By Pete Chiodo
May 28, 2013 7:00 a.m. SLIPPERY ROCK —
Shortly before the Saegertown and Sharpsville baseball teams went head-to-head in the District 10 Class AA championship game on Monday, Saegertown’s softball team arrived at Slippery Rock University’s Jack Critchfield Park to a round of applause by the Panthers faithful.
The girls were still in uniform, having just hustled down Interstate 79 from Erie where they had an hour before won their own D-10 title, beating Iroquois 5-0 in the Class A championship game at Penn State Behrend.
The girls then settled into their seats and watched with the rest of the Saegertown community as the baseball squad finished off an astounding feat.
This past Friday, Saegertown’s volleyball team won a District 10 championship.
Monday afternoon, Saegertown’s softball team won a District 10 championship.
A little later on Monday, the baseball team made it a trifecta as it bounced Sharpsville 10-3 in the Class AA final.
“For Saegertown to get three spring D-10’s, that’s unheard of around here,” said Panthers catcher Tyler Walters. “It’s incredible. There’s no way you can’t smile. We’re all headed to states. And hopefully we can all make a run there. We’ve got the team to do it, softball does too, volleyball does too. Hopefully it all comes together.”
This is the third straight District 10 championship for Saegertown’s baseball team.
“It’s amazing that these guys have hung with it and have done what they’ve done,” said Panthers head coach Tim Crum. “It’s fun to go to practice at this time of year, you know? We have a lot of fun. This is what we’ve been working for. And to do it three times consecutively, you cant even imagine what an awesome feeling that is.”
It’s now off to the state playoffs for the Panthers (19-2). They’ll face the runner-up team from the WPIAL. That will be either Quaker Valley or Beaver, which faces off in the WPIAL championship today at 5 p.m. at Consol Energy Field, home of the Washington Wildcats.
The first round of the PIAA playoffs is scheduled for Monday. A site and time for Saegertown’s game will be announced later.
“This isn’t enough,” said Crum. “This team is focused right now. They’re hungry. This isn’t enough for them. They deserve to be playing in the championship tournament as far as possible. We want to be there every game.”
Yesterday against Sharpsville (15-6), Saegertown scattered 10 base hits and pitcher Matt Thompson earned the win with five shutout innings.
Thompson worked out of some trouble in the opening two innings. In the first, Sharpsville had Bryan Stafford on second with no outs. Mitch Fyffe knocked a single into center field. Stafford made the turn at third. But Kyle Wise rifled him down at the plate with a terrific throw.
“That was a laser,” said Walters. “(Wise) has one of the best arms in this district and he showed it right there. He had confidence the whole way. He knew, ‘If that runner is going, he’s out.’”
In the second, Sharpsville had runners on second and third with just one out. But Thompson coaxed two come-backers to the mound to get out of the inning.
In the meantime, Saegertown’s offense was amassing a comfortable lead.
Walters put the Panthers ahead 3-0 in the first by clouting a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left field with two runners on.
“That kid is something else,” said Crum. “His bat is just unbelievable. He comes up big. You leave one hanging, he’s going to punish you for it. And that just sets the tone.”
Luke Carter made it 4-0 later in the first, reaching on and error and scoring on another error.
The Cats then went up 7-0 in the fourth. Stephen Sada led it off with a triple. Mitchell Wood drew a walk. And then Walters brought them both home with a single through the left side.
Carter made sure the inning kept going, singling and scoring on a base hit by Drew Durasa.
Saegertown tacked on another run in the fifth with a double by Scott Sada and an RBI grounder by Stephen Sada.
Things got a little tense in the sixth, however. Crum pulled Thompson off the mound looking to get pitcher Luke Basko some work. Thompson ended his day allowing zero runs on five hits with one walk and three Ks.
“Matt Thompson threw a gem,” said Crum. “He’s mad as heck at me right now about making that pitching change. And I understand that. He’s a gamer. It wasn’t anything he did wrong. We were up 8-0 and we were looking to get Luke some work. We knew we had Luke Carter and Jacob Digiacomo to go to if things got hairy. And they did.”
Sharpsville jumped right on Basko, scoring three runs on three hits and one hit batter in the sixth.
“They were hitting lasers off Luke, the poor guy. Then again, going up against a team’s 2, 3 and 4 batters is not the best place to get inserted when you haven’t pitched in awhile,” Crum said.
Basko was replaced for Carter, who slammed the door shut, finishing the last two innings with no hits, no runs and three strikeouts.
Saegertown’s offense also added a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Walters singled for his third knock of the ball game and later scored on a wild pitch. He was 3-for-4 at the dish with two runs and five RBIs. Carter, for the third time in the game, kept things going when he reached on a grounder and scored on another wild pitch.