Strong defensive effort guides Bethel Park baseball past Canon-McMillan
By: Don Rebel
Monday, April 16, 2018 | 9:21 PM
Three batters into their baseball game for the top spot in Section 3-6A, Bethel Park trailed Canon-McMillan, 2-0.
Then, the Black Hawks got defensive and surged to a 6-3 triumph over the No. 5-ranked Big Macs Monday afternoon at frigid Wild Things Park in Washington.
The win, coupled with Mt. Lebanon's 2-1 victory over Peters Township, broke a three-way tie for first place in the section.
Now, Bethel Park (4-3, 4-1) and Mt. Lebanon (5-5, 4-1) are in first place with Canon-McMillan (6-3, 3-2) and Upper St. Clair (9-2, 3-2) right behind.
Canon-McMillan's Nick Serafino led off the bottom of the first with a single and, after being sacrificed to second, scored on Ian Hess' two-run shot inside the left-field foul pole.
Bethel Park got one of those runs back and struck a theme in the top of the second when Adam Malecki reached on a Cam Walker error, stole second and scored on a two-out double by Korey Patterson. It was the first of three Canon-McMillan errors and three unearned runs allowed by Zach Rohaley.
The score remained 2-1 Big Macs until the Black Hawks tied it in the fifth when Justin Meis doubled and scored on a triple by Sean McGowan.
The next inning, Bethel Park took the lead for good on another Canon-McMillan defensive miscue. With one out, Malecki singled and Antonio Fontana walked. Rohaley got Patterson to hit a comebacker to the mound, but the senior hurler one-hopped his throw to second base, and it ended up in center field, allowing Malecki to score and Fontana and Patterson to advance to second and third. Fontana then scored on Meis' sac fly.
Canon-McMillan scored an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth but left the bases loaded.
Bethel Park then scored a pair of insurance runs in the seventh off reliever Brandon Kline on Kevin Kogler's two-run double that scored McGowan and Ben Barnot.
After a shaky start, senior Corey Fischer settled in and pitched a solid 5 2⁄3 innings, allowing two earned runs and six hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
“I'm a big placement guy because I don't throw very hard,” Fischer said. “It is easy to pitch with good defense behind you.”
“He did a great job after that big hit,” Bethel Park coach Tony Fisher added. “To be honest, he made a good pitch on the home run, but (Hess) did a great job turning on it.”
Fisher acknowledged that defense, on a day where the game time temperature was 41 degrees and strong winds made it feel a lot colder, was the key to his team's big win.
“Believe it or not, this may have been our best defensive game of the season,” he said.
Meis pitched the final 1 1⁄3 innings to pick up the save.
Rohaley took the loss for the Big Macs after allowing four runs, one earned, over six innings, yielding seven hits with a walk and eight strikeouts.
Don Rebel is a TribLive High School Sports Network broadcaster and staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.