Adam Polites struck out T.J. Krol on just three pitches with a nasty curveball.
Unfortunately for Polites and his Northern Cambria teammates, his curve was too much for catcher Brian Laurito as well.
Krol whiffed on strike three but reached first on a wild pitch to begin the bottom of the fourth inning for Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic in its opening round game during the Curve Classic high school baseball tournament at Peoples Natural Gas Field Friday.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic’s Jared Keller (left) and Jextin Pugh celebrate during the Marauders’ 8-2 win over Northern Cambria on Friday in the Curve Classic at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
The play ignited a five-run inning that helped BG top the Colts, 8-2.
"Teams come into this ballpark, with this home plate here, and it changes what they can do," Bishop Guilfoyle manager Bill Wolf said. "A lot of these schools aren't used to all that area behind the plate."
The Marauders play their home games at Vets Field, which also has a large space between home plate and the backstop, so they understand the importance of pitching around the plate.
Bishop Guilfoyle starter Matt Stewart walked just one, struck out seven and went the distance on the mound. Stewart's lone walk was intentional to Laurito after the Northern Cambria catcher doubled home a run in the first inning.
"For a sophomore, he's pitching very, very well," Wolf said. "He doesn't let base hits bother him. He gave up a big bomb in the first inning, but he came back and worked out of some jams."
Meanwhile, Stewart's Colt counterparts walked eight batters and threw five wild pitches, including one that allowed Jared Keller to score from third in the third inning and knot the game at one.
"We just got lax and made a couple mental errors," Northern Cambria manager John Bonatesta said. "[The fourth inning] was the only inning they really outscored us. We hit them, but we just didn't hit them at the right time."
Things looked bright for Northern Cambria early. After taking a 1-0 lead against Stewart in the first inning, Colts starter Josh Prasko struck out five and allowed just one run. Despite his success, Bonatesta pulled him after three innings.
"Josh was on a pitch count of 50 pitches," Bonatesta said. "We have a conference game on Monday."
Polites relieved Prasko and struck out his first two batters, but Krol reached on the wild pitch. The Marauders capitalized with four singles and three walks. The biggest blows came in the form of back-to-back two-run singles by Jextin Pugh and Mike Pleva.
"Mike had a big hit behind [Pugh] today," Wolf said. "Jex is tough. Jex is one of the best hitters I've seen in a long time."
Given a 6-1 lead, Stewart cruised the rest of the way. The Marauders capped it off with a fancy double play in the top of the seventh inning. Laurito hit a sharp grounder up the middle, and Keller dove to snag it. The shortstop flipped the ball to Pat Irwin at second, who completed the twin-killing with a throw to first.
"It was all the defense," Stewart said. "Getting that run support was great and gave me a lot of confidence."
The Marauders will take on Hollidaysburg at 3 p.m. today in the semifinals.
"It's great playing here," Pugh said. "Everyone wants to play here at the Curve's stadium. We all come and watch the Curve, so it's a really good feeling to be down on the field at the ballpark."
NORTHERN CAMBRIA (2): Bonatesta cf , Prasko p-lf 411, Polites lf-p-ss 412, Laurito c 301, Paronish cr 000, Wagner 3b 401, Wissinger pr 000, Eckenrode rf 300, Waldron 1b 000, A. Lieb dh 300, Olish 2b-p 302, Yuhas ss-p-2b 301. Totals 30-2-9.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (8): Irwin 2b 422, Keller ss 221, Pugh 1b 322, Pleva c 302, Litzinger cr 010, Adams rf 000, Wolfe dh 200, Johnson 3b 200, Krol cf 310, Stewart p 300, Cursio lf 311. Totals 25-8-8
Score by inning
Northern Cambria100 010 0 2 9 1
Bishop Guilfoyle001 511 X 8 8 1
E-Yuhas, Keller. 2B-Laurito. RBI-Laurito, Eckenrode, Pugh 2, Pleva 2, Irwin, Wolfe. WP-Stewart. LP-Polites. SO-Stewart 7, Prasko 5, Polites 2, Yuhas 1, Olish 1. BB-Stewart 1, Prasko 3, Yuhas 3, Polites 1, Olish 1.
Umpires: Bill Johnson (HP), Larry Stitt (bases)
Records: Northern Cambria (3-2); Bishop Guilfoyle (6-1).