Carmichaels ‘out of gas,’ sputters in playoff loss
BRIDGEVILLE – Sometimes a final score is true to the domination one team exhibited over another, and sometimes the score doesn’t reveal how close a game was before getting out of hand late.
The latter scenario was what happened to the Carmichaels baseball team in its WPIAL Class A quarterfinal game against Western Beaver.
A pitchers’ duel through five innings got away from Josh Mundell and the Mikes over the final two innings, and they couldn’t solve Nick Miller, who allowed only two hits to lead Western Beaver to a 6-1 victory Wednesday at Chartiers Valley High School.
“Josh pitched a valiant effort,” said Carmichaels coach Scott Van Sickle. “He ran out of gas on that last one. He told me afterward that he was like the guy from ‘Major League.’ He said, ‘I’ve thrown everything I’ve got at him.’”
Mundell had allowed only two hits and one run through five innings, even escaping a jam in the fifth inning when the Golden Beavers (16-2) put a runner on third with nobody out.
And Mundell almost escaped another jam in the sixth inning.
A single, walk and fielder’s choice led to Van Sickle electing to intentionally walk cleanup hitter Steve Menich to load the bases with one out. Mundell, on a 3-2 pitch, got John Petrosky to strike out looking. But that’s when he ran out of steam, as he proceeded to walk Steve Robison on four pitches to force in a run and give Western Beaver a 2-1 lead.
Van Sickle changed pitchers, but Cody Acon greeted Cory Fuller with a bloop hit behind first base to score two more runs.
In Western Beaver’s half of the seventh inning, two walks set the table for Menich, who drilled a two-run double to put the game out of reach at 6-1. Menich had three RBI.
“We were right where we needed to be, 1-1 after five innings, two outs,” said Van Sickle. “We gave up a walk, go down 2-1, next thing you know, they get a flare.”
Mundell, who has not pitched a great deal this season, went toe to toe with Western Beaver’s ace Miller, who gave up only one hit through the first six innings.
But the Mikes (13-4) had baserunners throughout the game as Miller walked seven batters and hit two others. All Carmichaels could scratch across against Miller, though, came in true Carmichaels fashion – a pair of sacrifice bunts, the latter a squeeze by Ty Cole to score Ryan Zalar in the fourth.
“We got baserunners on, then the kid sneaks in a couple strikes in a row,” said Van Sickle, “and then he throws a devastating curveball to strike a guy out, then he walks another guy. You couldn’t really get in there on any of the pitches, but he beat us, so not much else I can say.”
The loss might have hurt a little bit more, as advancement to the semifinals would’ve meant two cracks for Carmichaels to qualify for the PIAA playoffs, either by reaching the WPIAL championship game or playing in the third-place game.
“It stings no matter when you lose,” said Van Sickle. “This senior group, I’m gonna miss them to death. They’re a great bunch of kids. These guys, they mean a lot to me.”
But Van Sickle was able to maintain his humor a little after the loss.
“I hate this field,” he chuckled. “We lost on this field two years in a row. Hopefully, next year we don’t get placed here, but now that I’ve said that, I’m sure we’ll be here first game.”
Mike Blasinsky had both hits for Carmichaels.