STRATTANVILLE, Pa. — On Tuesday, Redbank Valley’s Dan Buzzard didn’t know how much he was going to be able to help during his team’s District 9 Class AA championship game against Karns City. After all, his back wasn’t feeling very good.
But come Wednesday, Buzzard’s back looked just fine during an eighth-inning mad dash around the bases that gave the Bulldogs their third straight District 9 Class AA title with a 4-3 win over Karns City.
"He wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to pitch today," long-time New Bethlehem Leader Vindicator sports editor Ron Willison said after the game. "But he got to the chiropractor, and was feeling pretty good."
For his part, Buzzard acknowledged that the chiropractor helped him feel better, but at the same time he was still surprised about his trip around the bases that scored the winning run for the Bulldogs.
"I’m not the fastest kid, and I don’t have the most stamina," said Buzzard, whose rope of a line drive into the right-center field gap started his mad dash around the bases. "I was dead (between second and third base). I looked up, and I saw coach waving me in. It took everything I had to get there."
Buzzard got waved in because the Karns City relay throw to third base got away from the third baseman. But it didn’t get all that far, and the Redbank senior had to back a dive on the pitchers’ mound side of home plate to beat the tag by the Gremlin catcher.
"I saw the ball get by, and I felt it was farther away than it really was," Redbank Valley manager Justin Merwin said. "I sent him, he made a tremendous play at home and we were really fortunate to get the call and the win out of it."
Redbank Valley trailed 3-0 after five-and-a-half innings but tied the game with three runs in the bottom of the sixth before winning the game in the eighth. Buzzard pitched well, allowing three earned runs on six hits and five walks while striking out three. He allowed just one run over his final five innings after getting nicked for two in the first.
But Karns City starter Derek Sadowski was just a little bit better over the first five innings and finished allowing one run (it was earned) on three hits and two walks while striking out seven in 5 1/3. But Sadowski got tired in the sixth, and reliever Ethan Williams ended up getting tagged with three unearned runs in 1 2/3 innings of work despite just giving up two hits. He did walk three.
Kent Shick was the winning pitcher for Redbank Valley.
"It wasn’t just me," Buzzard said. "It was every one of these guys."
2. Serra gets another no-hitter in winning second straight WPIAL Class A baseball title: For the second consecutive game, a Serra Catholic pitcher, this time Alain Girman, tossed a no-hitter, but you won’t know it by the final score. Walks and errors led to three Neshannock runs, but a long fly ball by the Lancers with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh was tracked down, giving the Eagles a 7-3 win in the WPIAL Class A title game Wednesday at Consol Energy Park in Washington, Pa.
Girman, who also threw a five-inning no-no in the semifinals, had trouble throwing strikes at times and walked six while hitting a batter, including walking the bases loaded in the ninth. He also struck out 12 and has allowed 18 hits in nearly 45 innings of work this season.
Ryan Caldwell was the big hitter for Serra with a pair of hits including a two-run home run and three RBI.
3. Beaver Falls claims WPIAL Class AA baseball title: Beaver Falls won its first WPIAL baseball title in 35 years with a 7-0 shutout of Burrell on Wednesday at Consol Energy Park.
Tyler Schuster shut down the Buccaneers, allowing just three hits while striking out 12, including five in a row at one point. Meanwhile, the Tigers offense used two-out lighting throughout the game, scoring six of their seven runs after two men were down. Admire Carter had a pair of hits, a run scored and two RBI, Marlo Cleckley added two RBI and Mike Stevenson was 3 for 3 with a triple, two runs scored and an RBI to lead the Beaver Falls offense.
4. Back-to-back home runs lift Hopewell to WPIAL Class AAA baseball crown: Hopewell got back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning from Scott Dierdorf and Matt Rubino to knock off defending champion Moon 2-1 in the WPIAL Class AAA title game Tuesday at Consol Energy Park.
Those home runs were more than enough for Dierdorf, who won his 13th game of the year against no defeats, allowing just one run in the sixth inning. The win was the third WPIAL title for longtime Hopewell head coach Joe Colella, who has been at the school since 1960 and the head coach since 1964. His other WPIAL titles came in 1979 and 2000, and he won the PIAA crown in 1986.
5. Laylock, Clark lead Pine-Richland to WPIAL Class AAAA baseball championship: Steve Laylock and Russell Clark lifted Pine-Richland (Gibsonia) to a 5-2 win over defending champion North Allegheny in the WPIAL Class AAAA baseball title game Tuesday at Consol Energy Park.
The win avenged a 6-3 loss to North Allegheny in last year’s title game and marked the first time since at least 1937 that the same two teams played in a WPIAL baseball title game in back-to-back years, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (both opponents are only available from 1937 forward).
Laylock allowed just two runs on five hits in his first year at Pine-Richland after transferring from a school in North Dakota prior to the school year. Meanwhile, Clark was 3 for 3 at the plate to pace the Rams offense.
6. Elk County Catholic, St. Marys also take home District 9 baseball titles: Elk County Catholic (St. Marys) and Punxsutawney also took home District 9 baseball titles during the week. ECC beat A-C Valley 10-1 in the Class A championship game Thursday in St. Marys, while Punxsutawney beat St. Marys 3-2 in Class AAA at Brockway on Wednesday.
7. Mercyhurst Prep, Sharpsville, Cory win District 10 baseball crowns: District 10 played its baseball title games Monday, and Mercyhurst Prep (Erie) (Class A), Sharpsville (Class AA) and Corry (Class AAA) all won titles. Mercyhurst Prep beat Linesville in the Class A title game, Sharpsville knocked off Franklin in the Class AA title contest and Corry defeated Warren in Class AAA.
8. PIAA playoff brackets to be released over the weekend: The PIAA will release its baseball championship brackets over the weekend.