CARMICHAELS — Carmichaels has seen many different players emerge as heroes during its run to four Fayette County Baseball League Championships in its last four years, but two remain a constant on manager Dickie Krause’s squad: Chuck Gasti and Joby Lapkowicz.
The two Carmichaels Area High School graduates that are Krause’s staff during the high school season once again had a hand a Copperheads’ victory, as they won a 9-7 slugfest over Mill Run in Game 3 of the FCBL Championship Series on last Tuesday night at Carmichaels Area High School for a 3-0 sweep in the best-of-five series.
Gasti, who had a two home runs, doubled and knocked in four runs, and Lapkowicz, who had two singles and was the winning pitcher in Game 1, were named Co-MVPs for the championship series.
“They (Gasti and Lapkowicz) are exceptional baseball players,” Krause said. “They took their high school team to the state finals, they both were great college players and have been tremendous county league players. They will lead this team to win and have big hits, and Joby was the star in Game 1.
“I am really proud of Joby and Chuck. I have been around them since they were 15-16-year-old kids. I’ve watched them grow up to be the great men that they are. They coach on my high school baseball staff and are tremendous coaches. They play baseball and they respect the game, and I love that about them. It also helps that they are very good baseball players. I just can’t say enough great things about them.”
“This is my first MVP for the championship series, and Joby is a good person to share it with,” Gasti said. “I am getting married in October and he’s my best man.”
“Chuck and I have been best friends for a long time, so if there is one guy I would want to share a trophy with, it would be him,” Lapkowicz said. “When you are playing back-to-back-to-back games like this, everyone gets a little bit tired and stuff happens.
“Every game so far with Mill Run has been competitive. They are great guys and play the game the right way. When winning gets old, I will be down playing, but I don’t see that happening.”
Carmichaels, who was 5-1 in the FCBL playoffs, finished its season at 21-3, and won its 14th league title overall.
“Every year has something special, and this year, my son got to contribute,” Krause said. “Every year it’s a different group. If you look at the team that won this in 2016, only Joby and Chuck are the only ones from that team. We have to recreate every year. It is very gratifying.”
The Millers (15-9) have been to the championship series the last five years, but haven’t been able to get over the hump in losing to the Copperheads the last four and suffering a setback to Mitch’s Bail Bonds in the ‘15 finals.
“We just can’t seem to get over the hump against those guys,” Mill Run manager Ray Orndorff said. “I don’t know if we’re cursed or what. Maybe it’s the Curse of the Bambino, but give credit to Carmichaels. They are a very solid baseball team and I want to congratulate them.
“I am also proud of our guys. The fellas stayed in the game and fought till the last out, regardless of the score or situation.”
Carmichaels responded to Mill Run’s three-run fifth inning to tie the game at 7 with two runs on three hits in the bottom of the frame.
Brody Bonadio singled up the middle, Lapkowicz had a base hit to right and Bonadio scored on Gasti’s double for an 8-7 lead. Lapkowicz scored on Joel Spishock’s sacrifice fly to left field for a two-run advantage.
Gasti and Lapkowicz batted third and fourth in the lineup, and the two appeared to be trying to top one another each time at-bat.
“Joby and I have known each other since we were five, and it’s always been a competitive relationship,” Gasti said. “We wouldn’t have it any other way. This game was so up and down. I’m glad it worked out in our favor.
“If I said it once, I’ve said it a 1,000 times, these Mill Run guys are great to play. I would love to come and play them every game. They are a good group of guys and you never know what it’s going to be. Even the drive to Mill Run. It’s a beautiful drive and you know it’s going to be a good quality game.”
“We keep pushing each other,” Lapkowicz said. “We all coach at the high school together. Chuck and I were talking about it. We start baseball in January and we are finished playing in July, and start fall ball next month, so it doesn’t end. We wouldn’t have it any other way. What else would I do?”
The Millers had the tying run come up to the plate in the sixth when Cade Warrick walked with one out, but Krause immediately went to the bullpen and brought in Jake Kinsell, who recorded a flyout to right and a strikeout to end the threat. Kinsell sent Mill Run down in order in the seventh for his second save of the series after finishing off Game 2.
“Kinsell would have been in the mix (for series MVP), too, because he had two big saves,” Krause said. “He was lights out. We rolled the dice because Kinsell was starting tomorrow. We had to get this game because you lose this game and you have to go up there.”
The Copperheads took advantage of an error in the first when Lapkowicz reached on a Millers miscue and Gasti hit his first home run to left field for a 2-0 lead.
Mill Run cut the deficit to 2-1 in the second when Nolan Porterfield singled, moved to third when Brady Duricko reached on an error and scored on Jimmy Malone’s groundout to first.
The Millers took a 3-2 advantage in the third when Tanner Orndorff singled and scored on Warrick’s double. Warrick moved to third on Kris Firestone’s single and stole home when courtesy runner Gabe Kemp was caught in a run-down between first and second. Kemp kept himself alive before Warrick sprinted home.
Carmichaels took the lead back in the bottom of the inning with three runs on four hits and benefited from an error for a 5-3 lead.
Spishock and Brant Bonadio hit back-to-back singles before Spishock scored on JP Przybylinski base hit up the middle. Bonadio scored when Darren Krause reached on an error and courtesy runner Josh Coletti, who came out on in relief for the pitching win, scored when Brock Bonadio reached on a fielder’s choice.
Mill Run scored one run in the fourth to cut the deficit to 5-4, but had an opportunity for more as it left the bases loaded.
Duricko singled, Malone reached on an error and Gavin Sikorski walked before Duricko scored on Luke Warrick’s infield single.
Copperheads starting pitcher Joe Sabolek was able to get out of the jam with a strikeout, pop up to first base and groundout to third.
Carmichaels scored two in the bottom of the fourth for a three-run lead when Gasti led off the inning with a home run to left field and Brant Bonadio scored on Darren Krause’s base hit. Przybylinski singled after Bonadio walked.
The Millers tied the game at 7 in the fifth with three runs on one hit and benefited from an error.
Firestone and Porterfield walked before Austin Petraglia singled up the middle to load the bases with nobody out.
Kemp scored on Duricko’s sacrifice fly to right, Malone walked, and with two outs, Porterfield and Petraglia scored when a ball hit by Luke Warrick was misplayed.
“It like a game that was never going to end,” Ray Orndorff said. “They had some mistakes, we had some mistakes, we capitalized on theirs, they capitalized on ours, and they got more runs that us.”