Keystone Oaks shuts out McGuffey in battle for 1st place in Section 3-3A

Wednesday, May 1, 2019 | 9:55 PM

After winning a combined 10 games and missing the playoffs the last two years, one would think Keystone Oaks’ baseball team would be giddy after beating McGuffey, 4-0, on Wednesday.

It was a battle for first place in Section 3-3A and secured victory No. 11 this spring.

The Golden Eagles had already clinched a playoff berth and are now one win away from clinching a share of the section championship.

However, former Keystone Oaks football coach and now first-year baseball coach Nick Kamberis would have none of it.

“I told them no one can pat you on the back and say you’re section champs yet,” he said. “We have two more section games, and anything can happen on any given day.”

Keystone Oaks (11-2, 9-1) can clinch a share of the section crown with one more win, while McGuffey (8-4, 7-2) has also clinched a playoff berth but needs to win and get some help to finish first.

McGuffey managed only four hits against Keystone Oaks left-hander Sammy Tortorella. The senior struck out 13 in blanking the Highlanders for the first time all season.

“Sammy did a great job,” Kamberis said. “He had a slow start, then kind of found himself a little bit, started getting his first-pitch strike. Towards the end there, he really wanted it. His pitch count was near 100, but he really wanted to close out the game.”

Tortorella’s pitch count was in the 40s after two innings after he walked the first batter he faced, then allowed a leadoff double in the second and an infield single later in the inning for the Highlanders’ biggest threat.

After escaping that jam, Tortorella retired 11 straight Highlanders until a two-out triple in the sixth inning by Jake Orr, who was stranded at third.

“I was too short on my stride the first couple of innings, a little wild,” Tortorella said. “I lengthened it in warmups a little bit, got some strikes and we were able to make some plays.”

After scoring 28 runs this week in section wins over Washington and Southmoreland, the Keystone Oaks offense was able to hammer out nine hits against McGuffey junior Ryan Sullivan, who was the winning pitcher in the first meeting between these two teams.

“I thought we squared the baseball up well today,” Kamberis said. “We hit it hard, even on some of our outs. I thought we scrapped a little bit; we had to bite and scratch for some runs.”

The Golden Eagles got all they would need with a run in the second inning when Evan Weissert doubled, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Nate Brestensky ground out.

Keystone Oaks delivered the knockout punch in the fifth when it plated three runs on an RBI triple by Colby Rockacy and run-scoring singles by Jeremy Wytiaz and Tortorella.

Rockacy led the Golden Eagles with three hits, while Tortorella and Weissert each added a pair.

Sullivan pitched well but suffered the loss for the Highlanders. He also had two of his team’s four hits.

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