Canon-McMillan senior pitcher Kevin Rush was not sure if he’d ever play baseball again.
An accomplished golfer who is planning to walk on at Penn State, Rush did not suit up for the Big Macs’ baseball team as a junior. After deciding to focus on tournaments and honing his short game, baseball was put on the back burner.
Luckily for Canon-McMillan, Rush decided to give baseball one last try. The left-handed starting pitcher struck out three and allowed just one run on five hits to lead the Big Macs past Trinity, 4-1, in a non-section game Monday at Consol Energy Park.
“Taking that year off paid off for me,” Rush said. “I love being on the mound. I started one other game this season and pitched against Peters, but I was more nervous for this one. Everyone talks about how big (Consol) is, and it’s just a great atmosphere.”
It did not take long for his teammates to give Rush a boost.
Canon-McMillan (9-3) struck early when junior right fielder Jared Beach hit a deep fly ball to right field that hit off the bottom of the wall in the top of the first inning. Beach advanced to third for a two-out triple. On the following at-bat, sophomore designated hitter Tanner Piechnick worked the count to 3-2 before a breaking ball got past Hillers junior catcher Nathan McIlvaine to score Beach and give the Big Macs a 1-0 lead.
Beach crossed home plate one more time when he hit a single and stole two bases in the top of the third. Again, on a full count, Beach scored on a wild pitch to give Canon-McMillan 2-0 lead.
The Big Macs were able to hold onto the lead with the help of their defense and Rush’s left arm. Canon-McMillan turned two double plays and forced Trinity (4-7) to strand nine runners.
“We have to be the most snake-bitten team in the WPIAL,” Trinity head coach Scott Henson said. “We had guys on base and had some well hit balls right to their defenders. I’m proud of the way this group has come together. It’s a tough loss, but we had some nice pitching against a great offensive team.”
Canon-McMillan made it a 3-0 game in the top of the fourth inning when senior catcher Buzz Boggio worked the count to three balls and one strike before hitting a fastball over the left-field fence for a solo home run.
Boggio, who hit his first home run of the season in last week’s loss to Peters Township, has focused on making adjustments at the plate. After he drew the third ball of the at-bat, Big Macs assistant coach Dan DeVitis yelled out to Boggio to stop leaning forward so much.
The senior heeded the advice by staying back on the next pitch, a fastball he drilled out.
“I was in a huge slump before that home run against Peters Township and I’ve got to keep it rolling,” Boggio said. “We’ve got a couple of big section games coming up, and I want to keep hitting like this.”
Trinity prevented the shutout in the fifth inning when Evan McDaniel doubled and later scored on an error. The Big Macs added an insurance run in the seventh, when junior left fielder Chandler Palyas scored on a fielder’s choice.
“We made some nice plays in the field that really helped our pitchers,” Canon-McMillan head coach Frank Zebrasky said. “Kevin Rush had another superb outing, and we certainly needed it.”