Penn-Trafford baseball avenges tight loss to Fox Chapel by walking it off in rematch

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Wednesday, March 27, 2024 | 9:26 PM


One walk-off win deserves another.

Wearing the frustration of a tight loss from two days earlier, Penn-Trafford’s Eric Biroscak led a last-inning rally in a rematch with No.5-ranked Fox Chapel.

The senior right fielder delivered a clutch, two-run single in the seventh Wednesday to lift the Warriors to a rousing 3-2 victory in the finale of the teams’ two-game Section 1-5A baseball series in Harrison City.

“This team never gives up,” said Biroscak, the No 9 hitter. “We knew we still had a chance.”

Down to their final two outs, the Warriors (3-1, 1-1) whipped up a quick comeback to avenge Monday’s 4-3 loss to the Foxes (2-2, 1-1) on the road that saw senior Mitchell Epstein knock in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth.

Penn-Trafford also rallied late in that game but finished the job this time after falling behind 2-0 in the fifth.

The bottom of the order sprang to life to rescue the Warriors.

Down 2-1 in the seventh, senior center fielder Carmen Metcalfe led off with a walk against Foxes junior Jeremy Haigh, who was pitching a gem. He took a three-hitter into the last inning before the tide abruptly turned, and the Warriors sawed off his bid at a complete-game win.

Metcalfe was out on a fielder’s choice, but junior second baseman Brayden Stone reached safely.

Junior designated hitter Ethan Septak then singled to right, and Stone went to third when the ball got behind Foxes senior right fielder Logan Hoffman.

Up came Biroscak, who sharply sent an 0-1 pitch to left to score Stone and senior pinch-runner David Newsome for the tying and winning runs.

“I was told to bunt, but I saw a ball I didn’t like, so I changed my approach,” Biroscak said. “I turned on it. I knew it was going to drop. My coach was screaming at me to get going.”

Septak, the No. 8 hitter, finished 2 for 3.

Biroscak had all three RBIs. He made it 2-1 in the fifth on a fielder’s choice.

Fox Chapel and Haigh were cruising along at that point. In fact, Haigh took a no-hitter into the fifth before Septak broke it up with a single to center.

“We gave up that leadoff walk at the end, they had that single and we let it get by us,” Foxes coach Jim Hastings said. “We had to pull our infield up at that point, and the kid made a good swing. That kind of thing happens. They’re a good team, and we knew it was going to be close. We both have two good horses and more.

“We didn’t swing the bats well enough.”

Fox Chapel had eight hits but left seven on base, including two in the seventh against Warriors freshman reliever Ben Grabowski.

After two strikeouts to start the inning, Grabowski allowed a single and a walk. But he struck out Epstein to end the threat with runners at first and second.

“Fox Chapel is a good team, and they put the ball in play,” Penn-Trafford acting coach Frank Pecora said. “You have to be ready to play seven innings against them. Either team could have won both games.

“Our guys battled and believed could get it done.”

Penn-Trafford played without coach Lou Cortazzo, who was in Florida for a family event, and senior Jason Sabol missed the game with an illness.

“With those guys out, it made us want it even more,” Biroscak said. “We knew we could do it with all nine in.”

Fox Chapel scored twice in the fifth, on an infield single by junior shortstop Antonio LeDonne and an RBI single to center by Epstein.

LeDonne went 3 for 3 and reached base four times. Senior second baseman Ben DeMotte had two hits for the Foxes.

Grabowski was the winning pitcher.

Pecora said Baliscak came through when the Warriors needed him most.

“With his work ethic and the time he puts in, he deserved this opportunity,” Pecora said. “We did some adjusting (with Sabol out), but we didn’t skip a beat.”

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

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