Seton LaSalle erupts for 6-run 6th inning to surge past Riverview in Class 2A

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Monday, May 22, 2023 | 5:48 PM


Seton LaSalle collected four hits through five innings against Riverview starting pitcher Ben Hower in a Class 2A quarterfinal baseball playoff game Monday afternoon at Gateway.

The No. 2 Rebels then erupted for six runs on five hits in the sixth inning off of Hower and Raiders reliever Enzo Lio.

The outburst turned a three-run deficit into a three-run lead. Seton LaSalle then shut the door on No. 10 Riverview in the seventh to finish off a 6-3 victory.

“It is the expectation that we stay within our game plan,” Seton LaSalle coach Brad Bestic said. “It’s next man up, no matter where we are in the lineup. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they gave. There was no panic. We expected to be able to put ourselves in a position to come back. That is a testament to how strong-minded they are.”

Seton LaSalle, which received a bye into the quarterfinals, played its first game in 11 days. The Rebels improved to 15-4 and are guaranteed at least two more games: a semifinal contest Tuesday at Gateway and then the WPIAL title game or a consolation matchup for a trip to states.

“With a game like this, they want to continue playing with all the momentum and energy they have,” said Bestic, who will guide his players into Tuesday’s 6:30 p.m. game against No. 3 New Brighton.

“Coming right back in about 24 hours is huge for us to stay up emotionally. Hopefully, we’re playing a couple more games after this.”

Seton got the sixth-inning rally started with back-to-back singles from catcher Brian Reed and designated hitter Cole Starrett.

Third baseman Mark Weber then drew a walk to load the bases.

With 77 pitches thrown, Hower exited the game and gave way to Lio, the pitching hero of Riverview’s first-round victory over No. 7 Charleroi last Thursday at Gateway.

Lio struck out second baseman Michael Todd. But first baseman Aiden McKenzie delivered for the Rebels. His two-run single drew Seton LaSalle to within one at 3-2.

Left fielder Aric White’s infield single re-loaded the bases for senior No. 9 hitter Cory Meyers.

The right fielder followed McKenzie’s lead and smacked a triple to the wall, which plated all three runners to give the Rebels a 5-3 lead.

“I just wanted to come up and make contact,” Meyers said. “I hit the ball solid into the gap and just kept running. I was just so excited to be able to put my team on top.

“We were all just really excited to get out there and get the playoffs going. There were some tough innings early on, but then we got it going.”

Hower’s five-plus innings of work yielded six strikeouts and three walks in addition to six hits surrendered.

“I thought Ben could finish it out, but they were able to catch up to him,” Riverview coach Bill Gras said. “He pitched well. Seton is a really good hitting team.”

Nate Georgiana started for the Rebels and worked into the sixth.

With no outs and Raiders second baseman Jack Loughren on with a leadoff single, DiMaggio LoNero came on for Seton and retired the next three Riverview batters.

In the seventh, with the lead, LoNero and Reed combined to finish off the Raiders. LoNero issued a two-out walk before Reed came on to induce a fielder’s choice groundout for the save.

Georgiana gave up 10 Riverview hits and walked four. Of the three Raiders runs, one was earned.

Riverview had its chances early. The Raiders collected five hits and drew the four walks off of Georgiana through four innings, but every runner was left stranded.

Things started to brighten up for Riverview in the top of the fifth as it broke through for its three runs.

Lio, who finished 2 for 4, doubled to lead off the inning.

Left fielder Johnny Bertucci followed with a single to center. The relay throw to home was on the money, and Lio, who rounded third and was headed for home, was in a fix about 15 feet from home plate.

Seeing the catcher, Reed, had the ball, Lio stopped in his tracks.

Reed pivoted to be in position to make the tag, but he dropped the ball. That allowed Lio to score the game’s first run.

Bertucci ended up on second base, and, with one out, designated hitter John Patsey doubled him home to make it 2-0.

Catcher Aidan Draxinger reached on an infield single, and Patsey moved to third to set up center fielder Rece Stempfer’s sacrifice fly to right for a 3-0 advantage.

“We played well enough to win the game,” Gras said. “We had 10 hits. We couldn’t get some runs in early with some good chances. We just couldn’t get that big hit. That was frustrating. I think (Seton) was the same way until their big inning. It was one inning for us and one inning for them. But, unfortunately, theirs was more than ours.”

Riverview finished its season at 10-8.

“I am proud of them,” Gras said. “They did an awesome job this year. Last week’s playoff (win) against Charleroi, they stepped up, and they stepped up today, too. We just had that one bad inning. That’s playoff baseball.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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