Westmoreland baseball notebook: Franklin Regional uses simple formula for success

Thursday, April 8, 2021 | 4:48 PM

Franklin Regional is winning with a simple formula. One that has produced pure, fundamentally sound baseball.

And four wins in as many games.

“Pitching and defense,” coach Bobby Saddler said. “We knew we had both, and our guys are proving it.”

The Panthers (4-0, 2-0), ranked No. 3 in Class 5A, are limiting opposing offenses and enriching their own with extra-base hits and gap power.

The lineup has adopted a more patient approach to make sure runs get home.

“We’re not having bad at-bats, and we’re making plays,” Saddler said. “When one guy gets it going, you see other guys getting hot, too.”

As for that defense, anyone in the glove-clad nine can make plays. Junior right fielder Caden Smith has corralled fly balls whipped sideways by the wind and also has made diving plays to end rallies.

Senior shortstop Louie Kegerreis and senior second baseman Andrew Muraco are a double-play pair, and 6-foot-3 senior first baseman Tim Quinn can stretch out with the best of them.

“When the defense makes plays, it fires you up (as a pitcher),” senior pitcher Brian Pirone said. “They got me, and I got them.”

Muraco has not pitched this season as he deals with a minor arm ailment, but he has been strong at the plate. “Rock” is doing other things for the Panthers. He homered and doubled twice in a 4-0 win at Penn-Trafford.

“He’s one of the best, if not the best, guys on the team,” Pirone said of Muraco. “We know he is going to help us in some way.”

Franklin Regional won one-run games against Hempfield and Connellsville and swept Penn-Trafford in its first two-game section series of the season. The Panthers erupted for seven runs in the sixth inning as they downed the Warriors, 8-4, in the second game of the series.

Maund ceremony

Penn-Trafford will dedicate the marble bench memorial to fallen baseball alum Maclean Maund on Friday before the Warriors host Norwin. The ceremony, which has been postponed twice, will begin about 3:50 p.m. on the hillside above third base, where the bench is located.

Maund was killed in a vehicle accident in January 2020 along Route 130 near Jeannette. He was a freshman on the Seton Hill baseball team.

Scotties’ upset

Southmoreland opened Section 4-3A play on a high note: a 5-3 upset against No. 5 Waynesburg.

Junior Anthony Govern gave up three hits and struck out nine and went 2 for 3 with a triple, while Ben Zimmerman had two hits and stole four bases for the Scotties, who went 1-11 in section play in 2019.

The Scotties validated the victory by holding off Waynesburg the next day, 8-7, as Kory Ansell and Noah Phillips each had two hits and combined for five RBIs.

Latrobe rallies

Latrobe rallied under the lights at Graham-Sobota Field to top visiting McKeesport, 6-5, in 10 innings on Tuesday night. The Wildcats trailed 5-0 heading to the bottom of the fifth but tied it on matching two-run singles by Tucker Knupp and Max Wilson.

Logan Short brought home Drew Clair on a fielder’s choice for the sixth unanswered — and deciding — run for the Wildcats.

Tommy Ciesielski pitched well in relief, allowing one hit and striking out 10 in five innings.

GCC returning

Some Greensburg Central Catholic baseball players returned to practice early last week after a recent covid shutdown/quarantine spell.

A few others were still out and were set to rejoin the team later.

The Centurions played their opener Thursday against Southmoreland.

LV starts fast

It didn’t take Ligonier Valley long to win in the WPIAL. The Rams won their first two games by a combined score of 21-2, with wins over Jeannette (16-0) and East Allegheny (5-2).

The Rams swept East Allegheny, winning the second game, 9-6, to move to 3-0.

Against Jeannette, a WPIAL championship team just a four years ago, Ligonier Valley erupted for 15 runs in the third inning.

Jake Bleehasd, Nick Beitel and Connor Tunstall have been among the top players for the Rams.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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