Franklin Regional baseball completes perfect section season

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019 | 8:36 PM


For the first time this season, the scoreboard was up and running at Haymaker Park, adding some ambience to Franklin Regional’s final home game.

Senior outfielder Tommy Kegerreis enjoyed seeing the old display panel working again so much he took direct aim at it in the fifth inning.

Kegerreis clubbed a solo home run off the home score-by-innings line on the big board Wednesday in Murrysville — some 385 feet away — to give the Panthers their first lead, and they went on to a 4-2 victory over Gateway to cap a perfect season in Section 1-5A.

The No. 2-ranked Panthers finished 12-0 in section and are 15-1 overall with one game left, Thursday at Penn-Trafford. WPIAL playoff pairings will be announced Friday.

Kegerreis missed all of last season with a torn labrum but came back after offseason surgery to give the Panthers pop in the three spot in the order. He has three homers this year, all at Haymaker.

“We were playing for potentially the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, and that would be huge,” Kegerreis said. “We just stayed focused and played how we always do.”

As for his comeback: “It was a lot of work, a lot of doctor’s appointments,” Kegerreis said. “I couldn’t wait to come back.”

A game that looked like it might be for the section title a short time ago became more about closing the deal for the Panthers, who already had clinched their first section title since 2006. With the section in hand, though, this was no day off.

“I didn’t have to say anything to our guys after we got down 2-0 early,” Panthers coach Bobby Saddler said. “These guys aren’t going to take games off. They want to compete. They wanted the undefeated section.”

Second-place Gateway (13-6, 9-2), which had won five of its last six and nipped at the Panthers’ heels for much of the year, looked like a spoiler early. The Gators took a 2-0 lead in the first off Panthers sophomore starter Andrew Muraco, who was coming off a no-hitter against Woodland Hills.

But junior catcher Bryce Harper ripped a single to left to make it 2-1 in the second, and Michael Klingensmith’s sacrifice fly tied it 2-2 in the third.

Klingensmith, who took an errant baseball to his head during a between-innings warmup, drove in senior Shane Scioilli, who led off with a single, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch.

The bases were left full by the Panthers in the third, but instead of a breakout inning, they took control with one big swing.

“We were able to capitalize there after the slow start,” Saddler said. “Tommy’s homer was a great shot. That’s what he’s been doing. He is driving the baseball gap-to-gap.”

Kegerreis came up with two down in the fifth and hammered Anthony Cammuso’s delivery deep to left-center for a 3-2 lead.

“It was a tie game and there were two outs, so I knew I had to do something,” Kegerreis said. “I just tried to hit the ball hard and put it in play. It just went out.”

Muraco was steady after the first, retiring eight straight before Dalton Vojnik’s single in the fourth.

But the Gators didn’t threaten again. A 4-6-3 double play by the Panthers zipped shut the fifth before Muraco gave way to senior Palmer Jackson, who mowed down the Gators in the final two innings.

Jackson struck out three of six to earn the save. He and Muraco combined on a four-hitter.

Sciorilli, who had two hits, added some insurance with a run-scoring single in the sixth to make it 4-2.

“All year we’ve never backed down from any team,” Sciorilli said. “We’re always up in the dugout. We need that energy. We keep it all game, and that helps us stay focused and we get stuff done. We’re a good hitting team, so we’re not worried at all when we get runs against us.”

Sophomore Louie Kegerreis went 3 for 3 for the Panthers, who have scored 129 runs this season while allowing 43.

The playoffs await, and a youthful and talented group wants more.

“The confidence is there,” Kegerreis said. “We’re ready to win. We’re going to go out and compete as hard as we can every day.”

Said Sciorilli: “We’re solid defense-wise, offense-wise. I think we have it all this year.”

Cammuso had an RBI single for Gateway, which got its other run on a bases-loaded walk.

Muraco pitched five innings and allowed two earned runs. Louie Kegerreis doubled and scored in the second.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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