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BREAKING THROUGH

Blue Devil baseball team nabs first PIAA win since 2003

Jack+Showalter+gets+high+fives+up+and+down+the+line+after+B-A%27s+PIAA+playoff+win.
Jack Showalter gets high fives up and down the line after B-A's PIAA playoff win.

Jack Showalter gets high fives up and down the line after B-A's PIAA playoff win.

Manning Photography

Manning Photography

Jack Showalter gets high fives up and down the line after B-A's PIAA playoff win.


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Manning Photography
Sawyer Kline unloads a pitch during the Blue Devils’ 3-2 win over Newpoert in the PIAA playoffs.

Sawyer Kline had been here before.

So had Joey Padula … and Jordan McCracken … and all five of the seniors on the Bellwood-Antis baseball team. On the verge of a win in the PIAA playoffs with everything in the balance late.

Experience like that pays dividends.

So while a 1-0 extra-inning loss to Neshanock in this same round two seasons ago was heartbreaking, it also helped lay the foundation for Monday’s 3-2 win over Newport at North York High School.

“It helped a good bit,” said McCracken, who scored a sixth-inning run to make it 2-0. “We could look back on our mistakes against Neshanock, fix them, and learn from them and apply them. But it was just another big game, and our five seniors have played in lots of big games in our careers.”

That they have, but often they have come up on the short end, including a ICC title game loss in 2015 and losses in the District 6 2A finals in both 2015 and this season.

However, all that was history with yesterday’s win, and now the Devils are writing a new history. Their win gave the program its first PIAA win since 2003, the same season B-A won its first state championship under then first-year coach Steve Conlon.

Kline, who pitched 6 2/3 innings to get the victory, agreed that the experience B-A gained from its PIAA loss two seasons ago played a factor.

“It calmed me down,” he said. “I knew what to expect from other teams in the tournament.”

It all comes down to defense in tight games like these when you are playing good teams.”

— Jordan McCracken

Kline was masterful most of the game, scattering 8 hits while fanning 9, but with the Devils up 3-1 in the seventh he exited with the bases loaded, giving way to freshman Travis Luensmann.

Luensmann walked the first batter he faced to make it 3-2, but induced a ground out from the next batter to end the game.

B-A will now face Marian Catholic in the quarterfinals Thursday at 3:30 back at North York.

“It felt good to get that first state playoff win that our five seniors have fought so hard for our entire careers,” said McCracken.

Kline said he felt he “was able to get into a zone” against the Buffaloes, and the tight nature of a high-stakes game did little to deter that.

“I had to concentrate more and let my defense work,” he said. “I was able to relax with a one-run game. I felt like I had an edge over their lineup, and that gave me confidence.”

Manning Photography
Joe Padula brings home one of his two RBIs against Newport.

Padula did most of the damage offensively for B-A, which managed only six hits against Newport starter Darin Zieders. He had a sacrifice fly in the third to make drive home one run and make it 1-0, and then singled home what amounted to the game winner in the seventh. Jack Showalter plated McCracken with a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

McCracken said he felt the team was fortunate to win a PIAA game with only six hits, but, he said, that is the nature of the game at this level.

“It all comes down to defense in tight games like these when you are playing good teams,” he said. “Defensively, we were outstanding, and when we are good defensively we are a hard team to score on.”

B-A improved to 18-5, while Newport, the District 3 champ, ended its season at 15-7.

 

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The Voice of the Bellwood-Antis Student Body
BREAKING THROUGH