Brandon Cole leads Bethel Park with 18 walks for a reason. Pitchers don’t want the junior catcher hurting their team at the plate.
Seneca Valley, however, made him bat. In turn, Cole made the Raiders pay. He collected four hits in Bethel Park’s 3-2 triumph in 10 innings at Boyce-Mayview Park.
“Brandon doesn’t get to swing the bat a lot because teams don’t want to face him,” BP head coach Tony Fisher said. “He really stepped up for us and was a leader. He was poised and focused.”
Cole honed in on hits that produced runs for the Hawks. He smacked a solo homer to highlight the second inning. He added an RBI single that scored Kevin Kogler in the sixth.
In addition to his double, Kogler added two singles to finish with three hits for the game. BP’s starting third baseman was also impressive in a relief appearance for Evan Bromley, who started the game sporting a 7-0 record.
Kogler entered the game with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth. He tossed one pitch and Mark Trotta hit into a 5-2-3 double play. Kogler yielded to Eric Chalus, who recorded the win after two innings of work.
Cooper Shoemaker enabled Chalus to post the W. The junior first baseman tagged a walk-off single that scored Chalus with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Chalus and Kogler tagged back-to-back singles before Anthony Strangis drew a free pass to load the bases for Shoemaker, who owns a .326 batting average.
The walk-off single was Shoemaker’s lone hit in four trips to the plate.
“I thought Cooper had some good at-bats already,” said Fisher. “His approach was good. It was only a matter of time before one found the hole.”
In the game, David Kessler collected two singles. Strangis also had a base hit.
Behind the plate, Brandon excelled. In addition to calling a great game, Cole anchored the defense, which turned the critical double play in the sixth inning after the Raiders had loaded the bases with one out–on a walk, an error and a bunt single.
“We made big plays when we had to,” Fisher said. “Our pitchers did a great job. We had timely hits and defensively, we performed well, particularly during the second half of the game, in the later innings.”
Though the contest added a few more grey hairs to his head, Fisher said that he anticipated a nail biter.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I expected an evenly-played game between two evenly-matched teams. I thought this would be a battle. Coming into this, I thought it would be a one-run game.”
The one-run decision ended BP’s poor playoff showing at Boyce-Mayview Park. The Hawks had lost four previous post-season games at the Upper St. Clair Township site to reach the WPIAL’s Final Four for the first time since 2011.
While the Hawks improved to 15-3 overall, the Raiders ended their season at 13-7 overall. They scored both of their runs on sacrifice fly balls in the second and third innings.
Cory Greiner pitched seven strong innings for SV before yielding to Ethan Edkins, who was saddled with the lose.
USC falls to P-T
In other WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinal playoff action, Upper St. Clair (13-7) dropped a 7-3 decision to top-seeded Penn-Trafford (17-3) at West Mifflin.
Bobby Layne tagged two hits and drove in two runs while Luke Fabac smacked a two-run double to spearhead the Warriors’ offense.
Andrew Casey led the Panthers’ attack with an RBI double in the first frame, and base hits in the sixth and seventh innings.
USC initiated the scoring when Grant Walnoha walked, swiped second and third and scored on Casey’s two-bagger. The Panthers tacked on a second tally when Joe Pulit singled and scored on a wild pitch.
The Panthers stranded two runners in the second after Walsh walked and Jake Casey singled.
The Warriors scored three runs in the third and in the fifth frames, carving out a 6-2 advantage.
Both teams loaded the bases and scored single tallies in the sixth. The Casey brothers both singled and Pulit doubled.
“Penn-Trafford was a very good team,” said USC manager Jerry Malarkey. “They played solid defense, had timely hitting and good pitching. That proved the difference in the game because they took advantage of their opportunities.”
South Fayette (12-8) did not surrender its title as defending champions easily but Franklin Regional (17-1) managed to keep its 17-game winning streak alive and dethrone the Lions by clawing out a 6-5 win in a WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinal playoff game on May 21 at West Mifflin.
“It’s a credit to their desire of always wanting to be in games,” said SF manager Kenny Morgan. “We don’t care who it is we are playing, we are never out of anything. We feel confident to claw back into games and win them no matter what the deficit is.”
The Lions fell behind by five runs after three innings and trailed by two heading into the final two frames. They got one back in the seventh but stranded the tying run at third. SF left eight men on base in the game.
“I credit Franklin Regional for beating, but we had opportunities,” Morgan said. “We just didn’t cash in on them.”
SF scored in the seventh on an infield single by Ryan McGuire, who was 2-for-3 in the game.
The Lions had a chance to erase the deficit in the sixth but with runners on first and second, Joey Alcorn’s sinking line drive was ruled a catch by right fielder Andrew Muraco and the Panthers completed the inning-ending double play.
Free passes also hurt the Lions.
A leadoff walk to Mike Klingensmith ignited the Panthers’ five-run third inning. Jake Williams followed with an infield single, then Tommy Kegerreis tagged a two-run triple. Louie Kegerreis then hit a sacrifice fly. Muraco later smacked a two-run homer.
In the top of the fourth, SF answered with four runs. Tyler Sharp singled to score courtesy runner Jon Casillo. A pair of errors and an infield single from Alcorn allowed SF to trim the deficit to 5-4.
Franklin Regional added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth when Louie Kegerreis doubled to score Williams, making the score, 6-4.
Observer-Reporter writer Luke Campbell contributed to this story.