Peters Township baseball slugs way past Latrobe in WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinals

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Friday, May 21, 2021 | 5:57 PM


Throughout this season, Latrobe baseball coach Matt Basciano has admired his team’s ability to scrap and claw its way to victories.

No deficit was ever too big. A defensive play here. A base hit there. The Wildcats always seemed to find a way.

But in Friday’s WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinals at West Mifflin, No. 13-seeded Peters Township proved to be too much, eliminating Latrobe with a 9-5 victory.

Starting pitcher Sam Miller and center fielder Tucker Ferris hit home runs, and the Indians (10-10) scored in every inning but one to advance to the WPIAL semifinals and secure the opportunity to play at least three more games.

No. 12 Latrobe ended the season at 13-9.

“They’ve had so many close games and come-from-behind games, so we’ve talked about that. They have a ton of heart. There is no quit,” Basciano said. “Even to the last inning there, there was a lot of fight and we’ve been talking about ‘whoever believes the most’ and I saw that from them today.”

The Indians will face the winner of No. 1 Franklin Regional and No. 8 Mars at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Norwin.

On Friday, the Indians struck first as junior shortstop Jack Kail led off the game with a triple to right-center and senior first baseman Mac Ciocco brought him home with an RBI single.

“That was a great way to start the game,” Peters Township coach Rocky Plassio said.

The Indians added two more in the top of the second inning, but Latrobe made it 3-1 in the bottom of the inning when Rayce King drove in Erick Bautista with an RBI single to left.

Peters Township extended its lead to 4-1 in the third on Ferris’ solo homer to left-center.

However, Latrobe got within 4-3 when senior Tucker Knupp delivered a two-RBI double to left-center. Miller struck out the final two batters of the inning to strand Knupp at second. He then gave himself some run support an inning later with a two-run homer to left-center to make it 6-3.

“It’s funny because in Round 1, being our cleanup hitter, I had him sacrifice bunt twice,” Plassio said. “So, what I told him in that at-bat was, ‘You’ve trusted in me, so I’m going to trust in you. Even though this goes against what I want to do, I want to move the runner over, I have a feeling you are going to get a hit.’ Then, sure enough, he makes me look like a genius.”

Knupp had another RBI double in the bottom half of the inning, and junior catcher Logan Short drove in Rayce King with an RBI single in the top of the sixth. The Wildcats didn’t have enough, though, as the Indians scored two more runs in the top of the seventh inning.

“We kept answering back and kept chipping away,” Basciano said. “We’d get it down, and then they’d come back, and that’s why I thought this was a great game and two evenly matched teams slugging it out out there.”

King took the loss for Latrobe, scattering seven hits while allowing five earned runs in four innings.

Miller picked up the win for Peters Township, allowing three earned runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings while striking out five. Logan Pfeuffer picked up the save.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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