NORTH HUNTINGDON — Carmichaels gamely fought back to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning, only to have Shenango plate the winning run in the bottom of the inning for a 7-6 victory last Tuesday afternoon in the WPIAL Class AA semifinals at Norwin High School.
The Mikes (17-2) played Serra Catholic in the Class AA consolation game Tuesday for seeding in the PIAA playoffs.
The Wildcats (19-2) advanced to the title game against Seton-La Salle.
Shenango’s winning rally in the bottom of the sixth inning began with Tyler Kamerer’s one-out walk. He stole second and came home on Braeden D’Angelo’s sharp single to right field.
The Mikes came out firing with three runs in the top of the first inning.
Losing pitcher Gavin Pratt got things rolling with a long solo home run with one out.
Stush Ferek kept the inning alive with a two-out single. Liam Lohr smacked a long double to right field, and Jacob Fordyce drove home both Mikes with a single.
The Wildcats scored a run without a hit in the bottom of the inning, although three were hit by Pratt pitches. Pratt’s first pitch of the game hit Cre Calabria in the foot.
The three hit-by-pitches and a walk produced a run, but the Mikes avoided a big inning with an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Ferek got the run back with a long home run to left field, giving Carmichaels a 4-1 lead in the top of the third inning.
Shenango sliced into the deficit with two runs in the bottom of the inning. The first scored on a balk and the second was on Shane Cato’s RBI single.
The Wildcats finally got their offense moving in the fourth inning with three runs, knocking out Pratt and bringing in Drake Long.
Kamerer’s long double off the right field fence with two outs scored two runs and gave Shenango a 6-4 lead after four innings.
“They executed better than us. At the midpoint of the game, we lost our composure,” said Carmichaels coach Dickie Krause. “We made too many mistakes against a quality team.
“It was 5-4 and we didn’t make a couple plays. Our bunt defense, that was the biggest mistake.”
The bunt play referred to by Krause happened with Zack Herb on first and Braeden Zeigler bunting with no outs. Zeigler beat the throw and Herb hustled to third base. Krause contested the safe call, but to no avail. The two scored later in the inning on Kamerer’s double.
Long blasted a solo shot with one out in the top of the fifth inning to cut the Mikes’ deficit to 6-5.
Long stranded a runner with three strikeouts in the bottom of the fifth inning, and the Mikes responded by tying the game in the top of the sixth.
Liam Lohr opened the inning with a sharp single to right field and came all the way around the bases to score on Zach Hillsman’s double. Lohr’s head-first slide across the plate avoided the tag by Zeigler.
The Mikes possibly ran themselves out of a couple scoring chances with a runner picked off at second and two at first.
“The base-running mistakes, you can’t make those against a team like that,” lamented Krause. “We had to play clean enough to get there.”
Despite the miscues, the Mikes led for half the game and pulled back into a tie.
“I’m real proud of our kids. They didn’t quit. It was an emotional game,” said Krause.