Defense proves difference as Huskies end campaign

HOMER CITY — Tuesday’s matchup between top-seeded Homer-Center and eighth-seeded Bishop Carroll had all the makings to turn into a pitchers’ duel.

It turned out to be just that.

The Wildcats’ Nate Davis pitched a complete-game shutout and struck out 10 as Homer-Center beat the Huskies, 3-0, in a District 6 Class 1A quarterfinal-round baseball game at First Commonwealth Bank Field that was knotted at 0-0 through 5¢ innings.

Davis outdueled fellow junior lefty and Penn State recruit Carson Ertter, who finished with seven strikeouts in a six-inning complete-game effort.

“It was a combination of both (Davis’ fastball and his curveball),” Bishop Carroll coach Bill Schenk said. “He had a really good curveball. It was hard for us picking it up. His release point was the same for his curveball and his fastball.”

Davis allowed just two hits, and Ertter gave up four.

“When I heard we were going to get that kid, I decided that I was going to go out there today and be the best left-handed pitcher on the field,” Davis said. “He’s a heck of a pitcher, and I respect him 100 percent, so I just wanted to go out there and pitch my best. I’m just excited we won.”

In the bottom of the sixth with the game still scoreless, Corey Cavalier singled to left to get things rolling for the Wildcats. Jesse Lee then reached on an error, and Cavalier advanced to second. Davis grounded out to the second baseman, moving Cavalier to third and Lee to second. The next batter, Jayke Saiani, walked to load the bases with designated hitter Cobe Daugherty coming up.

Homer-Center coach Scott Bauer had a hunch, though, to instead bat first baseman Austin Perry, who was only playing the field due to an injury.

During Perry’s at-bat, Cavalier scored from third on a passed ball, and two pitches later, Perry drilled a single to right to score Lee and Saiani, giving the Wildcats a 3-0 advantage.

“He told me he was good to go after batting practice, but we already had the lineup made,” Bauer said. “I don’t know, really. It was one of those things that you have a hunch, and you go with it, and you live by it. And it worked out. Austin is a competitive person. He wanted to be in there, and he got the job done.”

Davis struck out the side in the top of the seventh to seal the deal.

Bauer said it was a no-brainer for him to start Davis, his top pitcher, despite it being just the first game of the playoffs.

“The thought process is, you have to win,” Bauer said. “We knew we were going to see Ertter, and our best option to win was with Nate on the mound. They had our undivided attention. We weren’t taking them lightly just because of their record. They played a lot of good teams, and he’s pretty good. We typically don’t save people for anything. When our best guys are available, we go with them.”

Schenk had every reason to be pleased with Ertter in defeat.

“He gave up all three runs in the sixth, but he pitched a great game, and the three runs were all unearned because of errors,” Schenk said.

Jake Zazvrskey and Mason Beiswenger each had a hit for the Huskies, who finished their season with a 4-12 record out of the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference.

Homer-Center finished with three errors, and Bishop Carroll committed two.

Saiani went 2-for-2 for the Wildcats, who won their second straight Heritage Conference championship last week.

Homer-Center will now take on fourth-seeded Claysburg-Kimmel in the semifinals on Friday.

“I definitely feel like we got effort,” Schenk said. “I’m very proud of how our kids played. They battled the whole game.”

BISHOP CARROLL (0): Dumm lf 300, Gottshall 2b 300, Ertter p 200, Zazvrskey ss 301, Muriceak 3b 300, Beiswenger cf 301, Lee rf 300, Becquet c 300, Gomish 1b 200, Totals–25-0-2.

HOMER-CENTER (3): Rankin cf 200, Sunday ss 100, Cavalier 2b 311, Lee 3b 310, Davis p 200, Saiani rf 212, Daugherty dh 200, Perry 1b 101, Alcon c 200, Orsargos lf 3-00, Totals–21-3-4.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Bishop Carroll 000 000 0 — 0 2 2

Homer-Center 000 003 X — 3 4 3

E–Zazvrskey, Gottshall, Sunday 2, Davis. RBI–Perry 2. WP–Davis. LP–Ertter. SO–Ertter 7, Davis 10. BB–Ertter 3, Davis 1.

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