Riverside takes title in a rout
Not even a traffic accident on Interstate 79 could stop the Riverside baseball team from winning the school’s second WPIAL title.
And while it delayed Riverside’s arrival at Falconi Field in Washington on Tuesday night, nothing was going to stop them, not even a good Greensburg Central Catholic club.
Riverside (22-1) pounded Greensburg Central Catholic, 12-1, in the WPIAL Class AA Championship game, which was stopped in the fifth inning because of the 10-run rule. Both teams advance to the PIAA tournament, which is scheduled to begin Monday.
“This team remembered how disappointed they felt after losing to North Catholic last year,” Riverside coach Dan Oliastro said. “I figured if I get excited about the delay, the kids would get excited. If we acted cool, the players would be cool, and they were fine. They watched a move (The Natural) and came here ready to play.”
Nothing was cool about how Riverside won this contest. The Panthers, who took advantage of three Greensburg Central Catholic errors and other mental mistakes, sizzled like the 90-degree temperatures. They rapped out 10 hits and got a superb pitching performance from senior John Elms. Greensburg Central Catholic pitchers Calvin Buerkle and Mike Verdun were no match for Riverside’s hitters.
Greensburg Central Catholic coach Jack Korpar said before the game that his team needed to play its ‘A’ game to have a chance.
“We could have brought our ‘A plus, plus’ game and we wouldn’t have a chance the way they played,” Korpar said. “They hit the ball and hit anything we threw at them. They’re a great team, the best we’ve faced in the finals.”
This was the third time that Greensburg Central Catholic has lost in the baseball final.
The Centurions (20-2) actually grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Max Suter singled home Nate Raffle, who walked.
Then Riverside took over, scoring three runs in the bottom of the inning. Christian Valeriano had a bad-hop triple that scored Jon Jurinko, and Steve Lowry followed later in the inning with a two-run triple.
“I was a little wild and nervous at the beginning,” Elms said. “But my teammates picked me up with their bats and then I was fine.”
Elms said the delay in getting to the game did not bother the team. “We just did our own things,” he said.
Elms allowed two hits while walking two and striking out seven.
Riverside added four runs in the second inning on four hits. Elms drove in two runs with a single.
The Panthers (22-1) added two more in the third inning. Dave Evans doubled to highlight that inning, then Riverside added three more in the fourth inning to put the game away.
It was the 17th time that Riverside has defeated a team by the 10-run rule.
Lowry finished with two hits and three RBI, while Elms and Valeriano each drove in two runs.
“In the first inning we got a little a bit out of our game, which was unusual,” Oliastro said. “Once we started hitting the ball, we were OK. These kids did not want to come back here and get another silver medal. They remembered last year’s loss and never forgot it.”
Now the returning state champions have their eye on another gold medal.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review sports reporter. You can contact Paul by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .