Franklin Regional baseball team avenges Monday’s loss to Penn-Trafford

Tuesday, April 5, 2022 | 8:35 PM

Defending WPIAL baseball champion Franklin Regional was a little miffed after losing its Section 1-5A opener. It showed in the rematch with previously unbeaten Penn-Trafford.

The Panthers pushed back.

They came out swinging, limited the Warriors offense and earned a series split with a 5-0 victory Tuesday in light rain in Harrison City.

“We knew what we wanted to do today,” Panthers coach Bobby Saddler said. “We talked after (Monday’s loss), and I told them to think about it for about two hours and turn the page. This is a testament to the leadership of our boys. They came out with a lot of desire and fight.”

Senior Jordan Suvak nearly went the distance for a complete game but settled for six innings and 94 pitches before giving way to sophomore Blake Bertucci in the bottom of the seventh.

“I didn’t want to come out,” Suvak said.

The pair combined on a five-hitter for the Panthers (4-2, 1-1). Penn-Trafford slid to 4-1, 1-1.

“(Monday) we really started slow, and we needed our bats to wake up,” said Suvak, who has committed to play at John Carroll. “We knew we had to come in here and get the split. Tom Nicely called this game. I listened to him.”

An early outburst of scoring set the table for Suvak. The Panthers sent seven hitters to the plate in the first inning and scored three runs on four hits.

Sophomore Owen Sinclair delivered a two-run double, and senior Ryan DalCanton followed with a two-out RBI single.

Suvak led off with a single, and senior Caden Smith put down a bunt.

In the second inning, the Panthers loaded the bases on a single by junior Dan Luko, an error and a walk. Then, senior catcher Nicely laced a two-run single to make it 5-0.

“We came back with a chip on our shoulder,” said Nicely, a Penn State Behrend commit. “We got off to a great start, and we were in the driver’s seat all game.”

Nicely, who had a double, not only caught the shutout, but he threw out two potential base-stealers in the first inning and picked off a runner on a throwdown to first base in the third.

Penn-Trafford left 10 on base.

“We found out we’re not invincible,” Penn-Trafford coach Dan Miller said. “We know we’re not going to go undefeated. We played out of character. We got punched in the mouth by the defending champs and didn’t know how to answer.”

Suvak snared a liner from sophomore Ian Temple and fired to second to complete a double play in the fourth.

The Panthers then snuffed out another potential threat by Penn-Trafford in the fifth with a 4-6-5-2 double play.

That came after a controversial call was overturned. Senior Owen Rain was hit by a pitch with a man on, but an appeal by Franklin Regional led to the umpires saying Rain made a swing attempt. So instead of getting awarded first base, Rain was called for a strike and struck out shortly after.

“It was a momentum-changer,” Miller said.

The Warriors kept the Panthers from doing any more damage in the fourth. After Nicely doubled, Rain threw out a runner at the plate to end the inning.

Bertucci struck out two of the four batters he faced.

Smith, Sinclair, Nicely, and Luko had two hits each for Franklin Regional.

Junior Jake Otto and sophomore Jason Sabol each went 2 for 3 for the Warriors.

Junior Dylan Grabowski took the loss. He was relieved by sophomore Tyler Freas in the top of the fifth.

Penn-Trafford beat the Panthers, 4-3, on Monday behind a complete game from junior Nolan Marasti.

The Warriors have only two seniors on the roster.

“We’re a young team,” Miller said. “It’s about experience and mistakes. It’s my job to fix the mistakes. It’s theirs to learn from experience.”

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

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