Late surge lifts No. 1 Penn-Trafford past North Allegheny in WPIAL baseball semifinals

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 | 9:16 PM

The Penn-Trafford baseball team is one win away from its first WPIAL championship.

The top-seeded Warriors broke open a tie game with four runs in the fifth inning and added two more in the sixth en route to a 7-2 win over No. 4 North Allegheny on Wednesday in a Class 6A semifinal game at Fox Chapel.

“I am so proud of this team because we continue to work hard,” Penn-Trafford coach Dan Miller said. “They understood at the beginning of the season what their goals were, and they’ve continued to persevere to reach those goals. They do what they need to do to be successful.”

Penn-Trafford (18-3) will face No. 2 Pine-Richland (17-4) for the title next Wednesday at Washington’s Wild Things Park.

The Rams punched their ticket to the title game with a 6-0 semifinal win over Bethel Park.

Penn-Trafford and Pine-Richland met in early April, and the Warriors came away with a 13-2 victory.

“We’re definitely going to see a different team,” said Warriors senior Mario Disso, who connected on a key two-run triple in Penn-Trafford’s four-run fifth.

The game was the second in as many days for both teams. Penn-Trafford topped Upper St. Clair, 7-3, in the quarterfinals Tuesday, while North Allegheny doubled up Butler, 4-2.

Despite the loss, North Allegheny (16-6) still is alive and will take on Bethel Park next week in the third-place game with a spot in the PIAA tournament on the line.

“One of our assistant coaches said it best: The sun is going to go down tonight, and it’s going to come up tomorrow morning,” North Allegheny coach Andrew Heck said. “That’s a blessing in itself. The great part about it is when that sun comes up, we’ll let this one quit hurting us, and we’ll go get prepared for a consolation game to get into the state playoffs. We want to chase a state championship.”

North Allegheny grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second as Cole Young led off the inning with a double and scored on a two-out single from Shane Murphy.

Penn-Trafford responded with the tying run in the bottom of the fourth as starting pitcher Tyler Horvat led off with a single and came home on a triple from Luke Fabac.

Horvat kept North Allegheny off the scoreboard until the seventh when Murphy connected on a two-out RBI single.

“I think my off-speed was on today,” Horvat said. “It was the best change-up I had all year. Cade Patterson caught a fantastic game behind the plate. He was in command the entire time, and I was just throwing to his glove.”

Horvat faced North Allegheny for the fourth time in his career. He had two no decisions and a loss in his three previous outings against the Tigers.

Horvat allowed six hits and no walks while striking out three. He said he was even more comfortable after Penn-Trafford took the lead in the fifth and extended it with two runs in the sixth.

“It allowed me to be a little more aggressive,” Horvat said. “Having that cushion, I didn’t want to walk anybody. It gave me a lot of confidence, the way our defense was playing.”

Behind Horvat, the Penn-Trafford defense didn’t commit an error.

“Our defense has been a strong point since my sophomore year, and when we play good defense and pitch well, our bats come around,” Disso said.

Patterson kicked off the scoring for Penn-Trafford in the fifth with a one-out RBI single.

As Disso raced to third to complete his two-run triple, the throw in from left bounced away, and Disso scored for a 5-1 Warriors lead.

“When we scored those four runs, we definitely saw that NA got down on themselves,” Disso said.

North Allegheny tried to complete a double play at first base in the inning, but the Penn-Trafford runner, Fabac, was ruled safe on the play.

“This is an emotional game, and our guys were emotionally engaged from the start,” Heck said. “But I think we let our emotions get the best of us during parts of that inning. It caused us to lose focus a little bit. We thought we had the double play. But we had to be able to get past that and keep playing the game. Credit them for that double that scored those two runs, but there were some mental errors in the inning that without them, we could’ve saved a few runs.”

Fabac, who was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, finished with two RBIs.

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

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