Good pitching, solid defense lead Kiski Area to sweep of Highlands

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Thursday, April 20, 2023 | 9:19 PM


Baseball, at times, can be a simple game.

If you get good pitching, play solid defense and take advantage of your opponent’s mistakes, you normally win games.

That’s what Kiski Area did and Highlands did not Thursday in a Section 4-4A battle.

Senior LeBryn Smith tossed a five-inning, two-hit shutout, and Kiski Area took advantage Highlands mistakes and cruised to a 10-0 victory to complete a sweep of the two-game series.

The Cavaliers improved to 7-4 overall and 4-2 in the section, a game behind first-place Indiana. Highlands lost its sixth consecutive game and dropped to 2-8 overall and 1-5 in the section.

The Rams were without coach Jeff Campbell Sr., who fractured his ankle and will miss the rest of the season. His son Jeff Campbell Jr. was appointed the coach in charge.

Kiski Area grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Nathan Witt scored on a double steal. The Cavaliers made it 2-0 in the second inning on an RBI groundout by William Uhing.

The Cavaliers only collected seven hits, including two each by Smith and battery mate Wyatt Krogh, but took advantage of six walks and two hit batters.

“That was the key,” Kiski Area coach Michael Manning said. “We are confident to go seven innings and go deep into counts, which has helped up wear down pitchers.

“The first couple of games, we weren’t as confident to go deep into the game. Now that we’ve won a couple and learned how to win, we’re not afraid to go seven innings in a tight game.”

Kiski Area used one hit and took advantage of an error and two walks to push the lead to 3-0 in the third inning.

“It’s the little things you have to do,” Campbell said. “You don’t make the basic plays and don’t take advantage of situations that other teams present you, you’re going to be out of the game quickly. That’s what happened against Kiski. They made the basic plays and they hustled things out.”

Highlands stranded two runners in the first inning and two more in the fourth.

Kiski Area ended the game by scoring five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning as Smith singled home two runs and the 10th run scored on an errant throw.

Smith walked two and struck out five.

“LeBryn pitched well,” Krogh said. “He didn’t miss many spots and he trusted his defense. He knows we’ll all make plays. Our team trust is important. We all trust each other to make the plays.”

Kiski Area didn’t commit an error and Krogh didn’t allow a ball to get to the backstop.

“Confident is a good word for LeBryn,” Manning said. “He’s confident in his team. He knows they will catch the ball for him, and he’s also confident in his pitching execution. He can dial it in when we need him to come up big.”

Kiski Area’s flawless play extended its winning streak to four games.

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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