Late rally lifts Central over Shadyside

DELIVERING — Catholic Central’s Matt Bell pitches against Shadyside in a Division IV sectional final on Tuesday. (Photo by Rick Thorp)

SHADYSIDE — For five innings of Tuesday’s Division IV sectional baseball final between Shadyside and Catholic Central, the pitchers — and the defenses behind them — were in control.

That all changed in the sixth.

There, the Crusaders awoke from their slumber, pegging the Tigers for four runs, en route to a 5-1 triumph at Fleming Field and a berth in next week’s district tournament.

The Crusaders will face Strasburg in the semifinal at 5 p.m. Monday at Claymont High School.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said Catholic Central head coach Don Young, whose club ousted Shadyside from the OVAC Class 2A tournament last month. “Early on, we missed some opportunities and made some mistakes, but we just kept telling (the players) to keep grinding. Our chance finally came, and we took advantage of it.”

Bryce Amos only allowed three hits and four baserunners in the first five innings. He lost his touch in the sixth, walking the first three batters (Anthony LeFever, Luca Connor and Anthony Sprochi) to load the bases.

At that point, Shadyside skipper Shawn Selmon brought in Mason VanNest to face Noah Fayak. The senior responded by lacing a hit into shallow right, scoring two and giving the Crusaders the lead. An error on the play also allowed Sprochi and Fayak to move to third and second, respectively, still with no outs.

VanNest next hit cleanup batter Dom Argentine to load the bases, followed by another hit batsman in Matt Bell. That one scored Sprochi, as the bases were loaded, and CCHS went up 3-1. Later, with two away, another hit batsman resulted in the fourth run of the inning.

“(Tuesday, like the OVAC semifinal), we thought we could do it early,” Young said. “We had some opportunities early but, again, we just had to stay with it.”

The Crusaders (13-8) left a runner stranded at third in the first, then fell victim to a pair of Shadyside defensive gems in the second and third that thwarted potential scoring threats.

The Tigers (17-6), meanwhile, had trouble getting their offense in gear but broke through in the third. With two out, Kelly Hendershot singled in Collin Holmes, but that was the only damage Shadyside could do against Bell, who went the distance, fanning six.

“He’s done that all year,” Young said of his ace. “(Tuesday), he kept his pitch count down. He was really efficient. He was throwing strikes, and he was pounding the zone.”

Young also praised Amos, who fanned one.

“Bryce certainly did a great job on the mound for us through five innings,” Selmon said. “We just couldn’t get our leadoff guy on in any inning. And, once we did get guys on, we had too many outs to do a whole lot with them.”

The Tigers registered three baserunners in the final two innings but, by then, it was too late.

“We weren’t being aggressive enough in the count,” Selmon said. “He’d go right at us, and we didn’t take advantage of it.”

Although disappointed at seeing the season end, Selmon said he was encouraged by many things he saw in 2019 and hopes the returning players build on those things for 2020.

“We just need to fix the things we’re lacking offensively,” he said. “We just need to get better at what we’re doing well.”

Catholic Central 5, Shadyside 1

Central 0-0-0 0-0-4 1 — 5-5-1

Shadyside 0-0-1 0-0-0 0 — 1-5-2

CATHOLIC CENTRAL: Bell wp (6K, 1BB) and Keeder. Fayak S, 2rbi; Bell S, rbi; Kissinger S, rbi.

SHADYSIDE: Amos lp (1K, 3BB), VanNest (6) (1K, 0BB) and Ripoly (7) (1K, 1BB) and Florence. Coggins 2S; Hendershot D, S, rbi.


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