Wildcats fall just short of gold in WPIAL 4A title game

Greater Latrobe couldn't capitalize on early 2-0 lead against Hopewell

Tue May 30, 2023 - 7:08PM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers
Logan Bradish finished with two hits and a run scored for Greater Latrobe. He also allowed four runs in seven innings and was the losing pitcher.Logan Bradish finished with two hits and a run scored for Greater Latrobe. He also allowed four runs in seven innings and was the losing pitcher.

Last Updated: Tue May 30, 2023 - 11:55PM

Trailing by a run in the bottom of the seventh inning, fifth-seeded Greater Latrobe appeared poised for another rally. Erick Batista perfectly placed a bunt to reach base with one out, and he swiped second to get into scoring position. With Louie Amatucci at the plate representing the winning run, however, Batista was picked off by Hopewell pitcher Landon Fox. Two pitches later, Amatucci struck out looking to end the contest, giving the No. 14 Vikings their second title in the past three seasons and fifth overall.

Although his team was on the wrong end of the outcome, Greater Latrobe head coach Matt Basciano credited the Wildcats’ resolve in the unlikely championship matchup.

“At the start of the season, no one would’ve picked us to be in the finals, and these two teams played some great baseball today,” he said. “Our kids kept fighting. Even in that last inning, we went down to our final out fighting.

“Their work ethic, their fight, their heart got them here,” Basciano continued. “It’s just unfortunate today we were unable to get that W.”

While the ending was filled with disappointment for the Wildcats (17-7), the start of the game was in stark contrast, as the Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. After GL pitcher Logan Bradish retired the Vikings (12-11) in order in the top of the frame, the Wildcats jumped on Fox. Batting in the leadoff spot, Batista was hit by a pitch, and one out later, Bradish clubbed a double to right. With two runners in scoring position, Tony Massari delivered a two-run single to right to give GL the lead.

Hopewell responded immediately, though, scoring three runs in the top of the second. Gregory Barlion opened with a single, and Fox followed with a double. Although Bradish recorded a strikeout, he then issued a walk to Kingston Krotec and hit John Vescio, which brought in Barlion. Then Zachary Gigliotti delivered an RBI single, and Ty Eberhardt gave the Vikings the lead with a sacrifice fly.

From that point forward, runs were at a premium, as both starting pitchers settled in and ultimately went the distance.

While Bradish was strong over the final five innings, the Vikings took advantage of a couple of GL errors in the fourth, as Gigliotti delivered a sacrifice fly to plate Lucas Walton.

The Wildcats trimmed their deficit to 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth, as Batista ripped a one-out triple down the left-field line and scored on a sac fly off the bat of Amatucci.

Batista went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored, while Massari also went 2-for-3, producing a pair of RBIs. In addition to a 2-for-3 effort at the dish, Bradish allowed six hits and four runs over seven innings, issuing a pair of walks and striking out two.

“He’s a fighter, he’s a bulldog,” Basciano said of his senior hurler. “He pitched a great game.”

Similarly, Fox notched a complete game, giving up seven hits and three runs, striking out six. Offensively, Fox and Barlion each posted two-hit efforts, while Gigliotti had two RBIs.

Although the Wildcats were denied their second WPIAL crown, they will continue their season in the PIAA Class 4A playoffs on Monday against the champion of District 6, 8, or 9.

“They have nothing to hang their heads about. This one definitely stings, but we gotta look at the big picture – we were down to the final two teams,” the Wildcats’ veteran coach noted. “We gotta learn from this and move on and get ready for the third season on Monday.”