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PIAA Baseball: Hazleton Area falls in semifinals

Jun. 10—CENTER VALLEY — La Salle had six hits and scored four runs in the second inning of Monday's PIAA Class 6A baseball semifinal game.

Those numbers were more than Hazleton Area had in two previous state playoff games combined.

Hazleton Area, though, clawed back to within a run only to see La Salle's offense to keep producing as the Explorers ended the Cougars' season with a 10-4 victory at DeSales University.

District 12 champion La Salle (23-3) will play for the state championship at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Penn State against either D3 champion Hempfield (20-5) or D1 runner-up Downingtown West (20-5). Those teams played Monday night.

District 2 champion Hazleton Area (21-5) had its season ended in the semifinals for the second time in three years.

LaSalle entered off a 1-0 win over Downingtown East in 15 innings. The Explorers opened the second inning with four consecutive singles, including a two-run single by Andrew Bognasky. Liam Hawley added another two-run single for a 4-0 lead.

"Maybe the baseball gods opened up home plate after you go 15 (innings) without a run," La Salle coach Kyle Werman said. "We have an offense where we try to be balanced, try to compete. We've seen some pretty good arms and the kid they started (Jonas Aponick) was really good, but we were able to put balls in play and there were certainly some balls that found holes and we were rewarded."

Frank Provenzano's single, the second of the inning for La Salle, was one of those rewards. It was a tailor-made double play that would have gone right to shortstop Bryant Diaz. But Diaz went to cover second on a steal.

Hazleton Area battled back with three runs in the fourth to cut the deficit to 4-3, taking advantage of three walks and getting RBI singles from Aponick and Logan Hearity. A balk brought in the other run.

"I was proud of the way our guys battled back," Hazleton Area coach Russ Canzler said. "To go down 4-0 really quick and make it 4-3 and have an opportunity there to tie or take the lead is great. In those types of games, you go down 4-0 against a good team, you think you might not have a chance."

The chance started to slip away when La Salle answered with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Explorers didn't have a hit, but a hit batter and two walks eventually led to runs scoring. One run scored on a wild pitch and two more on fielder's choices.

Hazleton Area scored its final run in the sixth. Logan Hearity doubled with two outs and scored on an error. La Salle answered that run with three as Aimon Chandler, the hero of the 15-inning win, hit a two-run triple and Kevin Schmidt had an RBI single.

Class 6A Semifinals

La Salle 10, Hazleton Area 4

Hazleton Area'AB'R'H'BI

Hearity lf'4'1'2'1

Florentino rf'4'0'0'0

Martoccio 3b'3'0'0'0

Ledger c'3'0'0'0

N.Schmidt cr'0'0'0'0

Higgins 2b'1'1'0'0

R.Schmidt pr'0'0'0'0

Marino dh-p'4'0'1'0

Pesta cr'0'0'0'0

Diaz ss'0'0'0'0

Casterine p'0'0'0'0

Rossi cf'2'1'0'0

Gil Pena ph'1'0'0'0

Aponick ss-p'2'1'2'1

Racho 1b'1'0'0'0

Totals'25'4'5'2

La Salle'AB'R'H'BI

Hawley cf'2'2'1'2

Gannon 2b'1'2'1'0

Chandler 1b'4'1'1'3

Vozzo ss'3'0'0'0

K.Schmidt c'4'0'2'1

Provenzano dh'3'1'1'0

Potter p'0'0'0'0

Cavalcante p'0'0'0'0

McNesby cr-pr-ph'1'1'0'0

Bogansky 3b'3'1'1'2

Murray pr'0'0'0'0

Astolfi lf'3'1'1'1

Nealon rf'1'1'0'0

Totals'25'10'8'9

Hazleton Area'000'301'0 — 4

La Salle'040'303'x — 10

E — Hazleton Area 2, La Salle 1. DP — La Salle 1. LOB — Hazleton Area 9, La Salle 5

2B — Hearity. 3B — Chandler. SB — Chandler, Nealon 2, Hawley, Florentino, CS — Murray. SAC — Higgins, Nealon.

Hazleton Area'IP'H'R'ER'BB'SO

Aponick (L)'1.1'5'4'4'1'1

Marino'4.0'1'5'5'5'2

Casterine'0.2'2'1'1'0'0

La Salle'IP'H'R'ER'BB'SO

Potter'3.1'0'2'2'6'3

Cavalcante (W)'3.2'5'2'1'2'1

HBP — Nealon (by Marino)