Wicker shines on mound, at plate as Greensburg Salem tops South Park in 1st round

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 | 8:15 PM

It had been six years since the Greensburg Salem baseball team won a playoff game.

That drought ended Tuesday in the opening round of the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs.

Winning pitcher Matt Wicker allowed two runs over 5 23 innings and helped his own cause with a two-run home run as No. 8 Greensburg Salem defeated No. 9 South Park, 8-2, at Gateway.

Greensburg Salem (12-5) will face No. 1 Blackhawk (16-1) on Monday at a site to be determined.

With South Park (14-7) leading 1-0 and Jack Oberdorf on first base following a single, Wicker jumped on the first pitch he saw from left-hander Kevin Vaupel and launched the ball over the right-field fence for a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning.

“I was just ready to jump on that first pitch no matter where it was,” said Wicker, a junior. “I saw him coming with a lot of first-pitch fastballs. So I jumped on it.”

Once Greensburg Salem got the lead, the players' confidence at the plate seemed to grow. Vaupel struck out nine, but got little run support.

The Golden Lions added four more runs in the fifth inning on two-out RBI hits by Oberdorf, Jon Borbonus and Reid Admundson to push the lead to 6-1. Andrew Rosenberg and Oberdorf added RBI doubles in the sixth inning.

“Coming in, everyone was nervous because it was a playoff game, but we seemed to settle down as the game progressed,” Oberdorf said. “We limited errors and mistakes. It took us awhile, but we got the bats rolling. Wick pitched a great game, and he started it up with the home run.”

Wicker reached the 100-pitch mark in the sixth inning, but Rosenberg came in to finish it off. Wicker allowed two runs on four hits. He walked three and struck out eight.

“I wish I could have lowered my pitch count,” Wicker said. “I had a couple balls that I didn't need, but it worked out overall. It's great win because we get to go play the best now.”

Oberdorf led Greensburg Salem's 13-hit attack with three hits, while Wicker, Rosenberg, Admundson and Nick Demary had two each.

South Park had five hits, including a double by Mike Kentzel.

“I thought Matt kept them off balance, and he controlled their hitters throughout the game,” Greensburg Salem coach Bill Wisniewski said. “His pitch count got up, but he kept them off the base paths. Then he got the big hit for us.

“I told the players at the end of the game, we produced one through nine. We got on base, got the clutch hit when we needed and played defense.”

Wisniewski said the victory was also big because it gives the team confidence heading into Monday's game against Blackhawk.

“This is big because it helps us believe,” Wisniewski said. “Saying we can play with anyone is one thing, but actually going out and playing our game and competing is another. That's what we needed to do. It was a big confidence boost for us.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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