Conemaugh Township pounds Rockwood in 5-1A baseball semifinal

DAVIDSVILLE – After bouncing back from a late-season slump, Conemaugh Township’s offense was clicking from the top to the bottom of the lineup in Thursday’s District 5 Class 1A baseball semifinal playoff game as the Indians racked up 13 hits to breeze past visiting Rockwood 13-2 in five innings.

“We were pleased with the way the guys swung the bats today,” said Conemaugh Township coach Sam Zambanini, whose top-seeded club will face second-seeded Southern Fulton for the district crown next Wednesday at a site to be determined.

“We had a little lull in the end of the regular season and the Heritage championship, but they’ve come alive in the district playoffs, and that’s a great time for that to happen."

The Indians (19-4) have tallied 28 runs in their past two contests, compared to a combined total of three in the two games prior.

The top two hitters in the Indians’ batting order went a combined 7-for-7 at the plate to set the tone for the offense. Sophomore second baseman D.J. Bambino finished 4-for-4, scored twice and drove in a run.

“We’ve been in kind of a slump, so it helps when I can get on as the leadoff hitter and get things rolling for the rest of the order,” said Bambino.

Senior first baseman Larry Weaver had three hits in three trips to the plate, while scoring three runs and driving in two.

That set the table for cleanup hitter Colin Dinyar, as the sophomore third baseman finished 3-for-3 with a double and five RBIs.

“I haven’t been hitting lately, so I switched up my batting stance. I got a lot of curveballs today and put them the other way,” said Dinyar.

Rockwood closed out an 8-13 season.

“We got down early and had a couple of mistakes,” Rockets coach Steve Barto said.

“Coach Zambanini is a class act, and his team is the same way. Just a great group of guys that play the game the right way. We had a rough day, but we’ll bounce back next year.”

Center fielder Carson Brown had two of Rockwood’s four hits on the day.

Conemaugh Township took command early with three runs in each of the first two innings. After the Rockets were retired in order to start the game, a leadoff single by Bambino was followed by a Weaver double.

Zack Petree’s run-scoring groundout put the Indians on the board, and Dinyar followed with an RBI single to right. Dinyar later came home on a throwing error to make it 3-0.

After Kaden Valentine’s double to lead off the bottom of the second, Bambino’s one-out single plated the next Conemaugh Township run. Dinyar’s two-out, two-run double subsequently opened up a six-run advantage.

The Rockets tried to chip away in the top of the fourth. Brown led off with a single, and one out later Nathan Show was hit by a pitch. Conner Handwerk then lined a single to center that drove in Brown and moved Show to third.

Davis Breuning’s sacrifice fly pulled Rockwood within 6-2, but the Indians put things away with seven runs in the bottom of the frame.

Conemaugh Township sent twelve batters to the plate in the inning, which was highlighted by two-run singles from Dinyar and Valentine. The Indians were also aided by three Rockwood errors.

Zambanini will be looking to earn the 10th district title as he closes out his illustrious career with the Indians.

“It should be a great championship game and we look forward to the challenge,” Zambanini said.