Top-seeded Vincentian Academy claims 1st WPIAL baseball crown

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 | 5:54 PM

There's nothing like an early cushion while pitching in your school's first WPIAL baseball title game.

Vincentian Academy senior Stephen Turzai was staked to a three-run lead after one inning and a five-run advantage after two.

Turzai took it from there, limiting Union to one run and scattering six hits over 5 13 innings as Vincentian defeated the Scotties, 6-1, to win the Class A title at Washington's Wild Things Park.

“We got on the board first and never looked back,” Turzai said. “The early lead helped me a lot, mentally, and I'm sure it helped the whole team.”

“We were really happy to get those runs in the first inning,” Vincentian coach Brad Bestic said. “Union's such a resilient group. This being the third time we've played them, we know we had to get some runs early and maintain that lead. I'm just so happy for our guys.”

The Royals (16-4) will take on District 6 champion Homer Center on Monday in the PIAA tournament opener at a site and time to be determined.

The Scotties (14-4) will play either North Clarion or Jamestown Monday in PIAA play.

Vincentian took advantage of wildness from Union starter Matt Costello in the first inning. The senior righthander, who entered the game with a 4-1 record and a 0.83 ERA, walked four, gave up a single and hit a batter as the Royals batted around.

“We came out a little flat,” Scotties coach Bill Sanders said. “We were ready, but I'll take full responsibility for us coming out flat. First appearance in school history, super proud to be here, we expected a little better showing.”

Nate Christian drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in the second inning to give Vincentian a 5-0 lead.

Union got runners on each inning from the second on, but could only score when Bryce Smith doubled home Tre Bendict in the sixth to end Turzai's day on the mound.

Reliever Danny Morgano recorded the final five outs to preserve the victory.

“We've been working so hard since November gearing up,” Bestic said. “To see this happen is a testament to the assistants, the parents, the players; I'm happy for everyone.”

UConn recruit Kyler Fedko reached base four times — three walks (two intentional) and a double in the sixth inning.

“He probably hit a ball about 500 feet against us at our place,” Sanders said. “After that, we said we're not going to let one person beat us. So that's our mindset going in.”

Fedko entered the game hitting .633.

“Just giving you first base?” Bestic asked rhetorically. “I think that's a mistake. But it's a testament to the type of player he is. Our guys want the pressure to drive him in. I think Kyler understands why it's happening.”

Vincentian concluded the scoring in the fourth when Nate Stover drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home Fedko.

“You dream about this all week long in your sleep,” Turzai said. “This is awesome. Ever since we stepped foot in the school four years ago, this was our goal. To earn it means a lot to us.”

The game was delayed 34 minutes after a lightning strike with one out in the top of the seventh.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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