BG shut down by Laurel
CRESSON — A very successful and very special 2019 baseball season came to an end for the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School Marauders late Monday afternoon.
After winning the District 6 Class 2A championshp last week, the Marauders lost a pitchers’ battle, 2-0 to WPIAL third-place finisher Laurel, 2-0, in the first round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs at the Mount Aloysius College baseball field.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Austin Lewis was outstanding for BG, tossing a complete game, striking out eight batters, allowing just four hits, and only two seventh-inning runs.
Laurel’s pitching combo of junior right-hander Will Shaffer and sophomore righty Landin Esposito was even better, though, with Shaffer throwing six scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and striking out 10, and Esposito hurling a scoreless seventh.
Laurel (13-7) advanced to the PIAA quarterfinal round against WPIAL champion Seton LaSalle — a 9-1 winner Monday over District 10’s Lakeview — on Thursday afternoon. BG wrapped up a 14-6 season in which the Marauders surprised some folks, including first-year head coach Tommy Williams.
“It was beyond expectations,” Williams said. “We had lost nine seniors from last year’s team, and with the amount of kids we lost and the talent that we lost, we weren’t expecting a District 6 championship. We knew that we would have to rely on pitching and defense this year, and our pitchers threw a lot of strikes, and our defense was outstanding all year.”
After both Lewis and Shaffer worked five scoreless and hitless innings, Laurel finally broke through in the top of the seventh with two runs to claim the victory.
Freshman shortstop Luke McCoy’s one-out single to left-center field started the rally, and sophomore center fielder Robert Herr found the gap with a double to deep left-center field that scored McCoy with the first run of the game.
“I hit a fast ball outside,” Herr said. “I thought at first that it was going to go right to somebody, but it found the gap.”
One out later, Esposito followed with a double to the right-center gap that scored Herr and gave Laurel a 2-0 lead.
On a day in which Shaffer was dominant for six innings and Esposito held BG at bay in the seventh, the two runs were enough for Laurel.
“I knew that I would have to go out there and shut them down, especially pitching against a good pitcher (Lewis) on the other side,” said Shaffer, who threw 95 pitches in six innings. “They started to hit me, and I was getting a little wild with my pitches. I knew that Landin Esposito could come in and shut them down the rest of the game.”
Esposito yielded singles to Lewis and second baseman Michael Boston in the bottom of the seventh inning, but got shortstop Danny Carrieri to hit a game-ending groundout.
“We knew coming in that they were a very good team,” Laurel coach Todd Fennick said of BG. “We knew that it would be a one-run game, and Austin Lewis kept us off-balance. But my team doesn’t quit, and we were going to play hard until the last out. We didn’t hit until the seventh inning, but we got the hits right when we needed them.”
Laurel also got the pitching that it needed from Shaffer and Esposito.
“He’s our number one pitcher,” Fennick said of the fireballing Shaffer. “He’s been our lead pitcher in all our playoff games. He’s solid, he has confidence, and he has good velocity and good control.”
Nonetheless, when Shaffer started to wear down a bit after coming within earshot of the PIAA’s 105-pitch limit for games, Fennick knew that Esposito was capable.
“We do what is best for the team in that situation, and it was time to go to a reliever,” Fennick said. “I have complete confidence in Landin, and I don’t hesitate to put him out there.”
Lewis, who threw 98 pitches in seven innings, deserved a better fate.
“He’s been great all season long,” Williams said of Lewis. “We’ve got him for two more years, and he’s going to be good.”
The Marauders had a scoring chance in the sixth inning, when Carrieri singled and moved to second after Shaffer issued a one-out walk to third baseman Ben Dombrosky. But Shaffer bore down and struck out catcher Danny Potopa and got first baseman Max Swineford to pop out to end the threat.
BG has five players returning next year, and Williams is optimistic about the 2020 season.
“We lose seven seniors, but we have five returnees, and with the mixture of junior varsity kids and a couple from the junior high that will be coming up, we should put a winning ballclub out there next year,” Williams said. “For my first year this season, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of kids.”
LAUREL (2): Giddings rf 200, Ayres 1b 000, Pasquarello dh 201, Wade c 200, Gibson cr 000, Stewart 3b 300, Shaffer p-2b 300, McCoy ss 311, Herr cf 311, Derosa lf 300, Esposito 2b-p 301, Fell cr 000. Totals –24-2-4.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (0): Carrieri ss 301, Reighard cf 300, Dombrosky 3b 200, Potopa c 300, Swineford 1b 301, Lewis p 301, McCall lf 300, Homan rf 200, Boston 2b 301. Totals — 25-0-4.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Laurel 000 000 2–2 4 0
Bishop Guilfoyle 000 000 0–0 4 1
E–Swineford. 2B–Herr, Esposito. RBI–Herr, Esposito. SB–Pasquarello. SAC–Pasquarello. HBP–Giddings, by Lewis. LOB–Bishop Guilfoyle 7, Laurel 5.
Laurel: Shaffer (W) 6IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 10 SO, 3BB; Esposito (SV) 1IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 1SO, 0BB.
Bishop Guilfoyle: Lewis (L), 7IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 8SO, 2BB.
Umpires: Steve Oakes (plate); Larry Stitt (1B); Jim Cushion (2B); John Garritano (3B).
Time of game: 1:32.
Records: Laurel (13-7); Bishop Guilfoyle (14-6).