West Mifflin gets past Montour in 12 innings in Class 4A WPIAL title marathon

Tuesday, May 31, 2022 | 9:02 PM

West Mifflin did some unconventional things during the WPIAL Class 4A baseball championship game Tuesday at Wild Things Park in Washington.

West Mifflin, at times, had four outfielders and three infielders. It over-shifted and played Montour to pull the ball. It had batters switching to the other batter’s box after taking a strike.

But in the end, it was a fundamental baseball play that helped the Titans claim their first WPIAL title, outlasting No. 1 Montour, 5-4, in 12 innings. It tied the longest extra championship game at Wild Things Park. Jeannette defeated Greensburg Central Catholic in 12 innings in the Class A final in 2017.

It was the second consecutive championship-game loss for Montour. New Castle beat the Spartans, 5-0, in 2021.

West Mifflin (18-3) scored two runs in the top of the 12th and held off a Montour (17-6) rally in the bottom of the inning.

With one out, Jake Walker tripled and scored when right fielder Cole Fleck dropped a line drive in short right field. Bert Kovalsky’s sacrifice fly to left scored Devin Matey with an insurance run. Earlier in the game, Walker battled cramping, which forced him to sit out an inning.

But he looked fresh on his triple.

“It was a fastball away,” Walker said. “This is awesome. We’re very excited. This is nice, but we have another goal.”

West Mifflin coach Jeff Kuzma said his team used its unconventional tactics all season, offensively and defensively.

“We want to win the battles both mentally and physically,” he said. “But again, Montour was up for the challenge. I wouldn’t have expected that game to go any differently, but at the end, we did just enough.”

West Mifflin grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on consecutive singles by Walker, Matey and Derek Kleinhans.

Montour starting pitcher Dylan Mathiesen got a strikeout and fly out to end the threat.

Montour wasted a lead-off double by Mason Sike in the second inning. Sike hesitated on a ground out and was thrown out at the plate. Montour coach Bob Janeda said he felt Sike’s double off the left field wall should have been ruled a home run.

“We had our chances,” Janeda said. “We probably had three or four in the bottom of the inning and we just didn’t get the timely hit.”

Montour had two hits with one out in the third inning, but West Mifflin started Pierson Buck got a strikeout and fly out to end the threat.

West Mifflin got a runner to second base in the fourth but stranded him.

Montour finally broke through in the fourth inning when Matt Luchowick walked. Maddox Tarquinio replaced him and Sike singled.

Luchowick finished with two doubles, Sike had a double and single, and Cole Fleck a triple and double.

West Mifflin over-shifted its outfield and Fleck lined a two-run triple to centerfield. Fleck scored on a sacrifice fly by Jake Robinson.

The Titans tied the score, 3-3, in the sixth inning without the help of a hit. Mathiesen hit three batters and issued a walk. Sike, who came in relief, walked Walker to force home the tying run.

“Wow,” is the way Kuzma described the feeling of winning.

“I don’t know if words can describe what just happened,” Kuzma said. “I’m proud of everybody. The sea of blue that was here, it’s something the boys will never forget and something I’ll never forget.

“That was the best of the best on display by both teams. I can believe we were able to hold them down, but my staff did a great job preparing the players.”

West Mifflin’s pitchers – Buck, Walker and Ryan Lang – weren’t overpowering, but they were effective. Land got credit for the win.

Montour was seeking its second WPIAL title. The Spartans defeated Penn Hills, 3-1, in 12 innings to claim the 1972 title.

Both teams advance to the PIAA tournament, which begins Monday. West Mifflin will play host to District 5 champion Somerset (15-7) and Montour will face District 6 champion Bellefonte (17-3).

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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