Serra Catholic tops Avonworth, reaches WPIAL semifinals for 5th straight season

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Monday, May 20, 2019 | 11:09 PM


Serra Catholic used a combination of small ball and long ball to beat Avonworth, 7-2, in a WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinal baseball game Monday at Upper St. Clair.

The win lifted the Eagles into the WPIAL semifinals for a fifth straight season.

Sophomore Jayden Mertz hit a one-out triple for Serra in the third inning of a scoreless game. Then after a strikeout, up to the plate came Eagles catcher Mark Black, one of the top hitters in the district.

Avonworth decided to pitch to him with first base open, and Black made the Antelopes pay with a long two-run homer to deep left-center field.

“I was very surprised with an open base they pitched to Mark,” Serra Catholic coach Brian Dzurenda said. “It’s his 12th home run of the year, and he’s just seeing the ball really well.”

While the home run put Serra ahead, a five-run fourth inning put the Eagles in control.

The bunt turned into a deadly weapon when in a span of five hitters, three Eagles laid down bunts that led to an error and a successful squeeze bunt single.

“I thought our small ball game did really well for us today,” Dzurenda said. “We bunted the ball tremendously well. When their pitcher came off the mound and slipped on the one bunt, I think that led to bigger and better things.”

One of those better things came when a perfect squeeze bunt by Dom Puzzanchera scored the Eagles’ fourth run after the third run scored on a wild pitch.

After bunting for a couple of runs, senior Pat Brennan drove in two more with a triple. Brennan scored the final run of the big inning on the third hit of the day by Alex Glumac.

The game’s final run came on the final scholastic at bat for Avonworth senior Turner Grau, who homered in the seventh inning.

Serra starter Logan Exler pitched three scoreless innings, allowing three hits and one walk. His pitch count was 48, two shy of the limit for one day’s rest. He is eligible to pitch again if needed Wednesday in the semifinals.

“I knew Exler would do fantastic as long as he threw strikes, and that’s exactly what he did,” Black said. “Curveball looked great today, too.”

Glumac pitched the final four innings, giving up two runs on six hits.

“Alex did phenomenal,” Black said. “He pitched to contact and let our fielders make plays and we did. Team victory.”

Check out an archived video stream broadcast of this game on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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