull reached on a fielder’s choice and Caleb Emswiler drove him in with an RBI double. Charlie Wolf walked and Jacob Janicki singled to load the bases.

Tiden then stepped to the plate and cleared the bases with a three-run double to make it 6-3.

“We preached all year to stay with it, stay with it,” coach Feldman said. “That was a great baseball team we beat. Our players persevered and we stayed after it.

“We had some gutsy efforts from some kids who are banged up. It took a lot of courage, and it takes everyone in the lineup, not just the starting nine.”

Saegertown scratched across two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring on an infield hit by Luke Young and a throwing error. But with Burchill at the plate, Noah Emswiler picked off Young to end the threat.

“Noah, we don’t know if he has a pulse,” coach Feldman said. “He came in during a big spot and they got nothing. Our sophomores have been great all year.”

Emswiler worked the final four-plus innings and struck out five, allowing two hits and walking three.

Eden Christian stole a run in the top of the seventh inning when Hull walked and moved to second on an infield hit by Caleb Emswiler. Hull stole third and with two outs, Emswiler started towards second on an early steal. When Saegertown attempted to nab Emswiler at second, Hull streaked home, beating a high throw from Saegertown second baseman Eli Gardner.

“It was a gutsy win,” Brett Feldman said. “It takes a team to win in baseball.”

“My curveball and fastball were working the best,” Noah Emswiler said. “I noticed they were way behind my curveball. I just go with the flow. And try to do my thing and get outs.”

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Saegertown had the tying run at the plate. Wyatt Burchill reached base after being hit by a pitch for the third time in the game. But Noah Emswiler retired the next two batters on a flyout and groundout to end the game.

A questionable call by home plate umpire James Hart and third base umpire Daniel Smith prevented Eden Christian from having a big inning in the second.

After a bases-loaded walk to Feldman forced home the first run of the game, Hull bounced a ball over third base and down to the corner that cleared the bases. But Hart, standing behind home plate, held his arms up and didn’t indicate if the ball was fair or foul.

After the final runner crossed the plate, Hart, after conversing with Smith, ruled the ball foul.

“It looked to me that Smith pointed that it was a fair ball,” coach Feldman said. “But the home plate (umpire) overruled him.”

Despite the call, Eden Christian was able to move on.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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