WAYNESBURG — Waynesburg was within striking distance through the first five innings Monday night, but visiting Charleroi squelched any hopes of a late rally with a big seventh inning for an 18-3 road victory in Fayette County American Legion Baseball League play.
Charleroi improves to 3-5 and remains positioned for a regional playoff berth with the win. The top four teams in the standings advance to the tournament, plus a fifth is added if tournament host Uniontown earns one of the berths.
“We have two more games with Belle Vernon. It’s in our hands if we win out,” said Charleroi manager Luke Mollis.
Charleroi sent 14 batters to the plate and scored 10 runs against two Waynesburg pitchers in the top of the seventh inning.
Charleroi manager Luke Mollis held runners, not allowing an extra base, but his squad belted out seven hits and Waynesburg committed three errors.
Plus, two of the outs recorded were out of the ordinary. One was an 8-5 putout on a ball hit to short center field and the other was off a wayward throw that ricocheted off the fence and outside of the dugout for a 7-5-2 out at the plate.
Chad Behrendt, Ashton Ray and Hunter Mamie all had two run-scoring hits in the inning. Keaton Riley and Joe Verscharen drove in a run apiece.
“In a span of 13 innings, we were no-hit. We were struggling,” Charleroi manager Luke Mollis said of the offensive outburst.
Charleroi almost batted around in the top of the second inning to score four runs.
Nico Rongus had a run-scoring single and one run scored on Ashton Ray’s fielder’s choice. Mamie’s sacrifice fly made it 3-0 and the fourth run scored on a passed ball.
The visitors increased the lead to 7-0 with three runs in the top of the fourth inning. Riley and Cantini both had run-scoring singles, and the third run scored on a wild pitch.
Higgins was knocked from the game on Riley’s single. Hudson Pinkavitch entered in relief.
“He got hot and tired, and struggled with the strike zone,” Waynesburg manager Jamie Moore said of Higgins.
Waynesburg pushed back a little with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Trent Stephenson opened with a single and stole second. Hudson Pinkavitch and Trevor Stephenson walked to load the bases.
Higgins grounded out the first base to score Trent Stephenson. Mason Switalski’s shot up the middle was tipped by Lessman, but carried into center field for an RBI single.
Charleroi ended the scoring threat with a double play.
Charleroi extended the lead to 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning on a double steal. Andrew Mackey walked with two outs and moved around to third base on wild pitches.
Riley walked to give the visitors runners on the corners. Riley took off for second base as Mackey waited for the throw. Waynesburg threw through to second base and Mackey sped home for the run.
Lessman was one batter away from a complete-game victory. He was at 104 pitches when John Riley came to the plate, so he was able to finish the at-bat. Riley walked and Lessman exited the game.
Lessman struck out six and walked three.
Behrendt came in relief and ended the game with a strikeout.
“We haven’t used (Lessman) that much. He was dialed in pretty good. He was pretty efficient,” said Mollis.
Waynesburg has four scheduled games this week, so Moore will be pressed to find arms for the schedule.
“We have four games this week. The plan was to use Logan (Higgins) today and again on Friday (against Smithfield-Fairchance). We don’t have a lot (of pitching) in between,” said Moore.
Charleroi’s run total aside, Moore said his squad needs to produce more runs themselves.
“We had a few games this season when we hit the ball real well. If you’re not scoring six, seven runs in this league, you’re not going to win,” said Moore.
Although Waynesburg only has one win to date, Moore said the opposition can expect a top effort from his squad in every game.
“Every time we play we expect to win. The good thing about these kids is they never give up,” praised Moore.