Penn-Trafford drops Franklin Regional in section opener

Monday, April 4, 2022 | 9:10 PM

Nolan Marasti told his coach after a recent practice that he planned to pitch seven innings in the section opener.

The Penn-Trafford junior lived up to his promise, tossing a complete game Monday as the Warriors started Section 1-5A play with a crisp, 4-3 victory over No. 2 Franklin Regional under a grey sky at Haymaker Park in Murrysville.

Marasti struck out seven, walked two and hit two batters, junior Dylan Grabowski blasted a towering home run and junior Peyton Bigler had two RBIs for the Warriors (4-0, 1-0).

“I told coach Miller I was going to pitch the whole game,” Marasti said. “I wanted to go out and work fast and get the job done.”

The teams will meet again in the second game of their back-to-back series Tuesday at Penn-Trafford.

Penn-Trafford coach Dan Miller contemplated pulling Marasti but appreciated his confidence and stayed with him as his pitch count climbed to the edge but didn’t fall over it.

“He became a bulldog,” Miller said. “He wants the baseball. That’s what you want to see. Some kids shy away from that and don’t want the baseball. Nolan took it one out at a time. It’s great to be able to use just one (pitcher) in a section game like that.”

Defending WPIAL champion Franklin Regional (3-2, 0-1) cut a three-run deficit to 4-3 with a two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth. Senior Jordan Suvak produced a run-scoring triple, and another run came home on a passed ball.

Still, the Panthers could not chase Marasti, who threw 98 pitches — two shy of the limit — and finished behind some big hits and swift defense.

“Marasti did a great job mixing his pitches,” Panthers coach Bobby Saddler said. “When someone is feeling it like that, it’s tough to break up their timing.”

The fast-working right-hander allowed four hits, including a single to senior Kyle Morgan with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Marasti just had plunked junior Dan Luko, and Morgan’s liner to right that plugged in the outfield grass put two on for the Warriors.

But Marasti, after a mound conference to discuss the status of his left ankle, which got stuck in a rut on the mound, avoided trouble.

His ankle was fine, and so was his demeanor.

Suvak grounded into a 5-4-3 double play — Bigler to Grabowski to junior Brady Lane — to end it.

“My curveball was good today. It was dropping in,” Marasti said. “My two-seamer was working, too. I have such a great defense behind me and a great catcher (in sophomore Ian Temple).”

The Warriors put their leadoff hitter on base five times. They took a 2-0 lead in the third on a two-run single by Bigler. Franklin Regional made it 2-1 on a fielder’s choice off the bat of senior Thomas Nicely.

But Grabowski launched a two-run blast over the center-field fence in the fifth to extend the lead to 4-1.

“He earned that one,” Saddler said of the homer. “That was a big swing.”

Said Miller: “That was a shot. Home runs are great, but we don’t want to rely on getting offense that way. That’s not the kind of team we are.”

Penn-Trafford also was limited to four hits. Senior Caden Smith started on the mound for Franklin Regional and was relieved in the fifth by Morgan, a lefty who cut off a Penn-Trafford threat in the sixth with back-to-back strikeouts after there were runners at second and third.

Marasti set down the Panthers in order in the sixth.

“We’re getting guys in scoring position,” Saddler said. “But we have to get runs in. We have to find a way to get it done. We have to turn the page and get ready to go to their place.”

Saddler is a Penn-Trafford graduate.

Franklin Regional swept the Warriors in section last year.

“We had a chance to beat them in the last game and couldn’t get it done,” Miller said. “There was no letdown today.”

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

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