No. 4 Penn-Trafford breaks out bats to defeat rival Norwin

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Thursday, April 18, 2019 | 8:59 PM


Jordan and Owen Sabol play for rival baseball teams. The former is a senior center fielder for Penn-Trafford, the latter a senior shortstop at Norwin.

Despite living in neighboring districts and playing youth baseball together for years, they are not related.

“We’ve been playing against each other since seventh grade,” Jordan Sabol said. “Maybe if you go way back and look it up, we’re like really distant cousins or something.”

Their teams were quite distant from one another, too, in Thursday’s Section 2-6A game.

The Sabols had an impact — Jordan went 2 for 4 with a two-run double, and Owen hit a solo home run — but first-place Penn-Trafford continued its effectiveness at the plate while Norwin remained lackluster offensively and Jordan’s Warriors won 8-3 in wind-whipped North Huntingdon.

The No. 4-ranked Warriors (11-1, 4-1), who have three straight wins over the No. 3 Knights (6-4, 2-3), did not strike out and had 12 hits, four of them doubles, to offset a slow start. They have won eight straight road games.

Norwin, meanwhile, had just three hits against Warriors senior ace Maclean Maund and senior reliever Bobby Kusinsky. Maund tossed 5 2/3 innings of two-hit baseball, striking out six and walking four. Kusinsky finished, despite allowing the Knights to get within 6-3 in the sixth.

“Early in the game, we had to overcome some adversity with our baserunning blunders,” said Warriors coach Dan Miller, a former Norwin assistant. “We worked on those things in practice, but sometimes the only way to fix that kind of thing is to learn in games. On the offensive side, we swung the bats well.”

Senior shortstop Mario Disso had three hits and an RBI for Penn-Trafford, and senior second baseman Connor Bannias, junior left fielder Bobby Lane and Sabol had two hits apiece, including a double.

Norwin, which has dropped three of its last four games, took a 1-0 lead into the fifth on Sabol’s third-inning blast before the Warriors finally got their bats around and chased sophomore starter Logan Divald.

Penn-Trafford put up three runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth to build a 6-1 advantage.

Senior designated hitter Luke Fabac ripped a two-out double to the left-field corner to tie it, and junior third baseman Anthony Sherwin added a sacrifice fly. A wild pitch allowed another run to score in the third, and the Warriors had a 3-1 lead.

In the sixth, Lane reached on an infield single, and Sabol followed with a base hit. Patterson’s sac fly was followed by consecutive RBI singles by senior right fielder Tyler Horvat and Disso to make it 6-1.

“We settled in,” Sabol said. “And our bats came alive. We like to say hitting is contagious.”

Norwin was no-hit by Plum on Tuesday and could not muster consistent offense against the Warriors, whose loss also is to Plum.

“We’re just not swinging the bats,” Norwin coach Mike Liebdzinski said. “Three hits in 14 innings isn’t going to cut it.”

A mild, two-out comeback in the sixth saw a walk to sophomore first baseman Jayden Walker, who then scored on a wild pitch before freshman Jake Kendro ripped a run-scoring single to cut it to 6-3.

After consecutive hits by Kusinsky and Bannias in the seventh, the Warriors tacked on two more with Sabol’s two-run, insurance double to right-center with two outs.

“At this point, (Penn-Trafford) is the best we’ll see in the section, lineup-wise,” Liebdzinski said. “They’re a good hitting team. We can’t give teams like that free bases. Our defense needs to be better. We’re done using the excuse that we’re young.”

Liebdzinski was pleased with Divald’s pitching but thought the Knights became complacent defensively after falling behind.

Junior Garrett Senchur and senior Ronnie Kachman saw relief time for the Knights. Walker, who some thought might be the Knights’ ace on the mound, has yet to pitch this season.

The Warriors are focused on winning their first section title since 2007. They have a half-game lead over Connellsville (5-1, 3-1), a razor-thin margin in this section.

“We’re though the first cycle of section play,” Miller said. “We have some tough games ahead of us, but we have to make sure we win the games we’re supposed to win.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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