Penn-Trafford uses disciplined attack to back pitcher Grabowski in win over Latrobe

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Tuesday, May 3, 2022 | 7:44 PM


Penn-Trafford baseball coaches and players talked about the importance of hitting and throwing first-pitch strikes against section champion Latrobe.

They also discussed ways to possibly drum up offense if they were to earn a Section 1-5A sweep against the Wildcats.

It all worked out according to plan, and the Warriors pulled out the brooms.

Plate discipline and smarts on the base paths produced a 4-3 win over the No. 5-ranked Wildcats on Tuesday before thunderstorms rolled into the area.

The host Warriors (11-4, 7-3), who have won four of their last five, had only four hits — three from sophomore Tyler Freas — but they produced just enough offense to back a 10-strikeout, no-walk effort from junior pitcher Dylan Grabowski.

“Going into the last two games, we were averaging around four runs a game,” Penn-Trafford coach Dan Miller said. “And we were allowing three runs a game. We knew we had to be better with the bats and maybe have to steal some runs here and there.

“We knew we didn’t have a shot at the section, but we knew we’d get two really good games. This helps our confidence to get these wins.”

Latrobe (10-6, 8-2), which had won nine of 10 before three straight losses, rallied from 1-0 and 3-1 deficits to make the Warriors work.

After sophomore Jake Cramer doubled, senior Logan Short launched a two-run homer to deep left in the top of the sixth to tie it 3-3.

But the Warriors responded in the bottom of the inning. Junior Peyton Bigler reached on an error and was sacrificed to second by sophomore Chuck Fontana III.

Freas then ripped a single to left to make it 4-3.

Grabowski was approaching his 100-pitch limit in the seventh but finished to earn the complete-game win.

“Dylan was special today,” Miller said. “He threw first-pitch strikes and had zero walks.”

To that crafty base running: The Warriors took a 3-1 lead in the fifth behind sophomore Jason Sabol, who walked to start the inning.

After Latrobe made a pitching change — senior Bobby Fetter for senior Jake Albaugh — Sabol stole second.

After a flyout, Sabol swiped third.

After Grabowski walked, the Warriors sent courtesy runner Braden Boss, and when the throw went down to second, Sabol stole home.

“This gives us momentum going into the playoffs, and into some tough nonsection games coming up,” Freas said. “We hit first-pitch strikes.”

Penn-Trafford is the only section opponent Latrobe did not sweep.

In Monday’s game, the Warriors won 10-6 as Brady Lane and Grabowski went 3 for 3.

Short went 4 for 4 with a three-run homer that came under controversy. His long shot to right center at Graham-Sobota Field apparently bounced over the fence. But the umpires ruled it a home run.

That game was similar to Latrobe’s season, only it favored Penn-Trafford.

The Warriors had a 9-2 cushion at the time of the phantom homer, so it ultimately didn’t matter.

Latrobe clinched the section title three weeks ago, building equity to take some of the shine off the section finale against the Warriors.

The games still mattered, though, and the Wildcats knew it.

“Baseball is all about streaks,” Latrobe coach Matt Basciano said. “We started out hot and had a nice rally. Now, we’re in that valley. We just don’t want to fall into the Grand Canyon. It’s hard when you lock up the section and wait and wait.

“We rallied today, which was a positive. Our guys were fired up and wanted to win. They battled. We need that fire moving forward and in the playoffs.”

Penn-Trafford’s first run scored in the second on a bases-loaded single by Freas.

Latrobe made it 1-1 in the fourth on an RBI single by senior Vinny Amatucci.

Junior Jake Otto gave the Warriors a 2-1 advantage in the fourth with a single.

Cramer went 2 for 3 for the Wildcats.

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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