Peters Township escapes Penn-Trafford upset bid with walk-off single

Thursday, May 19, 2022 | 8:38 PM

Wes Parker said he didn’t pay too much attention to Penn-Trafford reliever Evan Del Signore as he was warming up with the winning run on third.

That’s because he already had his mind set on what he was going to do when he stepped into the batter’s box.

“I knew I was going to get three strikes to play with, so if he wasted one, I’d still have two more. I was swinging no matter what,” Parker said.

Sure enough, Parker swung at the first pitch and hit it up the middle for a walk-off single in a 6-5 victory for top-seeded Peters Township, capping a wild seventh inning in a WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinal Thursday at West Mifflin.

The Indians (20-1) advanced to play Section 4 rival Thomas Jefferson in the semifinals Monday and clinched a berth in the PIAA tournament.

With Kennywood only a few blocks away, a roller coaster of events took place in the seventh inning.

Before his walk-off hit, Parker, a Toledo recruit, surrendered two runs in the top of the seventh while trying to nail down a save.

Dylan Grabowski, who homered to lift Penn-Trafford past Hampton in the first round, singled home Jacob Otto and Brady Lane to give the Warriors a 5-4 lead.

“In the regular season, I was kind of untouched, so it was new to get hit around like that,” Parker said. “Getting three straight strikeouts to end the inning, I knew would fire the boys up. Then I knew we had Jack Kail, Sam Miller and myself due up. That’s three Division I players. That put me in a good spot.”

Kail led off the seventh with a double and was driven in by a double from Miller.

Miller moved to third on an errant throw, setting up Parker for the walk-off single.

Penn-Trafford starter Nolan Marasti hit the 100-pitch limit on Miller’s double, forcing a move to the bullpen. He started the inning with 93 pitches.

“When we took the lead, the goal was for Marasti to get the first out and then go to my next guy, Del Signore,” Penn-Trafford coach Dan Miller said. “It was just timely hitting on their part, and I give them credit for that.”

The Warriors scored two runs on three Peters Township errors in the top of the first to take an early lead and led 3-1 until Bryce Thompson cracked a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. All three runs were unearned because of an error with two outs.

It’s now two consecutive seasons Penn-Trafford nearly pulled off an upset in the quarterfinals. Last year, the Warriors had West Allegheny on the ropes before falling 7-6 in walk-off fashion.

“After that loss last year, our goal was to get this team over that hump into the semifinals and take our chances after that,” Miller said. “We were close. I thought this was a great opportunity for us to get there.”

Marasti pitched six-plus and only allowed three runs. He finished with three strikeouts. Lane had an RBI single in the fourth. Jack Lutte plated a run with a double in the bottom of the fourth.

Penn-Trafford finished 14-7. The Warriors graduate only two seniors, Owen Rain and Matt Lichota, and return eight players who started Thursday’s game.

“I’m already excited about next year,” Miller said. “We have pretty much have the entire roster back.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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