During last year’s run to the PIAA Class A championship, Bishop McCort baseball ran into a District 9 team in Elk County Catholic in the semifinals.
The Crushers scored five runs in the fifth inning and eight in the sixth, and left with a 17-0 victory.
Bishop McCort coach Chris Pfeil expects this year’s run-in with a District 9 team to be far more competitive.
The Crushers (20-4) face District 9 runner-up Johnsonburg (16-3) in today’s quarterfinal at Rick Kuntz Memorial Field in Punxsutawney. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. That happens to be the site of last year’s semifinal rout.
“At this point, you’re just expecting a tight game,” Bishop McCort coach Chris Pfeil said. “We need to be the team that executes. We’ve had some opportunities lately and left runs on the board. If you’re not executing, you’re not going to win.”
Bishop McCort is coming off an impressive 6-4 first-round victory over previously unbeaten North Star. It marked the Crushers’ 11th consecutive postseason victory.
Johnsonburg, a 5-0 winner over District 7 champion Western Beaver in the first round of the state tournament, is no stranger to postseason success either.
The Rams reached the PIAA Class A boys’ basketball championship. Several of the top players from the basketball team - first-team all-state selection Cole Peterson and third-teamer Cameron Grumley - are key players on the basketball team. Peterson, who pitches and plays shortstop, struck out 14 against Western Beaver.
“They’re a scrappy bunch of players and very athletic. They just have a good group of athletes who are having a couple nice seasons,” Pfeil said.
And it looks like some of that big-game experience gained during the basketball season has carried over.
“That’s why we encourage out kids to be multisport athletes,” Pfeil said. “Every big game you can be in will help you down the road in sports and in life. (Johnsonburg) has that big-game confidence and we feel our group has the same thing.”
Pfeil will start Brad Coleman on the mound. Coleman is 6-2 with 43 strikeouts and a 4.28 ERA in 36 innings. Nathan Neiderhiser (5-1, 71 strikeouts), Zaine Tomkowski (3-0, 0.43 ERA) and Justin Vardian (6-1, 53 strikeouts) are also available.
“We scouted Johnsonburg and feel that (Coleman) matches up the best against them,” Pfeil said. “He’s ready to come in and give us an effective start.”