Mohawk baseball downs Greensburg Salem in Class 3A 1st round

Thursday, May 18, 2023 | 10:51 PM

After already doubling their win total from a year ago, the Greensburg Salem baseball team was looking to battle its way into the district quarterfinals.

However push came to shove — literally — in the fourth inning of their WPIAL Class 3A first-round game against Mohawk.

When the dust settled, the six runs scored in that inning were enough for the Warriors to beat the Golden Lions, 9-3, on Thursday at Matulevic Field in Shaler.

Mohawk received contributions from up and down the order as it hammered out 12 hits.

“This is a lot of what we had done at the beginning of the year,” Mohawk coach Nick Maiorano said. “We got contributions up and down the line up with big hits from the middle and the bottom of our order, setting the table for the top of the order.”

A close game was blown open as the Warriors scored six runs in an edge-of-the-seat top of the fourth inning.

With Mohawk leading 1-0, the Warriors’ Aiden Bowser reached on an error, Jackson Chapman singled and a sacrifice bunt by Vinny Pezzuolo moved both runners up.

Jacob Werner doubled them home to make it 3-0. A Mason Hopper single and stolen base put runners on second and third again and set up the mid-game fireworks show.

A perfect squeeze bunt down the first-base line by J.J. Nail scored Werner.

Greensburg Salem thought it had Hopper after the Mohawk junior rounded third base wide after the bunt. Golden Lions catcher Noah DeMary received the throw from first baseman Grant Smith, then threw to third baseman Peyton Chismar, whose tag on Hopper was late. That tag led to Chismar and Hopper pushing and shoving, and it didn’t take long for others to get involved.

“I didn’t catch it until our coaches were going over to break up what was going on, so I didn’t have a good look,” Maiorano said as he was coaching first base at the time.

Greensburg Salem head coach Anthony Manley wasn’t pleased with what happened.

“It was very unfortunate. There is no place in the game for that, no matter who was at fault.”

Once cooler heads prevailed, umpires ejected two players from each team: Hopper and Bowser for Mohawk and Chismar and Nick Outly for Greensburg Salem.

Two batters after the dust up, Warriors catcher A.J. Verdi singled home two runners and later scored on another error to give Mohawk a 7-0 lead.

With the score 8-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Golden Lions rallied for three runs when Owen Tutich drove home Tyler Martin on a groundout. Smith doubled home Braedon Leatherman, who had been hit by a pitch, and Smith scored on a double by DeMary.

“Still hurt by miscues in the field, but we’ll be better and learn from it,” Manley said. “We had some chances early on but couldn’t get the big hit. I give our kids credit, down 8-0, they could have tanked but they played hard all the way.”

That rally chased Mohawk starter Pezzuolo. The ninth grader kept Greensburg Salem off balance with his various off-speed pitches.

“Vinny is a freshman out there. He was fantastic,” Maiorano said. “We have a lot of confidence giving him the ball in his first playoff game as a pitcher, but that’s how he is. He wants the ball, and he wants to play. He was excellent.”

Greensburg Salem’s turnaround season ends. The Golden Lions were 6-10 last spring, but under Manley in his first season, they end up 13-6.

“I’m proud of our guys. This season was a success,” Manley said. “They’ve given us so much since Day One. There was a learning curve early, but they improved. It wasn’t a fluke. They earned their success.”

Mohawk improves to 13-7, but it has concerns as it prepares for East Allegheny next week.

The Warriors lost freshman second baseman Bobby Fadden to a leg injury in the third inning and may have to play without Bowser and Hopper following their ejections.

An ejected high school player is suspended for the team’s next game.

“That’s how I understand it, but we’ll have to have that confirmed,” Maiorano said. “Whatever actions we can take to help them out, we’ll see what we can do.”

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