Serra Catholic beats Seton LaSalle to avenge loss in WPIAL playoffs

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Thursday, June 10, 2021 | 10:44 PM


Not rain, not lightning, not the Rebels. Nothing was going to stop Serra Catholic from advancing to the PIAA Class 2A semifinals.

The Eagles (21-4) avenged a 12-0 WPIAL semifinal loss to Seton LaSalle with a 4-1 victory over the Rebels at Latrobe on Thursday.

“I think that (loss) had to happen in order for this game to happen today,” Serra coach Brian Dzurenda said of the walk- and error-filled WPIAL final four matchup. “I think they came in just expecting to roll over us, thinking, ‘They can’t hit; they can’t stop us,’ and Zach Karp was just being Zach Karp, spinning curveballs, changing speeds. His fastball had a little more jump than normal today.”

Karp, the lefthander, threw a complete game of three-hit ball and his defense had his back. Karp allowed just six baserunners, three on walks and the others on hits, but unlike the previous meeting with Seton LaSalle, the defense was perfect.

“I just kept throwing strikes across the plate, getting them to put it in play and let our fielders make plays,” said the sophomore southpaw.

“I got real emotional after they beat us 12-0 because I love this game and I love Serra. I thought we rolled over and didn’t give any resistance when it was 12-0 and that really, really, really upset me,” Dzurenda said.

“I got off the bus after that game and I cried. I cried because there should be more pride than this. Winning today, once again I got real emotional, but it was like, they responded to what happened back then. It meant a lot to me that we bounced back. Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, that was the game we had circled on the calendar. More of a ‘they don’t respect us’ type of thing. We wanted to make them respect us. I think we did all the little things right today. It meant a lot to our program.”

The win came despite an hour-plus delay due to lightning in the area and competing through steady rain off and on throughout the course of the contest, particularly before the game came to a halt in the top of the fourth.

One team weathered the literal storm better than the other.

After taking a 1-0 lead in the first thanks to an RBI double by junior catcher Nico Eremic, the Eagles allowed just three baserunners in the first three innings, all in the second. One reached on an error and two on walks, but an inning-ending double-play turned by Matt Bisceglia to Dom DeMoss eliminated the bases-loaded threat.

Lightning was spotted during the first at-bat of the top of the fourth, sending the teams indoors until the game resumed at 4 p.m.

“It was pretty hard to grip the ball. You had to just bear down to be able to get it across the plate,” said Karp.

Eremic’s second at-bat of the game was the one interrupted by the delay, but resumed with a bang. He singled and Jordan Mastalerz took over on the basepaths as a courtesy runner. With Mastalerz at third and Max Rocco at second, Bisceglia hit an RBI single that scored Mastalerz to make it a 2-0 game.

Rocco scored from third on a wild pitch before Ethan Coddington brought in Bisceglia with an RBI single, and just like that, it was 4-0 Serra Catholic.

In the bottom of the fourth, Seton LaSalle’s Gio Lonero reached on a walk before Evan Henke drove him in with an RBI single to make it a 4-1 game.

The Eagles allowed just one baserunner over the final three innings. Brian Reed, who moved from first base to the mound in relief of Sam Georgiana, earned the third hit of the game in the bottom of the fifth and moved his way around the bags but was stopped 90 feet from home after Karp and the Eagles outfield combined to close out the inning.

Karp surrendered just three hits, using only three pitches to deal the knockout blow to the Rebels in the final inning and close out the 4-1 win.

“I had so much fun. It just feels awesome,” Karp said with a smile after the game.

“Just unbelievable composure. Every kid made the routine plays out there, every one of them,” said Dzurenda.

“We played our brand and culture of baseball today, small-ball, moving guys over, nothing special,” said Bisceglia.

Someday, the Eagles will look back and think it was pretty special. But for now, there’s still work to be done. Serra Catholic will face WPIAL champion Shenango in the PIAA semifinals Monday to determine with a spot in the state finals on the line.

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