Grant slam: Greensburg Salem first baseman Smith drives in 7 runs in bounce-back win

Thursday, April 20, 2023 | 10:58 PM

He wasn’t in a slump by any means, but Greensburg Salem junior first baseman Grant Smith wanted desperately to snap back after a sub-par effort in the first game of a Section 4-3A baseball series against McGuffey.

Collectively, so did the Golden Lions, who had an eight-game winning streak stopped by the Highlanders.

Smith’s response was as swift as it was impressive.

Call it a Grant Slam: He went 4 for 4 — on four singles — and drove in all seven runs, as No. 4 Greensburg Salem upended visiting McGuffey, 7-3, in Thursday’s rematch.

McGuffey won the first game 5-2 on Monday night in frigid conditions at Wild Things Park in Washington. Game 2 was postponed Tuesday and moved to Thursday.

Talk about night and day. In 80-degree sunshine this time on their firm home field, the Golden Lions (10-2, 7-1) took care of business to earn a split and stay in the section title race.

They overcame a sluggish start, too. Three errors in the first three innings, including two in the third, allowed McGuffey (7-3, 4-2) to take a 2-1 lead.

But never fear when “Smitty” is here. Or, “G-Money,” or “Shmoney,” as some teammates like to call him.

Smith roped a trio of two-run singles to power the Golden Lions, who got a strong start from senior right-hander Owen Tutich.

“I had a bad day Monday. I went 0 for 2 with a walk,” Smith said. “It was just, see ball, hit ball, nothing more than that. I saw some holes open up.

“We were pretty upset on the bus ride home Monday. This is a good way to bounce back.”

Smith gave the Golden Lions a 3-2 lead in the third with a two-run hit.

He made it 5-2 in the fifth with another single that scored two.

Then, in the sixth, with two outs, Smith struck again, driving in Tutich and sophomore Peyton Chismar, who also singled for two of the team’s 11 hits, for a 7-3 advantage.

“When I was on base and Smitty was up, I knew he was bringing me in,” Tutich said.

Tutich, who worked the Highlanders with his curve ball, was more effective as the lead increased.

“Grant has been doing it all year,” Greensburg Salem coach Anthony Manley said. “He is a smart kid, a student of the game. He works his tail off. And Owen is Mr. Reliable. He wanted to finish this one.”

Tutich, who was pulled in the seventh when he reached 100 pitches, struck out 12 and walked two.

He allowed four hits.

“We’re still in the race. This is a big rebound,” Tutich said. “(Smith) gave me more confidence with his RBIs.”

The Highlanders, who used only one pitcher, sophomore Brogan Meighen, cut it to 5-3 in the sixth on a fieder’s choice. They threatened again in the seventh against Greensburg Salem senior reliever Ethan Wilson, who came in after two strikeouts and a walk by Tutich.

Wilson allowed a single and a walk to load the bases. But he recovered, getting Meighen to pop up into foul territory behind first base, with — who else? — Smith making the catch, falling backward to complete the putout.

“No pressure,” Smith said. “Just make the play.”

Smith also collided with a player at second base earlier but came away unscathed, sort of.

“It was a baseball play,” he said. “No big deal. It was just a little blood. Everyone was OK.”

Chismar, who went 2 for 3, tripled to get the offense started in the first, and Smith knocked him in for a 1-0 lead.

Junior Ryan Keith, sophomore Reno Presto and senior Jake Ross had an RBI each for McGuffey, whose Nos. 6 through 9 hitters were 1 for 10 with eight strikeouts.

Greensburg Salem remained in second place, while McGuffey stayed in third. Yough (9-3, 6-0) is in first place with two fewer section games played.

“We needed this split,” Manley said. “It gives us some momentum going into our ‘bye’ week. We can build off this. We knew we can be better.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at

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