By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP —
Not many people expected a much out of the Edgewood Warrior baseball team this year.
With a young team featuring only two seniors, Edgewood advanced all the way to the district semifinal contest Monday night before losing an early lead and succumbing to a talented second-seeded Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin team, 8-5.
“There weren’t very many people at the start of the season who thought we’d get this far,” Edgewood coach Bill Lipps said. “I wasn’t so sure of it myself, either. We were young, but I am so proud of this bunch of kids. Nobody expected a No. 5-seed to be here.
“The kids just grind it out every day, there’s not a bad egg in the bunch, but today, where you want a team to just play catch with each other like in practice, we didn’t do it well at the wrong time.”
“Edgewood really came out ready to play today,” NDCL coach Jim Clark said. “We were very fortunate to get the opportunities we got late in the game that pulled us through. The kids kind of bailed me out there at the end. I thought we had a chance to score early in that sixth inning, but their right fielder (Devon Maurer) made a superb throw to cut down our runner at the plate.”
His comment was in reference to a one-out double leading off the bottom of the sixth with the Warriors (15-8) clinging tenuously to a 5-4 lead built in the first three innings.
Dominic DiFranco ripped a double into center field. Then Cody Paterniti drilled a rope to right field, and Maurer grabbed the ball on the first hop and fired a one hop strike to Nick Johnson at home to nail DiFranco for the second out.
Paterniti was the first batter to face Edgewood reliever Joey Zappitelli after he came in for starter Alex Vencill. Paterniti stole second, and Ryan Proud blooped a double down the left-field line to tie the game at 5. Steve Virost lined a single to right to score Proud, breaking the tie, and Anthony Leonetti struck for what should have been the third out.
However, a wild pitch on the third strike and errant throw plated pinch runner Anthony Radosky, and Ryan Falls singled to right to drive home the run that produced the final score.
“We’ve been pretty strong all year when it comes to having big innings,” Clark said. “We’re a team of big innings. The kids hang in all the time and never give up.”
As Edgewood starter Vencill mowed down the Lion hitters early with a mix of pinpoint fastballs and stellar curves.
The Warriors used a long double to right by Louie Wisnyai and single by Matt DiDonato in the first to score twice and tallied another pair in the second .
The only error of the game for NDCL (15-12) led the second, but a forceout at home with the bases loaded got one out. Connor McLaughlin singled home one run and a fielders choice off the bat of Anthony Magda sent home the second. McLaughlin delivered another single in the third to produce a 5-0 lead for Edgewood.
Vencill’s pitch count jumped in the bottom of the third as a bases loaded walk and error on a ground ball near first base tallied two unearned runs to cut the gap to 5-3.
“I thought that big play we didn’t make in the third inning on the infield was the play of the game,” Warrior coach Bill Lipps said. We’ve done a lot of nice things this season. Those kids worked hard. They will probably get on that bus and feel bad for a while. I think I will, too. Then again, we have a lot to be proud of, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Coach Clark, who celebrated his 400th coaching win this season with his team, saw them take that lead in the sixth after he brought in Ryan Falls to face Edgewood as starter Connor Kavcic lost steam. Falls (3-0) brought a lot of heat to the contest, and that put a chilling end to Edgewood’s season.
McLaughlin had three hits and drove home a pair for the Warriors. Leadoff man Andrew Graeb reached base all four times he hit with a single and three walks, DiDonato singled twice and walked.
NDCL got two hits and two runs from their leadoff man, Paterniti, cleanup hitter Anthony Leonetti walked twice and singled while scoring three times, and Falls also reached all four times he batted with a single, walk, taking a pitch in the leg, and reaching on an error his first time up.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.