Play at the plate costly for Ridge in defeat

SOMERSET — In close, hard-fought games, scoring opportunities that are cashed in and scoring opportunities that are thwarted often play equally prominent roles in the outcome.

That was the case Tuesday afternoon in the District 5-8-9 Class 3A subregional championship game on the Somerset Area High School baseball field, as Moniteau carved out a 2-1 victory over Chestnut Ridge by scoring the game-winning run in the top of the seventh inning after cutting off a potential go-ahead Ridge scoring chance in the bottom of the sixth inning.

With the score tied, 1-1 in the top of the seventh inning, junior Hunter Fitzingo doubled to left field against Ridge relief pitcher Mason McVicker and scored the go-ahead run when senior center fielder Jake Jewart dumped a single to left-center.

Ridge saw an opportunity to take the lead go by the wayside in the bottom of the sixth inning when right fielder Justin McCoy, who had topped an infield single, was thrown out at the plate by right fielder Brice Williams while trying to score all the way from first base on a throwing error by Moniteau third baseman Gage Neal. Catcher Wyatt Geibel applied the tag as McCoy attempted to hurdle over him.

The two turns of events proved pivotal.

“That was a great throw by Brice Williams and a great tag by Wyatt Geibel,” Moniteau coach Ross Martin said. “It was huge from a momentum standpoint for us.”

It became especially so when Jewart came up with his big game-winning hit in the seventh inning. West Virginia University-bound standout right-handed pitcher Phillip Dull threw an outstanding game for Ridge, striking out 11 batters in 6.2 innings before reaching the PIAA’s 100-pitch limit in the seventh inning.

McVicker, another right-hander, was summoned on in relief, and greeted by Fitzingo’s double and Jewart’s single.

“It was a fast ball,” Jewart said of the pitch that he hit for the game-winning hit. “I didn’t square it up, but I knew I got enough of it to get it over the shortstop’s head and in front of the outfielder.”

In a game in which Ridge managed only three singles — two of them infield hits — off Fitzingo and reliever Chance Nagy — two runs were enough to win.

“We just didn’t generate a lot of offense today,” said Ridge coach Joe Perez, whose team wrapped up a 13-5 season.

“That’s a good team over there,” Perez said of Moniteau. “Basically, they got a couple (key) hits and won, 2-1.”

The play in the bottom of the sixth inning was pivotal. With McCoy on first base and two outs, Ridge first baseman Jacob Mowry grounded to third baseman Neal against reliever Nagy. Neal’s throw was errant and went past first base and down the right field line. Williams retrieved the ball in short right field, and threw to catcher Geibel in plenty of time to beat McCoy, who was attempting to score.

On a day in which Ridge generated very little with the bats, Perez said that sending McCoy home was a risk that he felt was worth taking.

“I was just trying to make a play when I sent Juddy home,” Perez said of McCoy. “Their kid (Williams) made an awesome throw. It was a terrific play.”

Moniteau — which will advance to the PIAA Class 3A state tournament next week with a 16-5 record — opened the scoring in the top of the third inning with an unearned run against Dull. Jewart doubled with two outs and came home when second baseman Nick Sosigian reached on a Ridge error.

Ridge tied the score in the bottom of the fourth inning with an unearned run against Fitzingo.

Noah Dillow reached on a one-out fielder’s choice, was bunted up to second by McVicker, and scored when McCoy reached on a Moniteau throwing error.

“This was a great team effort,” Martin said his team’s victory. “Our team played hard together. We spent a lot of time working hard in the gym and on the field, and it’s nice to get the results.”

Ridge coach Perez also had praise for his players.

“The players worked hard, and my coaching staff worked even harder,” Perez said. “We fell short of our ultimate goal, which was to win a state championship, but it was a successful season.”

MONITEAU (2): Fitzingo p-ss 412, DeMatteis cr-p 000, Jewart cf 412, Nick Sosigian 2b 401, Geibel c 300, McFadden 1b 000, Lominski dh 301, Nathan Sosigian ss 200, Neal 3b 301, Williams rf 300, Nagy lf-p 300. Totals — 29-2-7.

CHESTNUT RIDGE (1): Harbaugh cf 300, D. Weaver lf 200, Dull p-ss 200, Diehl c 301, Frazier ss-3b 000, Dillow dh 310, McVicker 3b-p 200, McCoy rf 302, Mowry 1b 300, J. Weaver 2b 300. Totals — 24-1-3.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Moniteau 001 000 1–2 7 4

Chestnut Ridge 000 100 0–1 3 2

E–Geibel, McFadden, Nathan Sossigian, Neal, J. Weaver, Frazier. 2B–Fitzingo, Jewart. RBI–Jewart. SAC–McVicker, D. Weaver. SB–N. Sossigian, D. Weaver. HBP–D. Weaver by Fitzingo. LOB–Moniteau 7, Chestnut Ridge 7.

Records: Moniteau (16-5); Chestnut Ridge (13-5).

PITCHING

Moniteau: Fitzingo 5.2 IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 1BB, 6SO; Nagy (W) 1.1 IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1SO.

Chestnut Ridge: Dull 6.2 IP, 5H, 1R, 0ER, 1BB, 11SO; McVicker (L) 1/3 IP; 2H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 1SO.

WP–Dull.

Umpires: Herb Long (plate); Gary Sams (first base); Ron Beachley (second base); Joe Thompson (third base).

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