Andrew Sokol’s two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning lifted Belle Vernon past visiting Laurel Highlands, 5-4, in a key Section 3-AAAA baseball game with a roller-coaster finish Tuesday night.
The win puts the Leopards (5-1, 5-2) back alone in first place one day after an 8-1 loss at LH allowed the Mustangs (4-2, 5-3) to pull even in the standings.
Andrew Kostelnik earned the win in relief of starting pitcher Matthew Bamford. The left-hander allowed one run on four hits with a walk in 1 1/3 innings but picked off a pair of LH runners late in the game. Bamford gave up two earned runs with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.
Laurel Highlands trailed 3-2 going into the top of the sixth when Joe Chambers doubled to left on an 0-2 pitch with two outs. Kostelnik relieved Bamford and Mustangs coach Scott DeBerry countered with pinch-hitter Braeden O’Brien who delivered a run-scoring triple to right field to tie it at 3-3.
Kadin Early followed with an RBI infield single to put LH in front, 4-3. Kostelnik picked Early off first to prevent any further damage.
Chambers, who took the loss in relief of starter Carson Broadwater, gave up a lead-off double to Belle Vernon’s Ryan Hamer in the bottom of the sixth. After a strikeout, Zachary Jackson singled Hamer to third but he was thrown out trying to score on Tanner Steeber’s grounder to third baseman Braeden McKnight with catcher Alex McClain making the tag.
Donovan Von Fradenburgh drew a walk to load the bases for Sokol, who lined the next pitch into right field to bring in the tying and go-ahead runs.
McKnight singled to lead off the top of the seventh for the Mustangs but was picked off by Kostelnik. Nick Kumor walked and McClain singled to left to give Laurel Highlands hope but Kostelnik induced a double play grounder to third baseman Seamus Joyce who tapped the bag and threw over to first baseman Sokol to end it.
Sokol was 3 for 3 with two RBIs and Och doubled twice and drove in one run for the Leopards.
McClain singled twice and knocked in a run and McKnight also had two hits for LH.