Montour bounces back from rough 1st inning to top Latrobe in wild 4A quarterfinal

Monday, May 20, 2024 | 9:44 PM

When things went sideways for Montour in what would become an excruciatingly long first inning, coach Bob Janeda didn’t fret.

One of his players screamed out that it was “only the first” and for his teammates to “get up and stay up.”

There was a plenty of baseball left — in that wild opening inning, in particular, and beyond.

After fifth-seeded Latrobe put up four runs in the top of the first, No. 4 Montour responded with seven in the bottom of the 52-minute frame on the way to a 9-5 victory in a WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinal Monday at West Mifflin.

The Spartans got up, and they stayed up.

“Our team battles,” Janeda said. “They have been in this position before. Once we got a few hits, it felt all right. The floodgates opened.”

Montour (14-6) advances to play No. 9 Indiana in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Plum.

Latrobe (18-5) upset the No. 1-seeded Spartans, 10-7, last season in the semifinals. That was game was prime incentive for the Spartans in the rematch.

“No. 1 motivation,” Janeda said. “Latrobe is a respectful, classy team. But we talked about (the loss), and it was huge. This was a revenge game. Last year, we jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and they came back.”

Latrobe (2017) and Montour (’22) both have a PIAA championship in the last seven years.

Latrobe was on a five-game wining streak and had hopes of reaching the WPIAL finals for the second straight year.

But control issues hindered Wildcats pitchers early, and the climb from a 9-4 deficit was too much to ask.

“They’re a great team,” Latrobe coach Matt Basciano said of Montour. “They go to battle, and they hit the ball, one through nine. When we got up, we had to buckle down. They found some holes.”

The first inning saw 11 runs, eight hits, three walks, a wild pitch and three hit batsmen.

The announcer told the crowd before the second inning, “After the longest inning in WPIAL history, it’s Montour 7 and Latrobe 4.”

The Wildcats took a 4-0 lead on one hit. The Spartans allowed three walks and a two-run error, and Eli Boring knocked in a run.

Four consecutive hits jump-started Montour — singles by Matteo Weber, Maddox Tarquinio, Jake Robinson, and Michael Ivanoff — to quickly cut it to 4-2.

A sacrifice fly by Jonathan Cecil and a double off the fence in left from Andrew Porto followed, before a two-run double to the gap by Jason George had the Spartans on top 5-4.

Both starting pitchers were chased after 13 of an inning. Riley Smith left for Latrobe, and Dom Cararini took over. But he hit three batters and threw a wild pitch, and the lead swelled to 7-4.

The Spartans had 12 hits and five errors.

Weber started for Montour because Robinson, the team’s ace and a Kent State commit, was “banged up,” Janeda said.

“I thought we could put up eight or 10 runs today,” Janeda said. “We started our sophomore, and maybe that wasn’t his best. But he battled. It was huge to knock their No. 1 out.”

The reliever, another sophomore in Cyprian Slifkey, earned his first varsity win, working until the fifth when Tarquinio took over.

Josh Peremba made it 8-4 with a double in the third, and the ninth run crossed in the fourth on Porto’s RBI single.

Latrobe added a run in the fifth on Vince Gaskey’s fielder’s choice, but the Wildcats left runners stranded at second and third.

They also left runners at first and second in the sixth, and the deficit remained 9-5.

“I give our kids credit,” Basciano said. “They could have rolled over. It’s baseball. You work to get runs in, and we didn’t get them in.”

Latrobe used three pitchers in Smith, Cararini and Luke Nipar-Smith.

“We play in the toughest section in 4A,” Janeda said. “We’ve won the section four years in a row with a 40-4 record. The four losses are by four runs total. Our guys are prepared for big games.”

Brody Rumon had two hits for Latrobe.

Robinson went 2 for 3, and Porto was 2 for 4.

“My hat goes off to them,” Basciano said. “These were two good teams. I think we got everything we could out of this group. They fought until the end — no quit.”

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

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