Franklin Regional baseball bounces back to rout Gateway

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Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | 8:25 PM


Franklin Regional did not have much time to dwell on its first loss of the WPIAL baseball season.

After a night game against neighboring Gateway — just a few miles up Route 22 — the Panthers welcomed the Gators for an after-school Section 1-5A rematch Tuesday.

Swiftly and soundly, the third-ranked Panthers avenged the defeat with a 13-3 victory in five innings, earning a series split at sunny Haymaker Park in Murrysville.

The summary read: 13 runs, 13 hits, no errors. Consider the bad taste, gone — an army of mints to an onion.

“The boys weren’t happy about (Monday) night,” Panthers coach Bobby Saddler said. “There was a lot of self-reflection and let’s-turn-the-page discussion. We knew we played them again in 16 hours, so we had to be ready.”

Freshman Luke Williams continued his impressive rookie season with three hits, including two doubles, two RBIs, and four runs, and senior Anthony Alesi had two hits and four RBIs to pace the Panthers (7-1, 3-1) to the run-ruled win.

Junior Max Bernadowski added a pair of hits, one of them a double, and junior winning pitcher Blake Bertucci doubled and singled. Junior Cole Brinker, the No. 9 hitter, hit a two-run homer.

Bernadowski and senior Dan Luko scored three runs apiece.

“I like the (two-game series) because if you take a loss, you can come right back and play,” Saddler said. “If you get the dub (win), you can’t celebrate because you play again right away.”

Gateway (4-2, 1-1) took a 1-0 lead but aided the Panthers with a slew of miscues in the form of errors, walks, a hit batsman and wild pitches.

A bad stretch allowed them to load the bases and begin to move runs across.

It was 3-1 before the Panthers had a hit.

They chased Gators starting pitcher Elliott Sterner after two-thirds of an inning.

Bertucci’s ground-rule double made it 4-1 in the first.

“The kids took (Monday’s 3-1 loss) personal,” Saddler said. “They learned from it and put it behind them. This team is resilient.”

Williams’ RBI single followed in the second as the Panthers built a 6-1 advantage.

Gateway closed the gap to 6-3 in the fourth on RBIs from Brody Clemens (via a bunt) and Noah Colberg.

But four straight hits by the Panthers in the fourth allowed them to pull in front 9-3.

Williams ripped a double, a run scored on a throwing error and Alesi knocked in another run.

“The biggest thing is to have a short memory after a loss like that,” Alesi said. “We knew we could come back and beat them. We came out hot. Yesterday, we had energy, but it didn’t translate to the field. Today, it did.”

In the fifth, the Panthers built their deciding 10-run margin and finished off the Gators, who used three pitchers.

After a single by sophomore Chase Lemke, Brinker delivered his two-run blast to left before Williams doubled again.

Run-scoring singles by Alesi and sophomore Brady Yarabinitz made it 13-3.

The Panthers walked six times and stole five bases.

Taili Thompson had two RBIs for the Gators.

Bertucci allowed six hits across five innings and earned the win.

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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