Thomas Jefferson baseball team rallies past Latrobe for Class 5A win

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 | 10:01 PM

Thomas Jefferson called on McClain Flinn to douse an early fire Tuesday.

When the smoke settled, Flinn and the Jaguars baseball team had seized a first-round WPIAL Class 5A playoff victory, rallying from a six-run deficit to beat Latrobe, 14-7, at Hempfield.

“This team has been grinding all year,” Thomas Jefferson coach Tim Vickers said.

Flinn, who entered the game in the second inning in relief of Brady Haberman, allowed four hits and one run over the final 513 innings and also had three RBIs to lead No. 12 seed Thomas Jefferson. TJ advances to the quarterfinals to play No. 13 Chartiers Valley on Thursday at a site and time to be determined.

No. 5 Latrobe committed three errors, two in a two-run Thomas Jefferson fourth that saw the Jaguars take the lead for good, 8-6.

Thomas Jefferson (14-6) scored in each of the final five innings after falling behind 6-0 in the second.

“We talk about the ability to slow things down,” Vickers said. “One pitch at a time. Obviously, that’s a cliche, but we talk about it all the time. We speak about winning the inning. McClain Flinn came in, got us out of a jam and it took off from there.”

Angelo Volomino had three hits and three RBIs, and Jaxson Szarmach also had three hits for Thomas Jefferson, which scored six runs with two outs in the third inning against Latrobe starter Chase Sickenberger to tie the score 6-6.

“When we got them down, we couldn’t put them away,” Latrobe coach Matt Basciano said. “They came up with the plays and were able to cash in when they had to. We hit the ball hard, but just couldn’t keep up.”

Thomas Jefferson, which outhit Latrobe 13-10, also took advantage of nine walks and three hit batsmen to overwhelm the Wildcats. Latrobe scored once in the first and five times in the second against Haberman.

But Flinn slammed the door after allowing Logan Bradish’s two-run single that capped Latrobe’s five-run uprising in the second.

“I just kind of had a feeling that I’d be ready to go whenever they needed me,” he said. “I’m pretty satisfied with how things played out because this is the playoffs. I’m proud of my guys. They really stepped up and took over this game.”

Flinn scattered four hits over the final 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked three.

Bradish and Vinny Amatucci led Latrobe (12-8) with three hits apiece. Bradish had three RBIs for the Wildcats, whose five-run second included a pair of two-run singles by Bradish and Logan Short.

“We knew TJ would be a tough, scrappy team,” Basciano said. “Our kids fought the whole way and played for a win until the last out. I’m proud of them.”

After Thomas Jefferson scored another run in the fifth to increase its lead to 9-6, Latrobe made it 9-7 in the bottom of the inning when Jacob Albaugh tripled and scored on an error.

But the Wildcats couldn’t come back as Thomas Jefferson tacked on four runs in the sixth, highlighted by Flinn’s second RBI double of the game, and one more in the seventh.

“We swung the bats well all last week, and Flinn was outstanding,” Vickers said. “He’s always ramped up and always wants the ball. That’s what he’s all about.”

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