HOMER CITY - The Bishop Carroll Catholic baseball team proved once again patience is a virtue.
The District 6 champion Huskies spotted Chartiers-Houston a 6-0 lead after two innings Monday, only to rally past the WPIAL runner-up, 7-6, in a PIAA Class A first-round baseball playoff game at sun-drenched First Commonwealth Field.
Ryan Woo - who relieved Nick Lassak with one out in the second inning - completed the comeback with a two-run homer over the right-field fence in the fifth.
"We were in a pretty big hole coming out of the second inning, and I knew I had to dig down and not give up any runs for us to have a chance to get back in this game," said Woo, who struck out nine, including seven straight covering the fifth through seventh innings.
"We've had the mind-set all year that we never give up because we know the type of team that we have," said second baseman Dylan Link, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. "Everyone seems to come together in these playoff games, these tight ones."
The Huskies (15-8) play Serra Catholic in a battle of district champions on Thursday at a site and time to be determined. Serra Catholic (18-2) outlasted Elk County Catholic on Monday, 11-5.
The Buccaneers (12-8) took advantage of Nick Lassak's wildness, parlaying three walks and three hits into a 6-0 lead. Kaleb Susko and Austin Kerr drew back-to-back walks with the bases loaded, and Alex Holsopple followed with a two-run single to give Chartiers-Houston a 4-0 lead. Josh Counihan's two-run double chased Lassak.
Bishop Carroll coach Matt Pfeil expressed no regrets starting Lassak, who switched places with Woo after 1 1/3 innings.
"Ever since game one of the playoffs, this is what we've started with, it's been working so we stuck with it," Pfeil said, "Nick just had a bad day. That happens in baseball. He's a team player, he didn't give up, he still took his at-bats and he cheered Woo on."
Pfeil said he will expect Lassak to be ready to start Thursday's second-round game.
Woo followed with 5 2/3 hitless innings. He retired the first five men he faced, only to pitch his way into a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning.
He induced Counihan into a 1-2-3 double play, and struck out Dylan Pounds to end the threat.
"The momentum changed when we got the double play," Pfeil said. "Even since then, we didn't look back."
Woo faced another predicament in fifth when he hit the leadoff batter and walked the next. But catcher Taylor Makin picked courtesy runner Miles Williamson off at second to complete another unique double play and start a skein of seven consecutive strikeouts.
"We walked a lot of people. That's what hurt," Woo admitted. "And for us to have that double play and the front end of that strikeout and throw him out at second - it was huge because we gave up too many free passes."
It was enough to keep the Huskies in the game. Bishop Carroll mounted its comeback in the third inning when Drew McCabe doubled home Link to put the Huskies on the board. Link's two-run double in the fourth, combined with a misplayed relay throw, cut the difference to two.
"The wheels kind of came off," said Chartiers-Houston manager Brady Yevins. "The kids were playing hard and then the bats went quiet."
"We knew we had to keep our composure," Woo said. "We could have panicked in the second inning whenever we were down 6-0. We took it an inning at a time, scored two or three runs an inning. We knew that if we just chipped away then we'd come away with a 'W.'"
Counihan's wild pitch in the fifth sprang home McCabe and set the stage for part of Woo's heroics.
With Josh King aboard after a fielders' choice, Woo launched a towering blast that cleared the 10-foot high chain link fence and put the Huskies in front for the first time.
"It was a fastball and it was 2-1," Woo said. "I was looking for a good pitch, and he put it down the middle."
Woo retired the last eight men he faced, closing out his ninth victory in 11 decisions on a pop fly to Link.
"The curveball that we saw the first four games was back tonight," Pfeil said, "and it just stunned them. It froze them. That was his out pitch tonight."
CHARTIERS-HOUSTON (6): Grego ss 210, Counihan p-cf 401, Pounds 3b 400, Betts c 311, Williamson cr 010, Whitfield cf-p 110, Jones lf 210, Susko 2b 210, Kerr 1b 200, Holsopple dh 211, Johnston rf 000. Totals 22-6-3.
BISHOP?CARROLL (7): Link 2b 413, Lassak p-lf 400, McCabe ss 312, Makin c 200, Barzdo cr 000, King 3b 312, Woo lf-p 321, Sammarco cf 300, Maruca dh 210, Strong 1b 000, Tatarko rf 110, Totals 25-7-8.
Chartiers-Houston060 000 0 - 6 3 1
Bishop Carroll001 330 x - 7 8 0
2B-Counihan, McCabe, Link. HR-Woo. RBI-Counihan 2, Susko, Kerr, Holsopple 2, Link 2, McCabe, Woo 2.
Chartiers-Houston-Counihan (L), 4.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO; Whitfield, 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO.
Bishop Carroll-Lassak, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO; Woo (W) 5.2 IP 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 SO.
Records: Chartiers-Houston (12-8); Bishop Carroll (15-8).