Hillers rally to hold off Uniontown
GREENSBURG – There were plenty of people who played more than casual roles in Trinity High School’s 7-4 victory over Uniontown in the much-delayed first round of the WPIAL Class AAA softball playoffs Monday afternoon.
There was Olivia Gray, who played a fine all-around game. The Hillers’ shortstop awoke a dormant offense with a run-scoring double in the fifth inning and gave Trinity a lead with an RBI triple in the sixth. She also made a spectacular diving catch of a line drive to rob a Uniontown player of a hit early in the game.
There was Trinity’s Madison Hornack, who put down a bunt single in the eighth inning, then stole two bases and scored the eventual game-winning run.
There also was the duo of Katelyn Campbell and Emily Smith, the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters in the Hillers’ lineup, who combined to reach base five times and drive in two runs. It was Smith’s ground ball in the top of the eighth that drove in Hornack.
And from Uniontown’s standpoint, there was the third-base umpire who made a controversial no-catch, trap call on a fly ball that opened the door to Trinity’s two-run fifth inning.
But nobody played a larger role than Trinity pitcher Paige Galentine, who threw 5 1/3 innings of one-hit relief and gave the Hillers time to overcome an early 3-1 deficit.
“She was solid from the start,” Trinity coach Shawn Gray confirmed.
It was a far different Galentine than the pitcher who gave up 10 runs in the Hillers’ loss to South Fayette in the regular-season finale that decided the Section 2 title.
That, however, was two weeks ago, and Galentine had plenty of time to do some effective self-scouting.
“The layoff set my mind straight,” Galentine said. “I had a lot of mental errors that I had made. I was able to rethink my plan and learn to trust my infield.”
In scrimmages leading up to the playoffs, Shawn Gray had liked what he saw of Campbell in the circle and opted to start her at pitcher against Uniontown, though Galentine had pitched 10 games during the regular season.
Uniontown (10-7) scored two runs in the first inning and one in the third to forge a 3-1 lead before Galentine was summoned from right field. She retired the first batter she faced to end the third inning and allowed only one hit over the rest of the game. That hit, a bloop single to right field by Milissa Lucas with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, tied the score at 4-4.
Galentine was a mystery that Uniontown never solved.
“I was getting popups with my screwball and groundouts with my curveball,” Galantine explained. “I liked pitching in relief. There was less pressure. I was able to get a scouting report on Uniontown by watching them bat one time through the order.”
Trinity (11-3) finally got going against Uniontown pitcher Leighlyn Guthrie when Campbell started the top of the fifth with a sinking liner to center field that an umpire ruled was trapped by the Red Raiders’ Trista Crise.
“I was told by the umpire that he saw the ball hit the ground one inch in front of the glove,” Uniontown coach Steve Forsythe said. “We probably get out of that inning if it’s a catch.”
Gray then grounded a one-out double inside the third-base bag to drive in a run. Brooke Beck’s single drove in Gary and tied the score at 3-3.
Before the inning ended, there was an interference call that cost Trinity a baserunner, and a confusing inning-ending play. With the bases loaded and two outs, Hornack pushed a bunt down the third-base line. The throw to the plate was in time for a forceout of Beck, but the home-plate umpire, apparently forgetting it was a force play, called her safe because a tag was not applied.
Uniontown argued, and the third-base umpire ruled on an appeal that Beck was out. Trinity questioned that call and the first-base umpire then ruled Beck was safe and the players were ordered back onto the field. A few seconds later, the plate umpire called Beck out.
“That was a crazy inning,” Shawn Gray said.
Olivia Gray gave Trinity a 4-3 lead in the sixth when she hit a long triple over, then off, the head of Uniontown left fielder Madison Yankulac, which scored Campbell nade made it 4-3.
The Red Raiders took advantage of two Trinity errors in the seventh to force an extra inning, but they left the bases loaded.
Hornack bunted again to open the eighth, and this time it went for a single. After two stolen bases, Campbell reached on an infield single with Hornack remaining at third. Smith followed with a ground ball to shortstop that was played for an error as Hornack scored.
Delaney Elling delivered Trinity’s knockout punch, a two-run single that made it 7-4, sending the Hillers into the quarterfinals today against Thomas Jefferson at 6 p.m. at Calfornia University.
“We were pumped up during warmups, then came out and played a little tight,” Shawn Gray said. “I didn’t see us get the momentum back until the fifth inning.”