In another tight game, Bethel Park gets past Peters Township to split series

Tuesday, April 16, 2024 | 10:47 PM

When it comes to Bethel Park against Peters Township on the baseball diamond, expect the unexpected.

The one thing you can anticipate is a close game.

Less than 24 hours after Peters Township came back to win in dramatic fashion, Bethel Park scored an unearned run in the sixth inning to win 3-2 on Tuesday.

The victory keeps the Black Hawks in a tie for first place in Section 2-5A.

“This was just one of those games,” Bethel Park coach Patrick Zehnder said. “Against Peters Township, it’s never easy. Every game has been close the last three to four years, and you know going in it’s going to be like this. And it’s good to come out on top, but we know we didn’t play our best baseball game.”

Five of the last six meetings between the South Hills rivals have been decided by one run over the last three years.

Pitching and defense ruled the sun-splashed afternoon at Bob Purkey Field in Bethel Park as the teams combined for only five hits and stranded a combined five baserunners.

The game’s runs were scored directly on a passed ball, a balk and a throwing error while the other two runs were set up by two wild pitches and a passed ball.

The win was big for the Black Hawks because of how Monday’s game ended. Bethel Park led 5-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning when Peters Township rallied for four runs, capped off by a walk off three-run home run by sophomore Brody Takacs.

“There was every excuse to come into (Tuesday) a little bit lackluster,” Zehnder said. “For them to bring the energy was big. There was a little chip on our shoulder, and they were a little ticked off at how things went (Monday), so that can be a great motivator too, as long as you channel it the right way.”

Two juniors locked horns on the mound with Zach Miner getting the start for the Indians and Ryan Walsh for the Black Hawks.

Bethel Park scored in the second inning on a two-out single by junior Noah LeJeune, a wild pitch and an RBI single by junior Dylan Paul.

It stayed 1-0 BP until Peters Township scored two runs in the fifth inning without a hit.

Senior Will Somers and junior Michael Alspaugh walked to lead off the fifth. Following a sac bunt by sophomore Nolan DiLucia, a balk scored Somers and a throwing error by the catcher on a steal attempt by Luke Scott allowed Alspaugh to score.

Bethel Park junior Jack Bruckner singled home pinch runner Aaron Hofbauer in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the game. Running for LeJeune, who had walked, Hofbauer advanced to second base on a wild pitch and to third on a passed ball.

The winning run scored in the bottom of the sixth inning when junior Ryan Petras walked, stole second base, was sacrificed to third by junior Ethan Stanhoff and scored on a passed ball.

Walsh pitched 4⅔ innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on only one hit with six walks and four strikeouts.

“He has ice in his veins,” Zehnder said. “No matter what the scenario is, the moment is not going to be too big for him. If you ask him, he wants to extend the game and go deeper into the fifth and sixth innings and it will come.”

Nick Rillo got the final out of the fifth inning before sophomore Michael Bruckner pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“Nick bridged the gap leading to Mike, and both of those guys are sophomores and have a bright future ahead of them. I’m really proud of them,” Zehnder said.

Miner was the tough-luck loser for Peters Township, throwing all six innings while allowing two earned runs on three hits with three walks, a hit batter and eight strikeouts.

Peters Township falls to 2-4 in the section, 4-7 overall, and is outside the playoff bubble looking in with two weeks remaining in section play.

Bethel Park improves to 4-2 in the section and is tied for first place with South Fayette, one game ahead of both Connellsville and Trinity.

“Always looking to at least win one and we’d love to win two,” Zehnder said of the two remaining section series for the Hawks against the Falcons and Hillers. “I’m just looking for us to play our best baseball. That’s a missing piece right now. I want to see what this team can do when we play our best baseball. We’re young and we’re still going to be a lot better at the end of the season than we are now.”

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