Pratt, Carmichaels blank Jeannette in Class 2A opening round
Thursday, May 16, 2019 | 8:00 PM
Down by one and its season on the line, Jeannette had a runner at third with nobody out in the top of the seventh inning.
Knowing they were locked in a pure pitcher’s duel where defense was exceptional and offense was hard to come by, the Jayhawks had to react quickly to get another spin at the wheel against Carmichaels. Is was their best chance.
But No. 11 seed Jeannette, restricted at the plate all afternoon by Carmichaels’ sophomore ace pitcher Gavin Pratt, couldn’t capitalize and lost 1-0 to the sixth-seeded Mighty Mikes in a WPIAL Class 2A first-round playoff game Thursday at Seton Hill.
Senior Drake Petrillo, who gave the Jayhawks (9-8) a glimmer of hope with a leadoff triple in the final frame, was thrown out at home by Mikes’ freshman shortstop Drake Long, who fielded Zander Malik’s grounder and promptly fired to the plate.
“It was a bang-bang play,” Jayhawks coach Marcus Clarkson said. “In hindsight, maybe you don’t send him there. But we needed to make something happen.”
Catcher Stush Ferek applied a high tag but still got Petrillo, who had some anger in his swing after having a few words with the home plate umpire. He ripped a shot to the gap in right-center and from there it was a full-out sprint to third.
“Drake plays with a lot of emotion,” Clarkson said. “The bottom line is we needed to hit the ball better. Two hits isn’t going to get it done. Their kid pitched well but we hit a couple balls hard. We just couldn’t get a rally started.”
Pratt, who moved to 6-0 with a complete-game two-hitter, struck out two of the next three batters after Jeannette put runners at first and second, to seal the Mikes’ first win in the playoffs since 2015.
The teams combined for seven, 1-2-3 innings and four hits in the crisply played opener.
Carmichaels (16-2) moves into the quarterfinals to play No. 3 Neshannock (17-2).
“The worst we wanted to come out of that inning was a tie game,” Mikes coach Rich Krause said of a tense seventh. “Drake (Long) made a heads-up play there; I was a little surprised he went home. We played up because our motto on defense is attack, attack, attack.
“We have a young team, a lot of freshmen and sophomores, and I wasn’t sure how they would adjust to the big stage.”
Pratt, whose fastball has been clocked at 86 mph, struck out seven and only edged opposing hurler Malik because of a fielder’s choice RBI by first baseman Nick Ricco in the fifth. Malik also allowed two hits in front of a steady defense.
The Mikes won by a Hair.
Ferek was hit by a pitch to start the home half of the fifth and was replaced by Jake Hair. Zach Gamble bunted Hair to second and the pinch-runner went to third on a wild pitch.
Ricco’s chopper was gloved by shortstop Michael McCabe, who threw to first, and Hair scored to finally disrupt a scoreless game.
“He smoked that ball to the hole,” Krause said. “As soon as the shortstop makes that first step, we go.”
The Mikes turned a 6-4-3 double play in the fourth. Pratt threw 91 pitches, just 48 through four.
“I am pretty comfortable with my guys behind me,” Pratt said. “We kept our nerves down, and knew we would be OK if we squealed out a run.”
Small-ball nearly led to an insurance run for the Mikes in the sixth, but Jeannette cut the tires on that rally with an inning-ending double play — center fielder Seth Howard snagged a fly ball and fired to second.
The offensive energy, though, did not match that of the defense.
Clarkson anticipated a tight game from the Mikes, who won back-to-back section titles.
“We knew they had some pitching, and Zander had been pitching pretty well,” Clarkson said. “It was a great playoff atmosphere. We expected a hard-fought, close game. We lost 1-0 to a pretty good 15-2 team.”
Dylan Wilson had both hits for the Mikes.
Jeannette, a WPIAL champion two years ago and a semifinalist last year, will lose a talented and successful senior group.
“It’s tough to see it come to an end for this senior class,” Clarkson said. “They can go out with their heads held high. They’ve been in a lot of big games, a lot of wins. They have a ring.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .