McMURRAY – Peters Township High School senior right-handed pitcher Tyler Schmidt is not afraid of pressure.
Schmidt, who is one of the Indians’ top relief pitchers, was put to the test Friday when the Indians trailed by five runs to Canon-McMillan in the third inning with nobody out and runners on first and second base.
When the senior entered the game, Peters Township head coach Joe Maize placed the ball in Schmidt’s glove and said three words: “Shut them down.”
Schmidt struck out 10 batters in five innings and the Indians scored eight unanswered runs to defeat the Big Macs, 9-6, at Peterswood Park in a Section 5-AAAA game.
“I love coming into the game in a situation like that,” Schmidt said. “I just wanted to get out of trouble so we could start getting some hits.”
Canon-McMillan (5-4, 11-5) took the lead on a five-hit, five-run third inning that started with a walk and four consecutive singles. Sophomore Tanner Piechnick, senior Zach Pollack, senior Buzz Boggio and senior Trevor Schreckengost collected RBI during the inning before Indians senior starting pitcher Max Augenstein was relieved by Schmidt.
Schmidt, who was mostly using his fastball to keep the Big Macs’ offense silent, ended the inning and collected five straight strikeouts. He only allowed one hit in five innings to give Peters Township (6-3, 10-5) a shot at redemption.
The Indians took advantage in the fourth inning when junior left fielder Ethan Anderson reached on a leadoff single, senior right fielder Mitch Bianco reached on an error and senior catcher Jack Bittel’s bunt single loaded the bases.
Phil Pisacrcik’s two-run single pulled Peters Township to within three, and Frank Jezioro added an RBI-single, and a throwing error by Pollack allowed the Indians to score two runs to tie the game.
“We haven’t had a big game like this in quite a while at Peters,” Maize said. “For our guys to not put their tails between their legs, you have to give them credit.”
Peters Township took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning on three-straight two-out single and Jezioro’s RBI single gave the Indians a one-run advantage. Thanks to Schmidt, it’s all they would need. Peters Township added two runs in the sixth on a two-run double by junior third baseman Kyle Lewis and Schmidt struck out two batters in the seventh to end the game.
“The key to this game was Tyler Schmidt,” Maize said. “I gave him the ball and told him to shut them down. He took control and when his number got called, he wanted the baseball. He always does in those situations and he deserves this win.”
Canon-McMillan had a shot to rally in the top of the sixth when it loaded the bases with two outs, but Schmidt forced Pollack to groundout to end the inning. While the Big Macs only left seven runners on base in the loss, it was the second straight night that mental mistakes and missed opportunities cost them a section game.
“We had a nice inning, but they took advantage of the things we didn’t do well,” Canon-McMillan head coach Frank Zebrasky said. “(Schmidt) was absolutely a factor in that. He did a marvelous job, and he always does when we face him.”
The victory clinches a berth in the WPIAL playoffs for Peters Township while the Big Macs will need to defeat Bethel Park today to stay alive. Regardless of where the Indians sit in the playoffs, or if a lengthy run does not occur, Schmidt is excited to get his first taste of postseason baseball after he pitched for the junior varsity squad for the past three years.
“It will be my first time in the playoffs and I know it’s going to be something special with this group of guys,” Schmidt said. “A win like this definitely helps with our confidence. We know what we are capable of.”