Big Macs keep cool, advance to WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals
MCKEES ROCKS – Perhaps the Canon-McMillan baseball team owns stock in Pilot pens.
Or the Big Macs enjoy testing every light bulb on the scoreboard.
Whatever the reason, Canon-McMillan games this season have rarely been boring, loaded with hits, runs, lead changes and drama.
This one was no exception.
Three five-run innings, eight errors, 17 hits and 11 walks might’ve stretched out Monday’s WPIAL Class AAAA first-round game against Moon, but the Big Macs, much as they have all season, never flinched during an 11-6 win at Burkett Athletic Complex in Robinson Township.
“We do a lot of mucking and grinding. Just like hockey,” Canon-McMillan coach Frank Zebrasky said. “The puck’s in the corner, we’re just mucking away. If it’s your turn to get it done, it’s your turn to get it done.”
Several Big Macs took turns getting this one done.
Eight of nine starters had a hit, with right fielder Jared Beach and left fielder Connor Coleman getting two apiece.
Every starter scored a run. First baseman Justin Davey, shortstop Teagan Piechnick and catcher Buzz Boggio drove in runs with doubles.
Canon-McMillan (12-7) advanced to the Class AAAA quarterfinals and will play Hempfield – a 2-0 winner over Fox Chapel – Wednesday, site and time to be determined.
Kevin Forrester pitched a complete game, allowing six runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts and three walks. He was OK early, but nearly unhittable late.
Moon coach Dom Santeufemio insisted Forrester threw the best curveball his team has seen all year.
“I had my curveball going really well tonight,” said Forrester, who improved to 7-1. “I was happy with that because on the scouting report, apparently, they struggled with offspeed stuff. I had everything tonight. Feeling really good.”
The first of two five-run innings for Canon-Mac came in the third, after Moon took an early 1-0 lead.
Davey and Piechnick swatted two-run doubles, both down the left-field line, and Forrester scored on a wild pitch.
The advantage didn’t last long, though, as Moon scored five times in the bottom half.
Second baseman Rocci Maue singled to start the rally. The next batter, first baseman Coul Koegel, grounded to first, but instead of taking the sure out, Davey threw wild to second.
Maue eventually scored on a sacrifice fly.
The Big Macs committed a second error, this one by Piechnick, and Koegel scored to make it 5-3. Moon (14-6) tied it with a two-run single from shortstop Josh Bogats and surged ahead, 6-5, when Big Macs third baseman Frank Fortunato spiked a throw short of second base.
In the fifth, the second five-run inning for Canon-McMillan, Moon committed two errors, walked four in a row at one point and allowed another run to score on a wild pitch, as Canon-McMillan turned a 6-5 deficit into a 10-6 lead.
The Big Macs had two hits in the inning, only one of which – a single up the middle by Kildare – brought in a run.
“Both teams really played bad defense, let’s face it,” Santeufemio said. “I’m telling you, the difference was they got the hits and took advantage of our errors. We didn’t take advantage of theirs as much as we could have.”
Canon-Mac tacked on one more run in the sixth. Second baseman Zach Pollack led off with a single. Jake Cadez, making his first appearance of the season, came on to run, and Boggio drove him in with a double to the wall in left.
And why not, really?
By this point, the Big Macs had truly exhausted the number of things that could happen during one baseball game.
“We always said ‘short term memory’ and we always move on to the next play,” Davey said. “So, if we make an error or strike out or something, coach always tells us to make a great play in the field or get a hit. We’re not worried if we’re down; we know we can come back because we’ve done it so many times this year.”