Westmoreland County baseball notebook: Teams playing 1-run thrillers

Thursday, April 28, 2022 | 9:01 AM

Westmoreland County games have not lacked late-inning drama lately.

Take last Wednesday. If you didn’t walk it off, you probably didn’t win.

There were four one-run games that day.

• Brady Lane doubled, then scored on an error, as Penn-Trafford clipped Kiski Area, 3-2, in eight innings.

Hempfield dropped a 4-3 decision to Mt. Lebanon as Derrick Shields hit a walk-off double, spoiling Spartans home runs by Brandon Coughlin and Ryan Firmstone.

Canon-McMillan slipped past Norwin, 2-1, as Andrew Koan hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh, while Greensburg Central Catholic edged Monessen, 7-6, as Max Kallock ripped a pair of doubles.

On Monday, the thrills continued — at least in Alverton.

Kaiden Keefer hit a sacrifice fly to score Anthony Govern in the bottom of the seventh for a 2-1 victory over Charleroi. Govern doubled to set the table for the upstart Scotties.

Derry wasn’t as fortunate, as the Trojans were tripped up by Deer Lakes, 13-12, on a walk-off single by Wayne Love.

Playoffs approaching

May 12 is the final day for teams to complete section play. The top four teams in each section qualify for the WPIAL playoffs, which could begin the week of May 16.

The top three WPIAL finishers in Class 4A, 3A and A, the top four in 5A and 2A and the top two in 6A will advance to the PIAA playoffs.

Tight quarters

Hempfield is getting used to close games. The Spartans have played five one-run games, winning two of them — 2-1 over Upper St. Clair and 11-10 against Mt. Lebanon.

Who’s in first?

Latrobe is quietly sitting atop Section 1-5A, winners of nine of 10 games.

Nobody is catching the section champs, either.

The Wildcats were 8-0 in section after a 17-3 win over Kiski Area on Tuesday, giving them a 3.5-game cushion over Penn-Trafford (8-3, 4-3) with two section games to play — against the Warriors.

The teams will meet May 2-3 with Game 1 of the series at Latrobe.

Pulling rank

Latrobe catapulted into the TribLive HSSN Class 5A rankings this week, taking the No. 4 spot. The Wildcats join Peters Township (1), West Allegheny (2), Bethel Park (3) and Shaler (5).

Derry remained at No. 5 in Class 3A.

Scotties, Cougars for first?

Yough and Southmoreland will play their Section 4-3A series finale against one another Monday and Tuesday. Could the two-game set decide the section?

The teams were tied for first place after wins Monday. Southmoreland (6-3, 5-2) and Yough (6-4, 5-2) were a half-game ahead of Waynesburg (4-8, 4-4).

Southmoreland has never won a section title in baseball. Yough shared a section title with Greensburg Salem in 2019.

Helping his cause

Franklin Regional senior Jordan Suvak combined with Kyle Morgan to blank McKeesport, 10-0, in six innings.

Suvak pitched four innings of shutout baseball against the Tigers, who clipped Penn-Trafford on Monday, 4-2. He also homered for one of the Panthers’ 18 hits.

Latrobe’s Jake Albaugh also helped himself out with a homer in a 17-3 win over Kiski Area. He struck out six and allowed four hits in the win.

And Dylan Grabowski of Penn-Trafford ripped a double and drove in two to coincide with a 10-strikeout performance in a 10-0 win over McKeesport.

Manic Monday

Monday’s schedule is packed with key section games that are, in turn, packed with playoff implications and significance in the standings.

The top matchups, which will then flip sites for Tuesday’s matchups, include Norwin at Hempfield, Kiski Area at Franklin Regional, Penn-Trafford at Latrobe, Belle Vernon at Greensburg Salem, Mt. Pleasant at Ligonier Valley, Southmoreland at Yough and Greensburg Central Catholic at West Greene.

Word of mouth

“It’s pretty neat. He’s a special player. He’s the first to make it here. I am very proud.” — Norwin coach Mike Liebdzinski on his former star hitter, JJ Matijevic, getting called up to the majors with the Houston Astros

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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