Keystone Oaks looks to recover from South Park loss

Published May 21, 2013 at 11:07 pm (Updated May 21, 2013 at 11:07 pm)

After falling to undefeated South Park, 1-0, in a WPIAL Class AAA baseball semifinal playoff game at Boyce-Mayview Field in Upper St. Clair, Keystone Oaks (17-5) looks to finish third in the district when the Eagles battle West Allegheny (17-6) in a consolation contest set for next week at Washington and Jefferson Field. A win would qualify KO for the PIAA tournament for the first time in school history.

“There is still an opportunity for us,” said KO manger Scott Crimone. “We’d like to add to our list of accolades. We have another notch to add.”

To date, the 2013 campaign has featured a section banner and KO’s first playoff appearance in nine years.

“So far, we are having the best season ever at KO and this the farthest a team has gone. But, we’ve never been No. 3 in the WPIAL and that’s our next goal.”

Of course, the original objective was a WPIAL title but the other Eagles eradicated that notion when they shut down KO.

Randy Dobnak hurled four hitless frames before Nick Riggle beat out a infield single over the mound. Though John Beveridge sacrificed him to second and Ben Canty moved him to third on a fly out, Dobnak fanned his eighth batter before yielding to Jake Bywalski in the sixth. After Beveridge solidly hit a single with two out in the seventh, Nick Yobbi replaced Bylwalski and recorded the final out of the game.

Meanwhile, Jared Skolnicki proved all KO needed on the mound. The senior struck out 11, scattered two hits, both in the first frame, and walked one. He hit a batter in the fourth but picked off the runner at first base.

“Jared was outstanding as usual. I’m proud of him,” said Crimone. “I still think he’s the best pitcher in the WPIAL.”

South Park manager Steve Bucci concurred. “Their pitcher is fantastic. We knew we were in for a real battle. He was tremendous. All his pitches were working for him.

“We knew we would not get too many chances against a good pitcher like him,” continued Bucci, who coached Canon-McMillan to a PIAA title in 2008. “We knew hits were going to be at a minimum so when we got an opportunity, we had to cash it in.”

South Park scored the only run it needed in the initial inning. Bywalski led off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. He scored on Yobbi’s base hit.

“We felt like when we could get (a run), we’d take it,” said Bucci of the winning run.

Base runners, let alone runs, were hard to come by for either team. After the first frame, SP managed only two additional base runners. KO, which also was limited to two hits and three walks, advanced only one runner (Riggle) to the hot corner.

“It was a well-played game on each team’s part. They could just as easily been the team standing here advancing as we were,” Bucci said.

“We played even as a team with them and that makes me feel good because that’s the No. 1 team in the WPIAL and No. 1 team in the state,” Crimone said. “If we win our next game and get into the state playoffs, maybe we’ll see them again.”

And while KO features nine seniors on its roster including Skolnicki, Erik Fawcett, Matt Iorio, Ryan Rosato, Brandon Gresh, Andy Hromoko, Ryan Ribeaue, Mitch Cholewinski and Lynden Goehring, the team expects to continue forward with its success.

“This is the best team Keystone Oaks has put out there on the field and I could not have been prouder of my guys,” Crimone said. “We are still in a building process, but I am proud of them.”

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