Seneca Valley tops Central Catholic to clinch playoff berth

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 | 10:34 PM

Eric Semega has coached a lot of baseball in his nearly two decades at Seneca Valley, but he has never experienced what he went through this week.

“I do not think we’ve ever played three section games back-to-back-to-back where they all meant something, and to see how we played in each one of those games where it was playoff caliber baseball,” he said.

After beating Butler and losing to Pine-Richland in 8 innings, Seneca Valley (5-5, 11-6) completed a busy final week of the regular season Wednesday with a 3-2 win at home over Central Catholic (3-7, 10-8).

Like in true postseason form, the Raiders advance and will be the third-place team out of Section 1-6A when the brackets are unveiled Friday at noon on Trib HSSN.

The Seneca Valley victory also eliminated Central Catholic. A year after winning the section crown, the Vikings finished in fifth place.

The Raiders broke open a scoreless game in the fourth inning. After back-to-back walks to seniors Cory Greiner and Cam Vozel and a sacrifice bunt, Josh McLean and Drew Robertson delivered consecutive run-scoring singles off Central Catholic starter Conor Deasy.

Greiner and Vozel combined for a big insurance run in the fifth inning. Greiner walked with two outs, stole second, continued to third on an errant throw and scored on an infield single by Vozel.

That run turned out to be huge when the Vikings finally got to Greiner in the top of the sixth inning.

Joe Olsavsky was hit by a pitch and went to third on a Will Ray double. Both scored on a Brandon Gelpi double. Gelpi was left stranded at second, though, after Greiner induced three straight fly outs.

“He is definitely a competitor out there,” Semega said. “He did everything he needed to do to win this for us. There were three shots hard in a row and then he gets us out of it.”

Greiner allowed two runs on only four hits with two walks and two strikeouts to raise his record to 5-3.

Vozel and McLean each had two of the Raiders’ five hits.

“I’ve always been a believer that good pitching beats good hitting,” Semega said. “I’ve seen a lot of other pitchers in the other sections; I feel this is one year that the pitching everywhere in 6A is very good compared to years past.”

The postseason berth is Seneca Valley’s first since 2015. Greiner and his fellow seniors are ready to taste playoff baseball.

“It’s a great experience,” he said. “We always thought we were going, but this year we finally did it. It’s anybody’s game now, so I think we’ll do fine.”

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