Latrobe baseball showcases power in section victory over Kiski Area

Wednesday, April 28, 2021 | 11:23 PM

Throughout the season, Latrobe coach Matt Basciano has talked to his players about improving certain aspects of their play each time out. Most recently, he has asked the Wildcats to improve at the plate.

Over the past two days, his players have answered the call, scoring a combined 22 runs against Kiski Area in two victories. On Wednesday, senior Tucker Knupp hit a grand slam in the top of the seventh inning to secure a 12-2 victory for the Wildcats (8-7, 4-4).

“This was huge, and we knew if we could take both of these games we would have a higher chance of getting into the playoffs,” said Knupp, who also doubled. “It was nice to go out there and get ahead a little bit.”

After Wednesday’s victory, Latrobe is tied with Gateway for fourth place in Section 1-5A. Kiski Area (4-8-1, 2-6) sits in fifth and will finish its section schedule with two games against first place Franklin Regional next week.

Chase Sickenberger added a two-run home run for the Wildcats in the fourth inning.

Rayce King earned the win on the mound, throwing five innings of two-hit ball while striking out four and giving up two earned runs.

After scoring eight runs Tuesday, the Cavaliers left 11 runners on base.

“We couldn’t just get that one hit to stay in it, and they just kept slowly adding on and had two big home runs,” Kiski Area coach Aaron Albert said. “That’s baseball. It is what it is.”

The Cavaliers got runners in scoring position in six of the seven innings and capitalized only once. Kyle Poremski scored in the third inning on a Logan McGarry RBI single, and Mike Shoemaker scored on a Jacob Bucci RBI single to left field. But King repeatedly worked his way out of jams for Latrobe.

“He just had the confidence in his fielders, and he was making them (Kiski Area) hit his pitches,” Basciano said. “It wasn’t just all strikeouts. It was them hitting his pitches and the defense making plays.”

McGarry and Bucci had the only hits for Kiski Area, but the Cavaliers drew five walks and had four hit batsmen. Senior catcher Derek Hald drew three of the five walks.

With just two section games remaining, Kiski Area saw its chances of making the playoffs decrease, but Albert said the Cavaliers will get back to work Thursday as they prepare for a nonsection matchup against Connellsville on Friday.

“We’re not going to give up hope, and I credit that to the kids,” Albert said. “They show up every day ready to work, and some days it works out and some days it doesn’t but I know they’ll show up tomorrow ready to go, and we’ll learn from it.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .

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