Knoch Takes Down West Allegheny For First WPIAL Baseball Title

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 | 10:51 PM

The WPIAL Baseball Championships had a first-timers flair to them already. All that the Knoch Knights did was join the party.

No. 2 Knoch (19-2) only recorded three hits, but plated five runners in a 5-1 win over No. 5 West Allegheny (16-6) in the WPIAL AAA Baseball Championship on Wednesday night at CONSOL Energy Park in Washington, Pa.

The win for Knoch is their first in the program’s 25-year history and is the first major WPIAL team Championship since Knoch’s football team won the 1978 title. The Knights joined first-time Champions Greensburg Central Catholic (Class A) and Pittsburgh Central Catholic (Class AAAA), as well as six-time Champion Neshannock (AA) as baseball kings in 2015.

Knights’ pitcher Cole Shinsky gave up just one, unearned run in a complete game effort, allowing just two hits and striking out eight batters in the win.

Indians’ pitcher Tyler Eritz was tagged with the loss, allowing all five of Knoch’s runs in less than three innings of work. Eritz, who was starting in place of the injured Tyler Amedure and righty Colin Claus, who came on in relief of Eritz in the third inning.

Early on, Knoch showed the patience at the plate that drew seven walks on the evening. In the second inning, Knoch plated three runs with two outs, as Addis Crouch would draw a walk and a pitch would hit Logan Hickey, setting the stage for the top of the order. The next batter, Dominick Bucko, would rip a two-run triple to right field, giving Knoch a 2-0 lead. Chris Law would then drive in Bucko with a RBI single, extending the Knights’ lead to 3-0.

The following inning, Knoch would score the rest of its runs thanks, in part, to four walks issued by Eritz and Claus. After walking Knoch catcher Asa Adams and giving up a single to Alex Stobart, West Allegheny coach Bryan Cornell would pull Eritz and bring in Claus. Claus would proceed to walk Garrett Traggiai to load the bases. Claus would then consecutively walk Crouch and Hickey, pushing the Knights’ lead to 5-0.

The third inning would end on a controversial and sour note when Bucko grounded into a fielder’s choice. West Allegheny first baseman Chasen Claus would throw home for the first out but, before Indians’ catcher Brandon Pouch could throw the ball back down to first, Traggiai would run out of the baseline and dive, leg-first, into Pouch. Traggiai would be immediately ejected, Pouch would be taken to the hospital with a leg injury and both benches would be restrained by the four-man umpire crew.

With the lead, Shinsky settled in, retiring nine of the next eleven batters. During that stretch, West Allegheny would record its only two hits on infield singles from Nick Wiethorn and Danny Guilfoil.

The Indians would force Knoch into three errors in the final inning, plating a run and loading the bases for pinch hitter Conner Johnsen, down 5-1. However, Shinsky would get Johnsen to pop up to center field, where Bucko would make a running, shoestring catch to end the ballgame.

The loss for the Indians spoiled their hopes of a repeat WPIAL Championship, as West Allegheny won the 2014 title by outbattling Blackhawk star Brendan McKay.

Both Knoch and West Allegheny will proceed to the PIAA Tournament, where they will be joined by District 7 foe Montour, who edged No. 1 Chartiers Valley in the WPIAL AAA Consolation Game 3-2 in nine innings.

WEST ALLEGHENY 0-0-0-0-0-0-1=1-2-0
KNOCH                     0-3-2-0-0-0-X=5-3-3

WP: Cole Shinsky (7 IP, 2 H, 8 K, 2 BB, R, 0 ER)
LP: Tyler Eritz (2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 K, 4 BB, HB, 5 R, 5 ER)

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