Serra Catholic avenges WPIAL loss to Seton LaSalle, earns 4th trip to PIAA finals
By: Don Rebel
Tuesday, June 11, 2019 | 7:23 PM
The game began with Mark Black’s haymaker on the first pitch and ended with Pat Brennan’s web gem on the last as Serra Catholic defeated Seton LaSalle, 4-3, Tuesday in a PIAA Class 2A semifinal at West Mifflin.
The win avenged Serra’s 11-2 loss to Seton in the WPIAL championship and lifted the Eagles into the state finals for the fourth time in school history.
Serra Catholic (23-2) faces District 12’s Devon Prep (11-13) at Penn State’s Medlar Field at 4:30 p.m., Friday.
“Here we are going to my fourth state championship in my tenure,” said Serra Catholic coach Brian Dzurenda, now in his 20th season. “I can’t even believe with four freshman and three sophomores we are headed there. It’s unbelievable to me.”
What stunned WPIAL champion Seton LaSalle (21-3) was how the game began with a bang.
On the game’s first pitch, Black took freshman left-hander Sam Gergiana deep to right-center for his 14th home run and an early Eagles lead.
Black hasn’t had a chance to swing much in the district and state playoffs. Serra Catholic’s junior catcher had been walked intentionally 16 times in six playoff games coming into the PIAA semifinals.
“I was curious the whole week to see if they were going to pitch to me when I’m in the leadoff spot,” Black said. “They did and I just took advantage of it, got a fastball and hit it.”
Dzurenda wasn’t expecting Black to get a chance to hit in the first inning but the outcome was no shock.
“I’m not surprised at all he hit a home run in that situation, he’s done it all year,” Dzurenda said. “We were anticipating an intentional walk to start the game.”
The loss ended a 16-game win streak for Seton LaSalle (21-3), which was seeking its first state finals appearance in team history.
Seton loaded the bases in the bottom of the first but did not score. In all, the Rebels stranded 11 runners.
When the Rebels loaded the bases again in the second inning, they plated two runs to take the lead on a fielder’s choice by senior Nick Vari and a sacrifice fly by sophomore Cam Colwell. Both runs were unearned after a bunt was botched by Brennan, Serra’s starting pitcher.
The Rebels threatened again in the third but stranded two more runners and came away empty.
Brennan was lifted after a one-out single in the fourth. Despite his struggles with three hits and four walks, he left with the score tied 2-2.
“He definitely made the big pitches when he had to,” said Dzurenda of Brennan. “This was only Pat’s second start of the year. They had seen everybody else and we came in with a plan that if we can get through three innings, we thought Alex could give us the final four.”
Junior Alex Glumac did just that, pitching 3 2/3 innings and giving up one run on three hits to get the win.
Serra tied the game on a double steal in the fourth and took the lead for good in the fifth when Jayden Mertz was hit by a pitch and Black was intentionally walked for the third time. After a sacrifice bunt by Glumac and another intentional walk of Brennan, freshman Nico Eremic singled and sophomore Dom DeMoss hit a sacrifice fly to put Serra up 4-2.
Brett Wagner’s sacrifice fly scored Daniel Boehme in the bottom of the fifth to make it 4-3.
The Rebels had two baserunners reach in the sixth on two more Brennan errors but they came up empty.
Then in the seventh with runners at first and third with one out, Glumac got a big strike out and then it was redemption time for Brennan. After committing three errors, he made an over-the-shoulder catch of a flair in shallow center field to save the game for the Eagles.
Serra lost in the finals in 2009 and 2010 before winning state gold by beating York Central Catholic in 2011.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.