OLSH walks off Riverview to run win streak to 12, reach Class 2A semifinals

Monday, May 20, 2024 | 8:54 PM

The Our Lady of the Sacred Heart baseball team won 11 games in a row to close the regular season.

During that stretch, the No. 2 Chargers scored 130 runs and allowed just 15.

OLSH didn’t have nearly the offensive success Monday in its WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinal matchup with No. 7 Riverview at Seneca Valley.

The Chargers scored just one time, but it was enough.

Pinch hitter Bruno Williams singled home pitcher Quinn Santelli with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning to give OLSH a 1-0 victory.

“It’s always tough to come on in that type of situation, but everyone’s energy was up, and my teammates were cheering me on,” said Williams, who has been a reserve player in all but one game this season. “I just took that energy and made sure I put the barrel on the ball.”

Williams rounded first base and was mobbed by his teammates.

“I expected them all to tackle me,” he said. “It was awesome.”

OLSH manager Phil McCarren said Williams was prepared to start had one of the regulars in the lineup, who was questionable for the game, not been able to go.

“We have a lot of confidence in Bruno,” McCarren said. “He’s a great contact hitter. He puts the bat on the ball. I told him to be ready for certain situations where I felt we could use him. He usually pulls the ball, so I was hoping he could pull something through the infield. With the infield up and two strikes, he went the other way with a base hit. He just did a great job for us.”

With the win, OLSH improves to 17-4. The Chargers don’t have to wait long for their semifinal matchup against section rival and No. 3 seed Seton LaSalle. The teams play at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at West Mifflin.

OLSH won both games against Seton, 8-2 and 12-4, on May 6-7.

“We talked about what it means if we were able to advance like we did,” McCarren said. “We now have to shift focus quickly and be ready to go again.”

For No. 7 Riverview, it was heartbreak for the second year in a row against the No. 2 seed.

Last year at Gateway, the Raiders led Seton LaSalle, 3-0, into the sixth before the Rebels rallied for the 6-3 win.

Monday, behind the pitching of the team’s lone senior, Jack Loughren, Riverview, which finished its season 13-7, went toe to toe with OLSH.

“I told the guys that they hung with the No. 2 seed,” Riverview coach Bill Gras said. “You can’t ask for much more than that. We hit the ball and got runners on base. But we just didn’t get the timely hitting we needed.”

Loughren, who surrendered just two hits while striking out nine in six-plus innings of the Raiders’ 2-0 first-round win over Beth-Center, didn’t give up a hit to an OLSH batter until the fourth.

Loughren ended up surrendering eight hits and two walks while striking out five.

He also started against the Chargers in an 8-3 nonsection win March 19 at Riverside Park.

Loughren was favoring his drive (right) leg in the latter stages of Monday’s game, but he powered through 104 pitches into the seventh.

“That is the type of kid and the type of leader for this team that Jack is,” said Gras, his voice cracking with emotion as he talked about his veteran righty.

“He’ll give you everything he has. It’s probably one of the best games he pitched all year.”

Loughren got Vann Kavals to pop out to second for the first out in the bottom of the seventh.

Santelli then helped his own cause with a single to start the rally. He moved to third on a single off the bat of Anthony Hansen.

The stage was set for Williams to become the hero.

“(Loughren) is a tremendous pitcher. We faced him in a nonsection game earlier in the season,” McCarren said. “He was dominant in that game, so we knew we were going to have our hands full. We also saw him on film a couple of times, so we tried to prepare the best we could.

“He was on today, and our pitcher, Quinn, was on today, too. It was just a great pitchers’ duel. It’s a shame someone has to lose a game like that.”

Santelli’s final line: seven hits, no walks and two strikeouts over seven innings.

OLSH tested Loughren in the bottom of the fifth.

Seeing he had the leg issue and also hoping to break through on the scoreboard, the first two Chargers batters — Santelli and Hansen — bunted. Lougren fielded both. Santelli beat out the throw, and on Loughren’s throw to first on Hansen’s bunt, the ball sailed wide and bounced to the fence.

Santelli tried to score all the way from first, but an on-point throw from right fielder Rex Roberts nailed him at the plate to preserve the scoreless tie.

The Raiders defense came up big in the bottom of the sixth, turning a double play to get out of a jam.

Riverview had the makings of a rally of its own in the top of the seventh.

Freshman catcher Miles Duncan singled to lead off the frame. Courtesy runner Owen Metz moved to second on a groundout by Roberts.

However, a steal attempt of third by Metz was unsuccessful, and OLSH had the second out of the inning.

Carter Loughren then singled to center.

Tyler Aftanas popped up to cap Riverview’s seventh.

“We put on the fake-bunt steal,” Gras said. “We’ve run it all year. Their catcher came up throwing, and they got us.”

The Raiders left a runner at second base in the first and fifth innings.

Rece Stempfer finished 2 for 3 to lead Riverview.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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