Pine-Richland baseball team builds confidence after sweeping Seneca Valley

Saturday, April 23, 2022 | 9:01 AM

Pine-Richland baseball has a bunch of underclassmen in the lineup, but the Rams also have a lot of fight.

Proof of their resilience was on display in a big sweep of Seneca Valley April 12 and 13.

It’s not just that they won. It’s how they did it.

They earned a tight 10-7 win in Game 1 and rallied to score seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to steal Game 2, 11-10.

The victories have boosted the confidence level for the Rams.

“I think that it gives you hope and makes you believe,” veteran Pine-Richland baseball coach Kurt Wolfe said of the sweep. “We knew Seneca Valley was ranked third when we played them and that they had a very good team with very good arms. It shows them that we can compete with these teams even though we are a little bit younger and inexperienced. It does a lot for them in the mental part of the game for the rest of section play.”

In Game 1, the Rams trailed 5-3 after four innings, but scored three runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth, while facing Seneca Valley ace and Auburn commit Owen Yarussi.

The Rams (4-6, 3-2 Section 1-6A) got key hits throughout the lineup.

There were multi-hit efforts from junior Joey Perry and senior Tyler Armstrong. Tommy Zimmerman, a sophomore, doubled and drove in three runs. Jacob McGuire, a junior, doubled and plated a pair of runs. Juniors Owen Henne and Cole Nelson doubled, and freshman Anthony Mengine singled and scored twice.

In Game 2, the Rams were down 10-4 before their outburst in the seventh.

“I had never been in a comeback like that at (the high school level),” Wolfe said. “That’s a lot of runs to be scoring in one inning, that’s for sure.”

The Rams worked several walks in the inning, and the big hit came off the bat of Armstrong, who doubled into the right-center gap to cut the deficit to 10-9. A couple batters later, Zimmerman was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, which scored the winning run.

Prior to the rally, Pine-Richland drove up the pitch count on Raiders starter Owen Malak up, and he had to exit after five innings. Malak had pitched a complete game shutout in a 1-0 win over North Allegheny the week prior.

“I think the biggest thing was getting Malak out of the game,” Wolfe said. “That really helped us. They used three pitchers the day before, so they couldn’t come back to a couple of those guys. They had to throw some younger guys and I don’t care who you are, that’s a tough situation to come into, because all the momentum was on our side. It was nice that we were able to somehow get guys on base and ultimately win it.”

Armstrong had two hits and three RBIs in Game 2. Joseph Connell, a senior, had a single and a pair of RBIs. Nelson and Mengine added a single and an RBI each.

Pine-Richland split a series with Central Catholic to start the Section 1-6A season. The Rams dropped Game 1 to section leader Butler, 7-2, on April 20 and Game 2 was scheduled for April 21.

Two-game series with Allderdice and North Allegheny the next two weeks complete section play.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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