Franklin Regional ends long drought, advances to state playoffs
By: Paul Schofield
Tuesday, May 28, 2019 | 8:18 PM
Franklin Regional ended a long streak Tuesday evening.
The Panthers qualified for the PIAA playoffs for the first time since they won the WPIAL Class AAA title in 2001.
No. 2-seeded Franklin Regional bounced back from a tough semifinal loss to Laurel Highlands with a 4-1 victory against Mars in the WPIAL Class 5A consolation game at Washington & Jefferson’s Ross Memorial Park.
The Panthers (18-2) will face the winner of Thursday’s intra-district game between State College (District 6) and McDowell (District 10) in the opening round of the state tournament Monday at a site and time to be determined.
Sophomore pitcher Andrew Muraco limited No. 8 Mars (12-10) to one run on five hits. He was backed by strong defense.
“The defense made all the plays behind me,” Muraco said. “I had pretty good stuff, and I filled up the zone early. It was big getting the early lead.”
Franklin Regional took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Michael Klingensmith tripled to right-center field and scored two outs later on a wild pitch.
“That was a big play for them,” Mars coach Andy Bednar said. “Joe (Craska) has a good slider, and it got away from him. Teddy (Ruffner) couldn’t do anything about it. The same play helped us against West Allegheny.”
The Panthers stretched their lead to 4-0 in the third inning when Jake Williams walked and moved to third on Tom Kegerreis’ double to the center-field fence.
Williams scored on Lou Kegerreis’ single, Tom Kegerreis scored on a wild pitch and Lou Kegerreis scored on a fielder’s choice.
“Rock (Muraco) did a good job,” Franklin Regional coach Bob Saddler said. “His pitch count got elevated, but he did a good job battling. Our guys came out and made some plays defensively. Shane (Sciorilli) made some fantastic plays at second base to keep us in the game.”
Mars got on the scoreboard in the fifth when pinchrunner Joe Pifer scored on Jon Wetherholt’s single.
“Once we got the lead, we wanted to build on our lead,” Saddler said. “The guys did a good job continuing to add on. That’s our mantra all season.”
Klingensmith, who had two hits, came on in the sixth inning to close things out.
“Bringing Michael in the game was the plan if Andrew got tired,” Saddler said.
Rowan Fletcher had two hits for the Planets. Matt Fitzmaurice had two hits for the Panthers.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .