By Corey J. Corbin
Herald Sports Correspondent
MERCER COUNTY —
SLIPPERY ROCK — Monday was a pretty good day for Saegertown High School.
Just mere hours after the Lady Panthers won the District 10 Class A softball championship, the Saegertown baseball team (19-2) captured its third straight D-10 Class AA title with a convincing 10-3 victory over Sharpsville (15-6) at Slippery Rock University’s Jack Critchfield Park.
“We knew going into the game that Saegertown’s a pretty good team and they’ve been a pretty good team for the past few years,” Blue Devils coach Mike Sikorski said. “I think they’ve been in the District 10 Championship the past four years. They’re a solid team, a very good team. They’re very patient at the plate and when they get their pitches, they hit them.”
Despite the lopsided final verdict, the Blue Devils attacked the Panthers early on when Bryan Stafford reached on a game-opening error and stole second before being gunned down on a near perfect throw from Saegertown centerfielder Kyle Wise to catcher Tyler Walters on Mitch Fyffe’s single. Fyffe made it to third with two away, but was stranded.
“Yeah, I probably got a little agressive early on ... I got excited,” said Sikorski. “The kid had a good arm. You notice who has good arms in the infield and in the outfield or the guy who isn’t going to put it on the cutoff or throw it up the line. We took a chance and ultimately looking at the score now, it didn’t kill us. But maybe it killed a chance for a little momentum for our guys.”
A pair of Sharpsville errors and a pair of walks greatly aided Saegertown in a 4-run first-inning explosion.
“We made some errors early on,” Sikorski said. “It was one of those things were we came out and weren’t completely ready. If you want to move in the playoffs, you have to play a tight game defensively.”
In the second, Sharpsville was making some one-out noise when Taylor Lenzi and Tanner Morris made it to second and third, but weak grounders back to Saegertown starter Matt Thompson ended the threat.
“(Saegertown) did a good job of keeping runners back and doing what they do,” Sikorski said. “They did what they needed to do. We needed to put the ball in play and make something happen. We can’t be striking out or hitting weak groundballs where our guys can’t advance. You have to advance runners if you’re going to make an out.”
By the time Sharpsville’s offense finally cracked the scoreboard in the sixth off reliever Luke Basko, Saegertown was already up 8-0.
Fyffe opened the inning with a double before scoring on Greg Popatak’s triple. After Jalen Mockabee was plunked, Tyler Wansack singled home Popatak and sent Mockabee to third. Mockabee, then, scored on an attempted double steal that erased Wansack from the basepaths.
“We started to pick up a little bit and started to square on the ball,” Sikorski said. “I think our region was one of the toughest in all of District 10. All our games were tight games and it prepared us to play a team like this. I’m thankful for league being like that, because it prepares our guys from getting so far down that they can’t come back out. We’ve come back from a two-run deficit (in the past) to win the game.”
Fyffe singled twice and doubled to pace Sharpsville, while Morris also singled twice.
“We have made the playoffs in each of the past four years, but we’ve gotten upset,” Sikorski said. “Hopefully, we get back next year. “We had five sophomores (see significant playing time this year), so we have a pretty good squad coming back. We have some sophomores that will be juniors next year that will help us on the mound. We have some freshmen that got some time.
“(The 2013 Sharpsville seniors are) a great bunch of guys. None of them have ever been a problem. You tell them to run through a wall and they’ll go do it. They’re great kids. They love to play the game and play it hard.”
Notes:Saegertown will play WPIAL No. 3 seed either Quaker Valley or Beaver in the first round of the PIAA Playoffs June 3 at Jerry Uht Park. ... Sharpsville became the only team to score against Saegertown in the postseason and were just the fifth team to score more than 1 run against the Panthers. ... Lenzi was handed the loss on the mound, surrendering 8 runs on 7 hits, 4 walks. ... George Keck pitched the final inning for Sharpsville. ... Tyler Walters homered, singled twice and drove in 5 runs to lead Sharpsville. ... Matt Thompson picked up the win by tossing 5 innings of 5-hit, 1-walk, 2-strike out ball.
In other District 10 Championship action,
ä Slippery Rock 7, Warren 6 (9 innings) — At SRU, the sixth-seeded Rockets (14-7) secured the school’s first baseball district title with the thrilling victory over third seeded Warren (15-6) in the Class AAA finale.
Cody Stephenson doubled home Travis Lauster, who opened the seventh with a single and advanced to second on a Dragon error.
Slippery Rock took a 2-0 lead in the second inning, but Warren answered with a 6-run third inning.
From there, the Dragons managed just 3 hits off Stephenson over the next 6 innings as the Rockets scratched and clawed back into the game.
Slippery Rock scored a run in the third and 3 in the fifth to force extra innings.
Stephenson pitched all 9 innings, allowing 6 runs on 8 hits, 6 strikeouts and 2 walks. Ryan Lauster tripled and drove in 2 runs for SR, while Stephenson, Joe Barnhart and Jackson Kerchis each doubled.