PIAA BASEBALL: Scranton Prep comeback falls short against Oley Valley

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Jun. 11—CENTER VALLEY — Thursday's PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal game was a microcosm of Scranton Prep's season.

Down early, rally late.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, they ran out of time.

District 3 champion Oley Valley jumped out to a five-run lead in the first two innings, then withstood a comeback bid by Scranton Prep to notch an 8-6 victory at Weiland Park Butz Field on the campus of DeSales University.

The Lynx (20-5) pounded out 14 hits with Garet Blankenbiller, Eddie Standhardt and Paul Petersen collecting three hits each. Blankenbiller drove in three runs and also was the winning pitcher, allowing four runs and six hits in five innings and 98 pitches.

Oley Valley advances to Monday's semifinals against District 2 champion Lake-Lehman, which blanked Trinity, 2-0.

Rocco Valvano, Brian Walsh and Jacob Dennis each had two hits for District 2 runner-up Scranton Prep (7-13).

"Giving up those runs early hurt," Scranton Prep coach Mark Seitzinger said. "We had a couple of mistakes and they took advantage of them. It seemed like everything we threw, they hit."

After starting the season 0-7 and 1-10, Scranton Prep won six of eight games to reach the state quarterfinals. The formula for the Cavaliers' success was jumping out to a lead in the top of the first inning and playing from ahead.

They had a chance to do that Thursday, putting runners on first and third with two outs in the top of the first. But Ethan Muha was caught stealing to end the threat.

"I sent Muha on that play hoping he might get into a rundown and maybe steal a run that inning," Seitzinger said. "My thought was if he gets out, we still have our five-hitter leading off (the second). Yeah, not scoring in the first inning hurt. That would have helped a lot."

Especially when Oley Valley sent 10 batters to the plate against Scranton Prep starter Luca Dennis in the bottom of the first and scored four times, thanks to a two-run double by Blankenbiller and a two-run single by Luke McDonald.

Singles by Evan Solley and Blankenbiller in the second inning chased Luca Dennis. Nick Cafarella relieved and was greeted by an RBI double from Petersen to make it 5-0.

"Last game, we didn't have a hit until the fifth inning," Oley Valley coach Nate Reed said. "So even if we only scored one run I would have been excited. But jumping out to a big lead, that always helps."

After that, however, Cafarella did a tremendous job holding Oley Valley in check the rest of the way to keep Scranton Prep in the game. He allowed three runs and seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings and 78 pitches.

"My attitude is to always come in and throw strikes. That's it," Cafarella said. "I trust my teammates behind me to make plays, so I just come in, pound the zone and get outs."

Scranton Prep got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third inning on a dropped fly ball, but Oley Valley extended its lead to 7-1 in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Blankenbiller and a wild pitch.

But the Cavaliers kept battling against Blankenbiller, driving up his pitch count.

In the top of the fifth, Jacob Dennis led off with a single, Paddy Grady walked and Walsh singled to load the bases with one out. After a wild pitch scored Jacob Dennis, Sorensen delivered a two-run single to cut the deficit to 7-4.

The rally ended, however, when Mike Golay hit a line drive right at second baseman McDonald, who stepped on the base for an inning-ending double play.

Standhardt's two-out RBI single in the bottom of the fifth gave Oley Valley an 8-4 lead. But in the top of the sixth Scranton Prep again fought back, this time against Petersen, who relieved Blankenbiller.

With two outs, Jacob Dennis singled and Grady and Rocco Valvano walked to load the bases. Walsh jumped on the first pitch he saw and lined it to right field for a two-run single, pulling the Cavaliers within 8-6.

"I was sitting fastball for that at-bat, just trying to poke something to get us a run or two there," Walsh said. "I just happened to meet it well and pull it between second and first."

This rally, however, again had a hard-luck ending when Sorensen lined a pitch right to Blankenbiller at third base for the final out.

"We had rallies going," Seitzinger said. "We just needed one more hit. But we put a lot of pressure on them."

Petersen then retired Scranton Prep in order in the top of the seventh to seal the victory.

"We stayed up in the dugout, even when we got down, 5-0," Walsh said. "I think we did a pretty good job of working back as a team, stringing together some hits. We made them work as much as we could. We just fell short."

Oley Valley 8, Scranton Prep 6

Scranton Prep 001 032 0 — 6

Oley Valley 410 210 x — 8

WP: Garet Blankenbiller 5IP, 6H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 4SO

LP: Luca Dennis 1.1IP, 7H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 0SO

2B: Garet Blankenbiller (OV), Paul Petersen (OV).

Scranton Prep Oley Valley

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Valvano c 4 0 2 0 Stndhrdt 1b 4 2 3 1

Ranieli cr 0 1 0 0 Solley c 3 1 1 0

Walsh rf 4 1 2 2 Reifsnyder 3b 2 2 1 0

Sorensen ss 4 0 1 2 Myford 1b 0 0 0 0

Muha 1b 3 0 1 0 Blnknbller p 4 0 3 3

Golay dh 3 0 0 0 Yerger cr 0 0 0 0

LDennis p 0 0 0 0 Petersen ss/p 4 1 3 1

Cafarella p 0 0 0 0 McDonald 2b 4 1 1 0

Valvano 3b 4 0 0 0 Vaccaro lf 3 1 1 0

Gianello lf 3 0 0 0 McMullen rf 2 0 1 2

JDennis 2b 3 2 2 0 Knowles cf 1 0 0 0

Grady cf 0 2 0 0 Evans ph 1 0 0 0

Totals 28 6 8 4 Totals 28 8 14 7

Scranton Prep 001 032 0 — 6

Oley Valley 410 210 x — 8

2B: Garet Blankenbiller (OV), Paul Petersen (OV).

Scranton Prep IP H R ER BB SO

LDennis, LP 1.1 7 5 5 2 0

Cafarella 4.2 7 3 3 1 4

Oley Valley IP H R ER BB SO

Blankenbiller, WP 5 6 4 3 2 4

Petersen 2 2 2 2 2 2

Pitches: SP: L.Dennis 49, Cafarella 78; OV: Blankenbiller 98, Peterson 38.

Records: SP 7-13, OV 20-5.

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