Riverside Rallies to Defeat Salisbury Twp: Win 3rd PIAA Class AA Baseball Crown

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Friday, June 17, 2011 | 12:00 AM


The Riverside Panthers got another big hit from Ryan Finnegan to claim their third PIAA title with a 5-2 win over the Salisbury Township Falconsin the Class AA title game at Medlar Field. Finnegan's three run inside the park homer rallied Riverside from a 2-1 deficit in the fifth. Nick Pollio pitched into the seventh inning to pick up his fourth win of the season allowing just two hits striking out five and shutting down fourteen consecutive batters from the second thru seventh innings.

It was not a good start for Pollio as the Falcons scored two runs in the bottom of the first after loading the bases Pollio thought he pitched out of the jam but a high fly ball to shallow left center field off the bat of Ryan Utsch fell between Kenny Wiley and Reese Howells bringing home two runs. Pollio walked the bases loaded with two outs in the second but got Zach Harper to line out to third baseman Jake Thellman to end the inning.

The Panthers loaded the bases after two outs in the fourth but Thellman struck out to end the inning. Riverside took the lead in the fifth Sean Strosnider and Pollio singled to lead off the inning. After two outs Wiley reached on an infield single that scored Strosnider. The big play of the game came on the next batter as Finnegan hit a first pitch fast ball to deep center field that Mike Miller had in his glove for a second but lost his balance on the edge of the warning track the ball caromed away from Miller allowing Finnegan to round the bases for his ninth homer of the season and a 4-2 Riverside lead.

Pollio calmed down after the second inning after walking five and hitting a batter. The senior lefty sat down the side in the third fourth and fifth innings with only one ball leaving the infield. Coach Dan Oliastro said Pollio made the necessary adjustments.

Riverside had a change to add to the lead in the bottom of the sixth Rob Hardy and Thellman both singled. Strosnider bunted the runners up ninety feet. With the infield in Pollio hit a two-hopper to short Tyler Tocci's throw home got Hardy at the plate. Dylan Jones came on to run for Pollio and executed a delayed double steal that allowed Thellman to score and give the Panthers a three run cushion heading to the bottom of the sixth.

The Panthers got a great defensive play to end the sixth inning a grounder hit by Ramon Deeb clicked off the glove of Pollio Finnegan was able to charge the ball on the opposite side of the infield and throw out Deeb by half a step.

In the seventh Zach Seitz grounded out to short for the first out Miller singled to right on a 2-1 pitch in front of a diving Strosnider. That ended a streak of 14 straight retired for Pollio. Pollio walked Tocci on four pitches sending Dan Oliastro to the mound to make a pitching change. Finnegan came on and got Justin Aungst to pop out to shallow center field. Colby Kulig drew a walk to load the bases bringing Zac Harper to the plate as the winning run. But Harper grounded out to Thellman to end the game and give Riverside the gold.

Pollio said his curveball was working today but he wasn't hitting his spots early he ended up going 6.1 innings allowing two runs on a pair of hits. Pollio missed the second half of the regular season after being hit with a line drive in a game against Ellwood City. Finnegan picked up another save. When asked what his secret was in coming in relief he said he just tries to throw strikes.

For Riverside who needed a win against Ellwood City to make the playoffs it was their ninth straight win they finish at 20–5. The Panthers also won state gold in 2005 and 2006. Wiley went 2 for 4 at the plate with a rbi Tyler Falk was 2-3 Strosnider was 2-2.

The District 11 champion Falcons end the season at 20-7. Utsch was 1-3 and drove in both runs. Miller had the other hit in the seventh.

Riverside Panthers : 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 4 – 1 – 0 = 5-10-0
Salisbury Township Falcons : 2 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 = 2-2-1

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