CANONSBURG – After rallying from a deficit on three occasions, including once in the bottom of the seventh to extend the game to extra innings, Canon-McMillan High School’s baseball team did not have one last comeback in it Monday.
Peters Township, paced by multi-hit games from five different players, defeated the Big Macs, 8-7, in nine innings at McDowell Field.
The win moves Peters Township (4-1, 6-3) into first place in Section 5-AAAA. It was the first loss in league play for Canon-McMillan (2-1, 7-2) and snapped the Big Macs’ four-game winning streak.
The Indians took their final lead in the top of the ninth. Junior Tim Swoope, who went 2-for-4 with three runs and an RBI, hit a leadoff double and stole second base before advancing to third on a passed ball.
Peters Township junior catcher Brett McIntosh was then hit by a pitch on a 3-2 count, and a player who spent seven innings watching from the dugout drove in the game-winning run. Junior Kyle Lewis, who entered the game at shortstop when starter Ryan Tasson was ejected after a collision at home plate, hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Swoope.
Senior pitcher Max Augenstein escaped two runners in scoring position in the bottom half of the inning to secure the Indians’ third-straight section win.
After recording just two hits in the first three innings, Peters Township head coach Joe Maize challenged his team before they returned to the plate in the fourth. Maize was tired of seeing his players swing at balls outside the strike zone.
“We’ve been playing in a lot of close games this season and after watching our first few at-bats, I challenged the kids,” Maize said. “We had to do a better job of putting the ball in play. It was nice to finally see us do that.”
Peters Township found itself in an early hole when Canon-McMillan junior left fielder Chandler Palyas hit a two-run double in the second inning. The Indians responded with a run in the third before the Big Macs answered in the bottom half, when senior catcher Buzz Boggio hit a solo home run to give his team a 3-1 lead. C-M senior right fielder Teagan Piechnick hit a two-run homer over the left-field fence in the fourth inning, but PT’s offense took Maize’s advice and made its move.
Canon-McMillan lost a pair of runs on close calls at home plate. Senior third baseman Trevor Schreckengost was thrown out at home in the second inning. In the sixth, Boggio’s single up the middle had senior Zach Pollack rounding third and heading to home plate when PT center fielder Phil Mary’s throw beat him there.
Both runners were called out, though McIntosh was blocking the plate with his shin to prevent the players from touching the plate. Canon-McMillan coach Frank Zebrasky argued both calls but with no success.
“We have a sturdy lineup,” Zebrasky said. “We had those two close calls at the plate and that’s two runs. These games will always be great rivalries. It was a great high school baseball game, one we would have liked to win.”
The Big Macs tied the score 7-7 in the bottom of the seventh. Senior Dustin Bernardi led off with a walk and sophomore Connor Coleman slapped a single to right field. A suicide-squeeze bunt by Palyas scored Bernardi, and Jared Beach drove in the tying run on a fielder’s choice.
Canon-McMillan could not overcome 13 runners left on base, including two in the bottom of the ninth.
“I told our guys that (Canon-McMillan) would be ready to play,” Maize said. “They are well-coached and very talented. They are a scary offensive baseball team. They can swing the bat one through nine, and this is a big win for us.”