Peters leads Ringgold past Hopewell in PIAA Class 4A quarterfinals
By: William Whalen
Friday, June 8, 2018 | 12:09 AM
Traveling to Peters Township and playing at Peterswood Park, it was in the cards that Ringgold's No. 3 pitcher, Josh Peters, turn in an ace performance.
With the help of some generous run support, Peters managed to push the butterflies far enough down in his belly and throw a one-hit gem as WPIAL Class 4A runner-up Ringgold rolled past WPIAL rival Hopewell, 12-0, in five innings in the PIAA quarterfinals Thursday evening.
“(Peters) is just as a good as our No. 1 and No. 2 (pitchers),” Ringgold coach Don Roberts said. “He's got good stats, a good curveball and pounds the strike zone. One thing, I think getting him a couple of runs early helped him relax.”
Ringgold (18-4) advances to Monday's PIAA semifinal game against District 10 runner-up Meadville at a site and time to be determined. Meadville advanced on a 4-3 walk-off win over District 6 champ Bellefonte.
“Hats off to Ringgold, that's a heck of a performance,” Hopewell coach Michael Shuleski said.
It was a performance by Peters that almost never came to be. The junior hurler got the call from Roberts Wednesday night that he was getting the start because of some discomfort in Chase Angotti's throwing arm. Peters had less than 24 hours to get his head straight for the biggest game of his life.
“I got a phone call late last night,” Peters said. “I was ready and confident in myself. I prepared all day to get ready; it was as simple as that.”
Peters made it look real simple. After the offense gave him a 2-0 cushion in the first inning, Peters sat down the Hopewell (15-11) side in order in the first inning.
“They were probably 95-percent fastballs, and I was putting them in my spots,” Peters said.
Peters' stat line for his first PIAA outing was one hit, one walk and three strikeouts through five innings.
Sophomore Jake McGovern got the start for the Vikings. Despite giving up two runs in the first inning, he came out in the second and faced three batters, giving up just a walk to Ringgold's Jake Mayer. Mayer later got picked off at first before Nick Kolano struck out to end the inning.
“I think the main thing was that they weren't being overly aggressive at the plate,” Roberts said.
McGovern kept the Rams' hitters at bay for much of the third inning until Ringgold's Ryan Varley lined a ball over the left fielder's head and onto the crushed brick warning track. Varley's hit sparked a seven-run barrage and marked the beginning of the end for McGovern, who lasted 2 2⁄3 innings.
The Rams' Anthony Vavasori drilled a fast grounder just beneath the short stop's glove and into the outfield to score Angotti, and Bob Boyer smacked a two-run single to give Ringgold a 5-0 lead.
Mayer came back with a deep drive down the right-field line to extend Ringgold's lead to 7-0. Vikings relief pitcher Tyler Pigoni struck out Kolano looking to get out of the inning. Mayer finished 2 for 2, including two RBIs and a walk.
“The last two games, we faced two pretty good pitchers, and they held us down pretty good,” Roberts said. “I had a feeling that we were due to explode.”
Peters saw three batters in the third inning before getting Hopewell's Tyler Beck to fly out to center field to end the inning.
Shuleski put Alex Kunzman on the hill in the fourth inning. Angotti singled to shallow center to start the inning and Koby Bubash doubled off the right-field fence to put runners at second and third. Varley delivered again when he tripled to left field to give the Rams a commanding 9-0 lead. Varley finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs.
“They did good job at hitting with runners in scoring position today,” Roberts said.
Boyer stepped to the plate with two outs and put the final three nails in the Vikings' coffin with a three-run homer to straight-way center field to put the game away and enforce the 10-run mercy rule.
“He's really pounding the ball pretty good,” Roberts said. “He's a big kid. He can hit the ball out of any park.”
Boyer was 2 for 3 with five RBIs.
“I was just trying to put the bat on the ball, get a run and put the game away,” Boyer said. “It was a four-seam fastball. I saw it the whole way.”
William Whalen is a freelance writer.