Greensburg Central Catholic beats Leechburg for elusive 1st-round win

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022 | 9:23 PM


Last year, the Greensburg Central Catholic baseball team earned the No. 2 seed for the WPIAL Class A playoffs and secured a first-round bye.

But the Centurions met a quick and frustrating end to the season with a quarterfinal loss to Riverview.

This time around, the Centurions made sure there was no opening-game exit.

Leechburg, the No. 9 seed, scored first Tuesday under sunny skies at Plum High School, but No. 8 GCC put four runs on the board in the bottom of the second and maintained the lead the rest of the way for a 9-4 victory over the Blue Devils.

“It was a great feeling getting past this first round. It was a little redemption after last year, for sure,” Centurions coach Tom Appleby said. “I talked to the guys before the game about setting the tone. Both teams had that opportunity. I said for them to take it with setting the tone in the dugout, in the field and at the plate, and they did that. This was a good team win as everyone up and down the lineup contributed.”

GCC improved to 9-7 overall and advances to Thursday’s quarterfinals against No. 1 Eden Christian (15-0) at a site and time to be determined.

“It’s just one game at a time, and we’ll start talking about Eden in practice tomorrow,” Appleby said.

Senior Zach David made his first start for the Centurions since last year after recovering from an ulnar collateral ligament tear.

“There was a little anxiousness, but I also was pretty confident,” said David, who took the mound for the first time this season with two relief innings last week against Deer Lakes. “I’m still not 100 percent. But I threw a couple of bullpens, and I felt pretty good about what I could do.”

David scattered five hits, struck out three and gave up three runs, one earned, over five innings.

He also helped his team at the plate with two run-scoring doubles in three at-bats. GCC collected eight hits against Leechburg starter Owen McDermott and reliever Grant Miller.

“Zach honed his skills at first base with the glove and at the plate with his bat, as you saw today, but we were anxious to see him come back on the mound and throw a lot of pitches,” Appleby said. “He’s far from the peak of his game, but he looked really good today.”

John Tropeano doubled in a run for GCC in the second, and Ryan Appleby and Brody Bothell added RBIs.

McDermott took the loss for Leechburg. He pitched into the sixth and surrendered eight hits and nine runs while striking out six and walking two. Six of the nine runs were earned.

Both teams committed four errors. Three of the Blue Devils’ errors came in the second, and GCC took advantage of the miscues with four hits to tally the four runs to take the lead.

McDermott doubled for Leechburg, Matt Curfman singled three times, and Thomas Burke III, Tyler Burke and Jake Cummings drove in runs for the Blue Devils, who capped their season at 7-6 overall.

Leechburg coach Heath Shimer was a man of few words after the game, but he did offer appreciation for his players’ efforts throughout the season.

“It was a helluva ride,” he said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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