Hazleton stages late rally to win PIAA opener

Last updated: June 02. 2014 11:36PM - 1631 Views
By - dlevarse@civitasmedia.com



Hazleton Area junior Joe Baran settled down the Cougars with a strong relief appearance, striking out six in 3.1 innings to help his team beat Hempfield in Monday's PIAA tournament opener.
Hazleton Area junior Joe Baran settled down the Cougars with a strong relief appearance, striking out six in 3.1 innings to help his team beat Hempfield in Monday's PIAA tournament opener.
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WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Dave Klein's mind was made up from his first stride out of the batter's box.
The Hazleton Area junior wasn't focused on teammate Kyle Rogers sprinting to the plate from third. Nor was he looking at the grounder he hit to short with two outs, which was bobbled. All that mattered was getting to first base.
Klein left his feet and dove head-first into the bag.
Safe.
“I was sliding,” Klein said with a laugh. “No matter what.”
As Rogers scored, Hazleton Area's dugout spilled onto the field for the celebration. The Cougars earned every bit of it.
Monday's 4-3 walk-off victory over Hempfield in the opening round of the PIAA Class 4A baseball tournament was one of the most significant in program history. And also one of the most improbable.
The Cougars entered the bottom of the sixth facing a 3-0 deficit, without so much as a hit against Hempfield lefty Jon Peterson.
But a one-out single in the frame by Joe Baran ended the no-hit bid. A day's worth of frustration seemed to fade away after that, leading to Dante Biasi's mammoth two-run double. Sal Biasi then drove in his brother to tie the game headed into the seventh before Rogers turned a leadoff single into the eventual winning run.
Sal Biasi pitched a 1-2-3 top of the seventh to pick up the win. Baran threw 3.1 innings of sparkling relief before that, keeping his team in the game.
“I don't even know what to say,” said a beaming Cougars coach Gino Cara when it was finally over. “Honestly, with this group — and I mean this very sincerely — we're never out until we're out.
“That's the beauty of baseball. It's not over until they get 21 outs. We got 21 outs, they only got 20.”
That 21st out never came for the Black Knights, who had made the state tournament after a string of upsets in the District 3 bracket. Rogers singled against Peterson in the seventh, moved to second on a Seth Porpiglia sacrifice and took third on a wild pitch.
With two away, Klein sent a 2-2 pitch to the left side and Hempfield couldn't make the play to extend the game.
“I was just looking to fight off a curveball and hit the fastball,” Klein said.
The Cougars (18-5) weren't hitting much of anything early on. Peterson and his effective curve had hitters swinging over top of pitches for plenty of grounders.
Through five innings, Hazleton had just two baserunners — Baran reached on an error in the first and Klein drew a walk in the third.
“Personally, I think he saved his best for our last game,” Knights coach Jeremy Morrison said of Peterson. “I think it's the best game that he's thrown for us this year. I think he had very good command of his pitches today. … He was in a groove.”
And his offense gave him a lead in the third inning on RBI singles by Michael Hernandez and Tim Gailor. Cara made the call to replace starter Tony Hernandez with two outs in the third after a walk loaded the bases.
Baran, who had warmed up before the game in case he was needed, immediately came on and struck out the first batter he faced on three pitches to keep the game at 2-0.
He would follow that up by fanning the next two batters in the following inning on three pitches apiece. The Knights pushed across an unearned run in the fifth on a perfect suicide squeeze, but Baran finished with six strikeouts and was as crucial to the win as anyone.
“Just had to stay confident and stay composed,” Baran said. “You can't get flustered.”
Baran's performance carried over to the plate. His sixth-inning single sparked the Cougars and Dante Biasi followed it up by hammering a two-strike pitch to the fence in left to score Baran and Klein.
Dante Biasi went to third on a groundout and then scored when a Sal Biasi grounder was just out of the reach of the shortstop.
“We knew we had a shot,” Cara said. “The inning before, we started really barreling some balls. So I knew we were getting close to breaking through. And well, here we are.”
NOTES
• The Cougars will face District 12 champ La Salle College in the quarterfinals on Thursday, with a site and time likely to be announced today. Parkland High School near Allentown has frequently hosted D2 teams in the quarterfinal round in recent years. La Salle beat Boyertown 6-3 on Monday.
• Hazleton first baseman Tommy Sharp was ejected after voicing his displeasure of a called third strike to end the fifth inning. By PIAA rule, he will be ineligible to play in Thursday's quarterfinal.
***
Hazleton Area 4, Hempfield 3
PIAA Class 4A first round
Hempfield`AB`R`H`BI`2B`3B`HR
Chase Gilbert 1b`4`1`1`0`0`0`0
G. Oberholtzer cf`3`0`0`0`0`0`0
Derek Manning rf`3`2`1`0`0`0`0
Mike Hernandez 3b`4`0`2`1`1`0`0
Jon Beck c`4`0`0`0`0`0`0
Tim Gailor ss`2`0`2`2`0`0`0
Jon Peterson p`2`0`1`0`0`0`0
Dustin Walter lf`0`0`0`0`0`0`0
Greg Gambler dh`3`0`0`0`0`0`0
Ben Lukawski 2b`3`0`1`0`0`0`0
Totals`28`3`8`3`1`0`0
Hazleton Area`AB`R`H`BI`2B`3B`HR
Dave Klein rf-cf`3`1`0`0`0`0`0
Joe Baran cf-p`3`1`1`0`0`0`0
Dante Biasi lf-rf-1b`3`1`1`2`1`0`0
Robbie John c`3`0`0`0`0`0`0
Sal Biasi 2b-p`3`0`1`1`0`0`0
Chris Panzarella ss`3`0`0`0`0`0`0
Tony Hernandez p`0`0`0`0`0`0`0
Kyle Rogers dh-lf`3`1`1`0`0`0`0
J. Budgeon lf-rf`0`0`0`0`0`0`0
Tommy Sharp 1b`2`0`0`0`0`0`0
Dominic Cara lf`0`0`0`0`0`0`0
Seth Porpiglia 2b`0`0`0`0`0`0`0
Mitch O'Donnell 3b`3`0`0`0`0`0`0
Totals`26`4`4`3`1`0`0
Hempfield`002`010`0 — 3
Hazleton Area`000`003`1 — 4
Hempfield`IP`H`R`ER`BB`K
Peterson (L, 3-1)`6.2`4`4`1`1`5
Hazleton Area`IP`H`R`ER`BB`K
Hernandez`2.2`6`2`2`3`2
Baran`3.1`2`1`0`0`6
S. Biasi (W, 1-0)`1.0`0`0`0`0`2
__________
PIAA BASEBALL PLAYOFFS
All teams are listed by (district-seed)
CLASS 4A
FIRST ROUND
Monday's results
Methacton 4, George Washington 0
Spring-Ford 2, Parkland 1
La Salle College 6, Boyertown 3
Hazleton Area 4, Hempfield 3
Conestoga 3, Cedar Cliff 2
Red Land 10, State College 2
Seneca Valley 4, Moon 2
DuBois 9, Baldwin 3
QUARTERFINALS
Thursday, June 5
• Methacton (1-1) vs. Spring-Ford (1-4), TBA
• La Salle College (12-1) vs. Hazleton Area (2-1), TBA
• Conestoga (1-3) vs. Red Land (3-3), TBA
• Seneca Valley (7-1) vs. DuBois (9-1), TBA
SEMIFINALS
Monday, June 9
• Quarterfinal winners at neutral sites
CHAMPIONSHIP
Friday, June 13
• Semifinal winners at Medlar Field, State College, 1 p.m.
__________
CLASS 3A
FIRST ROUND
Monday's results
Pope John Paul II 3, West Perry 1
Northeastern 3, Archbishop Wood 1
Tamaqua 12, Franklin Towne 2 (6 inn.)
Jersey Shore 4, Abington Heights 3
Harriton 9, Northern York 8
Blackhawk 4, Somerset 3
Punxsutawney 3, West Allegheny 2
Tuesday, June 3
• Cathedral Prep (10-1) vs. West Mifflin (7-3), 6 p.m., Jerry Uht Stadium, Erie
QUARTERFINALS
Thursday, June 5
• Pope John Paul II (1-1) vs. Northeastern (3-3), TBA
• Tamaqua (11-1) vs. Jersey Shore (4-1), TBA
• Harriton (1-2) vs. Blackhawk (7-2), TBA
• Punxsutawney (9-1) vs. Cathedral Prep-West Mifflin winner, TBA
SEMIFINALS
Monday, June 9
• Quarterfinal winners at neutral sites
CHAMPIONSHIP
Friday, June 13
• Semifinal winners at Medlar Field, State College, 6 p.m.
__________
CLASS 2A
FIRST ROUND
Monday's results
Neumann-Goretti 5, Berks Catholic 3
Bloomsburg 8, Lakeland 3
Notre Dame-Green Pond 6, Springfield Township 5
Loyalsock Township 6, Bald Eagle Area 1
Bedford 10, Steel Valley 4
Northwestern 7, Karns City 6
Central 4, Quaker Valley 1
Tuesday, June 3
• Franklin (10-1) vs. Seton LaSalle (7-2), 3:30 p.m., Jerry Uht Stadium, Erie
QUARTERFINALS
Thursday, June 5
• Neumann-Goretti (12-1) vs. Bloomsburg (4-2), TBA
• Notre Dame-Green Pond (11-1) vs. Loyalsock Township (4-1), TBA
• Bedford (5-1) vs. Northwestern (10-2), TBA
• Central (6-1) vs. Franklin-Seton LaSalle winner, TBA
SEMIFINALS
Monday, June 9
• Quarterfinal winners at neutral sites
CHAMPIONSHIP
Friday, June 13
• Semifinal winners at Medlar Field, State College, 10:30 a.m.
__________
CLASS A
FIRST ROUND
Monday's results
Devon Prep 8, York Catholic 5
Canton 11, MMI Prep 1 (6 inn.)
Schuylkill Haven 12, Jules Masterman 2 (5 inn.)
Juniata Valley 2, Lancaster County Christian 1
Cranberry 2, California 1
Bishop McCort 5, Eisenhower 0
Carmichaels 5, Southern Fulton 4
Elk County Catholic 3, Sewickely Academy 2
QUARTERFINALS
Thursday, June 5
• Devon Prep (1-1) vs. Canton (4-1), TBA
• Schuylkill Haven (11-1) vs. Juniata Valley (6-2), TBA
• Cranberry (9-2) vs. Bishop McCort (6-1), TBA
• Carmichaels (7-2) vs. Elk County Catholic (9-1), TBA
SEMIFINALS
Monday, June 9
• Quarterfinal winners at neutral winners
CHAMPIONSHIP
Friday, June 13
• Semifinal winners at Medlar Field, State College, 3:30 p.m.
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