Reign delayed: Storm suspends California-Carmichaels title clash

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Mother Nature has kept WPIAL officials busy this spring and Tuesday night was no different during the Class A baseball championship game at Consol Energy Park.


Carmichaels (14-2) and California (19-0) played into the top of the fourth inning with the game tied 1-1 when umpires spotted lightning near the ballpark.


A mandatory 30-minute delay was extended three times because of additional lightning strikes before heavy rain began to fall. Ultimately, the WPIAL decided to suspend the game with one out in the top of the fourth inning until today at 3:30 p.m.


The weather interrupted a pitchers’ duel between Carmichaels senior Brandon Lawless and California senior Josh Luko. The two combined for nine strikeouts and each allowed three hits through three innings.


The Mikes took an early 1-0 lead when senior center fielder Ryan Zalar hit a ground ball to Califronia third baseman Ronnie Baron, who committed a throwing error to advance Zalar to third base. Carmichaels junior catcher Michael Blasinsky hit the third pitch of the next at-bat up the middle to second baseman Michael Luketich. Blasinsky reached on an infield single and drove in Zalar to give the Mikes a 1-0 lead.


Luko rebounded by retiring seven straight batters and California’s offense began to show signs of life.


Trojans senior catcher Jake Columbus led off the top of the third inning with a single to left field and sophomore shortstop Louden Conte sliced the second pitch of the next at-bat down the right-field line for an RBI-triple to tie the score at 1-1.


Luko recorded two strikeouts in the bottom of the third to hold the Mikes’ at one run, and Lawless allowed back-to-back one-out walks in the top of the fourth before the game was suspended.


The Mikes are attempting to win their first WPIAL title since 2008, while California has not won the trophy since 2001.


The continuation of the Class A title matchup will be the first of three championship games at Consol Energy Park today. Baldwin (16-2) and Seneca Valley (9-11) play at 5 p.m. for the Class AAAA title and the main attraction will begin at 8 p.m., when Blackhawk (14-2) faces West Allegheny (17-4) for the Class AAA title. Blackhawk senior left-handed pitcher Brendan McKay will put his 69-inning scoreless streak on the line against the Indians.


McKay, a Louisville recruit and likely an early pick in next month’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, has the third-longest streak in high school baseball history. Blackhawk is trying for its second WPIAL championship in three years.


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