Shenango stuns Seton LaSalle for 1st WPIAL baseball title

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Wednesday, June 2, 2021 | 3:53 PM


Shenango senior Gabe Yanssens accused Seton LaSalle players of talking too much smack on social media before Wednesday’s WPIAL Class 2A baseball championship game.

He figured the best way to shut them up was to beat them, and that’s what Yanssens did.

His two-run, two-out single in the top of the sixth inning helped Shenango defeat defending 2019 champion Seton LaSalle, 2-1, at Wild Things Park in Washington.

He, along with senior pitcher Shane Cato and his teammates, helped Shenango claim its first WPIAL baseball title.

“They talk too much,” Yanssens said. “They do it to everyone. It lit a fire under us.”

Shenango coach Larry Kelly, in his first season, said Yanssens is probably one of the better two-out hitters in the WPIAL.

“This isn’t the first time that Gabe stepped up and delivered a big hit for us,” Kelly said. “I knew he’d come through. When he stepped to the plate, I told him, ‘It’s your time. I wouldn’t rather want anybody else in the lineup up except you right now.’”

The second-seeded Wildcats (20-2) also used a strong pitching performance from Cato, who limited Seton LaSalle to five hits and one run.

“I pitched backwards and kept them off balance,” Cato said. “I threw my breaking stuff early in the count. I knew it was going to be a close game.

“I’m in awe right now. I can’t speak. It’s so awesome that we won and we’re bringing one back to Shenango.”

Both teams’ offenses came in with gaudy stats, but Cato and Seton LaSalle starter Sam Georgiana did a good job silencing them until the sixth inning.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be a slugfest,” Kelly said. “Their pitcher was way too good. The kid has pedigree, he’s 7-0, and he strikes out three batters to every one he walks.

“But Shane Cato is a different breed of cat. He is a special kid. The bigger the game gets, the better he pitches.”

Shenango broke through in the top of the sixth inning when senior Ethan Bintrim walked with one out, and Cato singled to left to move him to second.

Both runners moved up a base on a ground out and scored on Yanssens’ single to center.

Seton LaSalle (21-3) got a run back in the bottom of the inning when shortstop Brian Vogel Jr. tripled and scored on a ground out by Georgiana.

Cato got help from Yanssens in the first inning after the first two Seton LaSalle batters reached base. Yanssens snagged a live drive by Brett Wagner to quell a scoring opportunity.

He then helped himself in the second inning when he dove and caught a bunt. He then flipped the ball to first base to complete a double play.

“We got unlucky in the first inning when Brett smoked one with no one out and the outfielder fell and still made the catch,” Seton LaSalle coach Mike Wagner said. “Kudos to him. If that ball gets down, that’s at least two runs and Brett’s at third with no one out. It changed the whole dynamic of the game.”

Shenango stranded two runners in the second and sixth innings.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Shenango’s Mike Locastro reached second on a single and error.

But Cato fanned the next two batters and induced Cam Colwell, on a 1-2 pitch, to fly out to right fielder Braeden D’Angelo.

“I wasn’t worried when they got the runner on second,” Cato said. “They had the bottom of the order up. I just executed my pitches.”

Wagner was a little shocked him team didn’t score more runs. But he credited Cato’s performance as the reason why.

“That’s what happens. Good pitching can shut down good hitting any day,” Wagner said. “We just didn’t get it done.”

Shenango will play Mt. Union, which defeated Kane 9-0, in the PIAA playoffs June 7. Seton LaSalle will face District 10 championship Sharpsville.

Watch an archived video stream of this game on Trib HSSN.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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