Latrobe baseball team makes most out of few chances in win over Penn-Trafford

Thursday, May 6, 2021 | 10:16 PM

Latrobe’s offense took a break Thursday, but the Wildcats baseball team still managed to beat Penn-Trafford for a second consecutive day.

Latrobe scored all its runs in the first inning without a hit, and Rayce King and Tommy Ciesielski combined on a five-hitter as the visiting Wildcats won, 3-1.

The victory comes a day after Latrobe handed Penn-Trafford a 10-0 loss at Latrobe.

“A win is a win is a win,” Latrobe coach Matt Basciano said. “Our major emphasis has been coming up with that big hit. The last few games, we’d been doing that. Today we didn’t, but we manufactured three runs there in the first inning and we relied on great pitching and good defense, and we held them.”

Penn-Trafford starter Matt Lichota couldn’t overcome wildness in the first inning, walking five of the seven batters he faced, before Nolan Marasti relieved and hit Drew Clair.

Catcher Jacob Haynes’ throwing error and a misplayed ball that caused a collision between center fielder Easton Ritter and right fielder Zach Hoffman also contributed to the Warriors’ woes.

Marasti pitched the remainder of the game, limiting Latrobe to just two hits in seven innings.

“He pitched great,” Basciano said. “He really kept us off balance. But our guys pitched well, too. They deserve credit. And when we did hit the ball, we stung it but right at somebody. They made the plays. That left fielder robbed ‘Tuck’ of a home run. That was over the fence.”

Basciano was referring to Jason Sabol’s leaping grab of Tucker Knupp’s drive with two on in the fourth inning.

Landon Carns’ double to lead off the fourth and Clair’s single to lead off the sixth (he was erased on a double play) were the only Penn-Trafford hits against Lichota and Marasti.

Lichota walked Logan Short to start the game. After Chase Sickenberger reached on the misplayed flyball in right-center, Vinny Amatucci walked.

It looked as though Lichota might escape the inning unscathed when Knupp popped out to second baseman Dylan Grabowski in short right field. Grabowski threw home, but the ball was cut off by first baseman Tyler Hoover, who then threw to shortstop Rylie Bellan in an attempt to catch Sickenberger in a rundown.

Bellan then fired home to nail Short, attempting to score, and complete the double play.

But Lichota walked Clay Petrosky and Erick Batista to produce a run before Haynes’ wild pickoff throw to first allowed two more to cross.

“Disappointing, isn’t it,” Penn-Trafford coach Dan Miller said. “There’s no layups in this section. It’s tough.”

Penn-Trafford scored its only run in the sixth and knocked out King in the process. Sabol singled, stole second and came home on successive wild pitches. After King walked Grabowski, Ciesielski relieved and retired the next three batters to end the rally.

“If we keep getting good at-bats and good pitching, like we’ve had the last few games, and we keep moving forward, I’m confident in this team,” Basciano said. “Hopefully, we’re hitting our stride at the right time.”

Both teams are postseason-bound, having completed their Section 1-5A schedules.

Latrobe (10-8, 6-4) is scheduled to play Class 6A opponents Pine-Richland and North Allegheny leading up to the WPIAL playoffs.

“They made some pretty good plays out there today. I give them credit,” Miller said of Latrobe. “That’s a team that could challenge some people in the playoffs. I think some people overlook them.”

Perhaps he was referring to his own team over the past two days.

“There’s no motivation I can say to get them ready to play,” Miller said. “They need to be ready to play. It starts with pitching. I’ve harped on that all season long. With our defense, we’ll be in every game, but pitching wins championships, and our pitching did not measure up in the first inning.”

Penn-Trafford (10-6, 6-4) also plays Pine-Richland and North Allegheny plus Mt. Lebanon before the playoffs.

“They’re all 6A powerhouses,” Miller said. “We’re going to find out how we measure up next week. Hopefully, those are good tests for us. We do not want to limp into the playoffs. We want to come in on a positive.”

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