Latrobe’s promising playoff run continues with 4A quarterfinal win over Chartiers Valley

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Monday, May 22, 2023 | 8:26 PM


Dante Basciano was a bat boy on the 2017 Latrobe baseball team that won WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A titles.

A wide-eyed tyke no longer, the Wildcats’ senior sees similarities between the current team and that historic one.

“It’s the camaraderie and the way we are together,” he said. “You can feel it: There is something with this team.”

It remains to be seen if this Latrobe club has a championship in it, but it is a step closer.

Fifth-seeded Latrobe scratched out enough offense to back the starting pitching of senior Logan Bradish and get past No. 4 Chartiers Valley, 4-2, in the WPIAL 4A quarterfinals Monday at Gateway.

The Wildcats (16-6) were gearing up to play less than 24 hours later with a semifinal against No. 1 Montour (19-3) set for 4 p.m. Tuesday at Boyce-Mayview Park in Upper St. Clair.

It will be the Wildcats’ first semifinal trip since that magical run in ’17.

“These guys will do whatever it takes to win,” Latrobe coach Matt Basciano said. “They don’t want to lose. We knew this was going to be a battle. The Barbie car goes to the whole team again.”

Latrobe, which awards the toy car to the player of the game, fought back from an early one-run deficit to finally go ahead for good after loading the bases in the top of the sixth.

Sophomore Eli Boring singled, senior Tyler Fazekas was hit by a pitch and junior Riley Smith reached on a bunt single that seemed to surprise the Colts (14-7).

That brought up Dante Basciano, whose nubber toward third looked harmless enough but went for another single and made it 3-2.

Senior Erick Batista followed and reached on an error, allowing the fourth run to score.

“However we can score, that’s what we do,” Bradish said.

Bradish dealt a 1-2-3 sixth, then settled in after a leadoff walk in the seventh to force a pop up and strike out the last two hitters.

“This team is a lot of fun to be around,” said Bradish, who struck out four, scattered five hits and threw 102 pitches for his second win of the postseason. “Everyone does their job, one through nine.”

You could tell who was winning by the noise coming from the Wildcats’ dugout.

“It’s great to have that energy,” Bradish said. “We get loud. A lot of guys want to be here.”

Boring and Smith had two hits apiece, and Batista drove in two runs. Smith had an RBI single to make it 1-1 in the second.

An error — one of four by the Colts — pushed home the Wildcats’ second run, with the bases loaded.

Boring, Fazekas and Smith had three straight singles in the inning. Boring scored two runs.

Chartiers Valley, which also was seeking its first semifinal trip since ’17 — the Colts lost to Latrobe, 2-1, that year — tied it 2-2 in the fourth on senior Layne Lesko’s sacrifice fly.

The Colts had a 1-0 lead in the first when senior Justin Ferrari homered to right.

Latrobe wasn’t shaken. In fact, the early deficit seemed energize the team.

Latrobe could have added to its lead, but it left the bases jammed twice. The Wildcats compensated by backing Bradish’s steady outing.

“Bradish is a bulldog out there,” Matt Basciano said. “He didn’t let that home run bother him. We made an error but quickly flushed it and moved on. Chartiers Valley hit the ball hard. We probably could have done more (with the bases loaded).”

Said Dante Basciano: “Logan was phenomenal. He came into this game with a chip on his shoulder because he thought he could have pitched better against Kiski Area. He brought his best today.”

Senior Tyler Zallenick started and pitched 4 2/3 innings before senior Brandon Cruz finished for Chartiers Valley.

Zallenick also doubled in the loss.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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