Montour gets past West Mifflin to avenge WPIAL championship game loss

Monday, June 13, 2022 | 8:07 PM

Montour and West Mifflin didn’t need 12 innings this time to decide a baseball playoff game between the two schools.

Montour scored two runs in the top of the first inning Monday, and that was enough for senior Dylan Mathiesen as the Spartans defeated the Titans, 2-1, in a PIAA Class 4A state semifinal at North Allegheny.

Mathiesen gave up four hits and struck out 10, including three batters in the seventh to seal the victory.

Montour (20-6) will advance to its first state final at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Penn State’s Medlar Field against Holy Ghost Prep. West Mifflin (20-4), also bidding for its first trip to the PIAA finals, defeated Montour, 5-4, in 12 innings in the WPIAL championship game May 31 at Wild Things Park.

“That’s not ideal,” Spartans coach Bob Janeda of Monday’s just-adequate offensive output. “We put up two in the first. We’ve got to add on and we didn’t do it. Their pitcher settled down and he threw harder in the sixth and seventh. He settled down and threw a beautiful game and it was an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel.”

West Mifflin sophomore Zane Griffaton yielded a walk and a hit batsman with one out to start the game. Mason Sike singled home Brock Janeda with the first run. Then Cole Fleck hit a comebacker to Griffaton, who threw to second for a force play. But that was all the Titans would get as pinch runner Maddox Tarquinio scored the second run on the play.

After that, only three batters reached base as Griffaton retired the final 13 batters he faced.

In the West Mifflin fourth, Jake Walker, who will be Mathiesen’s teammate at Cal (Pa.) in the fall, tripled to deep center to start the inning. Mathiesen then uncorked a wild pitch that bounced back toward catcher Matt Luchovick as Walker raced home. Walker’s left arm just got under Mathiesen’s tag to cut the Titans’ deficit to 2-1.

“Another classic game. I wouldn’t have expected this game to go any other way,” West Mifflin coach Jeff Kuzma said. “I would have taken another 12-inning marathon at that point. Two great teams, and the WPIAL will be well-represented with Montour in the state championship.”

West Mifflin had some opportunities.

Mike Lydon walked to start the fifth and was wild-pitched to second with none out. Mathiesen then struck out Ryan Lang, induced a popup to short from Corey Kuszaj and struck out Griffaton with what he described as the fastest of his 100 pitches.

“I was definitely stronger later in the game,” Mathiesen said. “I was hitting the outside spot every single time. My catcher and I worked with a dummy yesterday that was leaning halfway over the plate and I just tried to hit the outside.”

Devin Matey singled with one out in the sixth, but pinch runner Tyler Schmidt was out trying to steal second. Luchovick’s throw was to the right side of second base, but shortstop Jacob Robinson tagged Schmidt’s leg just as he dove toward the base.

Bert Kovalsky singled with one out in the seventh and stole second, but Mathiesen fanned the final two batters to secure a trip to University Park on Thursday.

“We were aware of the bunting and the things they do, and we prepared in practice for all that,” coach Janeda said. “We took the out on their one sacrifice. We’re a veteran team, and we walked out of Wild Things Park thinking we were the better team. That fueled us a lot.”

“We’ll compete to the very last pitch and we did that in the seventh inning,” Kuzma said. ”A little lack of execution at times hurt us. All you can ask for in a 2-1 ballgame is to put yourself in a position to push a across another run.”

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