Nolan Marasti, Penn-Trafford avenge last season’s playoff loss to Peters Township

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Monday, May 22, 2023 | 6:48 PM


Penn-Trafford senior pitcher Nolan Marasti waited all season to pitch again in the WPIAL playoffs.

It just happened to be against the team, Peters Township, that he lost to and eliminated the Warriors from the 2022 playoffs.

It was the same team, same venue and almost the same date. But this was a different outcome.

Marasti threw six strong innings, and Penn-Trafford manufactured four runs in a 4-2 Class 5A quarterfinal game at West Mifflin. Peters Township handed Marasti and the Warriors a 6-5 defeat in the 2022 quarterfinals.

No. 3 Penn-Trafford (14-5) will face No. 2 Bethel Park, which defeated Upper St. Clair, at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Washington & Jefferson’s Ross Memorial Park.

“Now that we won, I feel like I dropped 50 pounds. I’m exhausted,” Marasti said. “We went out and did our jobs. It was awesome.”

Marasti scattered seven hits, struck out seven and did not walk a batter.

“It takes pressure off my mind knowing what a great defense I have behind me,” Marasti said. “I have a great catcher, and the offense, every time they scored we came back to get the run back.”

The Warriors scored single runs in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings, and each time they got the leadoff hitter on base via a hit by pitch or a walk.

In the first inning, Dylan Grabowski was hit by a pitch with two outs and scored on an RBI double to left-center by Brady Hoffman.

No. 6 Peters Township (14-7) tied the score in the third inning when Luke Scott walked, was balked to second and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jack Lutte.

Penn-Trafford bounced back to reclaim the lead when Ian Temple walked, Ty Freas singled and Brayden Stone bunted for a hit to load the bases. Grabowski then hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1.

“This is what we’ve been doing the second half of the season,” Penn-Trafford coach Lou Cortazzo said. “We’re putting the ball in play and putting pressure on our opponents. If they want to give us a free base, we’ll take it. We’ve been a good two-strike hitting team and a good two-out hitting team.”

The Warriors made it 3-1 in the fourth inning when Brady Lane walked, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on Peyton Bigler singled.

Peters Township scored a run in the top of the fifth inning on a double by Jack Natili, a Rutgers recruit. The Indians and their faithful thought they tied the score when Lutte hit a shot down the right-field line, but the home plate umpire immediately called the ball foul.

“When he hit it, I saw it go up. I just turned my head and prayed,” Marasti said. “I’m glad it went foul.”

Marasti then struck out Lutte.

“Maybe things would have gone a little different if it went our way,” Peters Township coach Rocky Plassio said. “I told the players we can’t change that, and we don’t want to leave games in the hands of the umpires.”

Cortazzo said he had no angle to see if the ball was fair or foul. He was just glad the call went his way.

But Penn-Trafford got the run back when Grabowski again was hit by a pitch, the 12th time this season. Hoffman followed with a single, his second of the game, and Chuck Fontana reached on a fielder’s choice that moved Grabowski to third. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Carmen Metcalfe.

“They did a great job manufacturing runs when they needed to, and that’s a sign of a good team,” Plassio said. “Last year when we played it was the same way. We knew they wanted this game.

“It wasn’t necessarily that we played a messy game. They we were able get runners home.”

Cortazzo couldn’t say enough about Marasti and reliever Evan Del Signore, who retired Peters Township in order in the seventh inning.

“Nolan is a bulldog,” Cortazzo said. “He had a chip on his shoulder. He was in this position last year, and he came out on the short end. He wasn’t about to let that happen this year.

“It was sweet redemption. It was a phenomenal performance by both pitchers.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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