Nathan Neiderhiser has had a challenging senior season, but the Bishop McCort right fielder/pitcher is currently on the comeback trail.
Neiderhiser threw two innings in relief of Crimson Crushers’ ace Brad Coleman on Monday as the District 6 champions shut out Eisenhower 5-0 in a PIAA Class A first-round contest at Hollidaysburg Senior High.
Bishop McCort will play Cranberry, a 2-1 winner over California, on Thursday at a site and time to be determined.
“I’ve only pitched one inning before today so this was really important for me to help me with my confidence,” said Neiderhiser, who also hit a triple and scored a run for Bishop McCort. “Hitting the triple helped the team get off to a quick start and we needed that to build our confidence.
“I was injured at the beginning of the season and then I was sick and out for about seven games so this lets me know that I’m getting back to where I want to be both on the mound and at the plate.”
Coleman cruised through the first five innings against the Knights, throwing just 68 pitches, striking out 10 with no walks and giving up just one hit, a single to sophomore pitcher Casey Vincent in the fourth. Vincent stole second but that was all the farther the District 10 champions were able to advance a runner.
“I think my curveball was working today,” Coleman said. “I was able to get ahead in the count, which I noticed I was able to set them up with the fast ball or something outside to keep them off balance. I think that was definitely what was helping a lot.”
Bishop McCort (17-7) jumped on Vincent from the opening pitch, putting three runs on the board in the first. Nemo Trexler led off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Coleman’s single to left scored Trexler and Neiderhiser’s triple brought home Coleman’s courtesy runner Justin Vardian.
A groundout allowed Neiderhiser to come home and put the Crimson Crushers ahead 3-0 and firmly in control.
“When you are able to get ahead like we did with three runs in the first inning, that’s huge,” Coleman said. “We knew coming in that this kid (Vincent) had some speed and some curveballs. I think that was the best thing we could do was get into his head and quiet the other guys down a little bit.”
The Crushers tacked on a run in the third as Coleman reached base on an error by Eisenhower center fielder Shane Arford and went to second on the throw in. Vardian, who again came in to run for Coleman, went to third on a sacrifice fly to center by Neiderhiser and came home on an Alex Sobecky single.
Another Knights (9-8) error in the sixth allowed Ethan Neiderhiser to reach base. Pinch runner Logan Wade was able to steal second and was sacrificed to third by Nick Gjurich. Jeremy Adam’s sacrifice fly to left plated Wade.
Casey Vincent limited the Crushers to just five hits with five strikeouts, one walk and one hit batsman.
“If we’re going to talk honestly here, we were the ones with the four-hour drive and they only had to come 20 minutes,” Eisenhower coach Cody Vincent said. “I think that set us back at the beginning and today that’s all they (Bishop McCort) needed.”
Crushers coach Chris Pfeil thought it was a solid start in the PIAA playoffs for his team.
“The guys wanted to come out and get the job done for us today,” Pfeil said. “Brad pitched another strong game for us and we were pleased that Nathan was able to come in and give us a couple strong innings.”
Coleman, one of eight seniors in the Crushers’ starting rotation, said he and his teammates feel they have unfinished business.
“I was talking coming down on the bus that getting this first win is huge,” Coleman said. “It really gets our confidence up and helps with every aspect of the game, fielding, pitching and hitting. We are two games away from the state championship and three from winning it. I think working hard all season has really paid off. Last year we fell short of our expectations and this year we are looking to win another state championship.”
Cory Isenberg is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/CoryIsenbergTD.