Superb defense leads Bulldogs over Tigers, into D-10 title game

It was a battle of the aces between Meadville and Sharon in Friday's District 10 Class 4A semifinal round.

Meadville's AJ Feleppa and Sharon's Mark Cattron kept the offenses off balance at Allegheny College's Garby Yard. It was Bulldogs who broke the game open in the top of the fifth with two runs en route to a 3-0 win.

After two walks, Cattron earned a strikeout and forced a ground out in the fifth. With Meadville senior and Allegheny College commit Brighton Anderson up to bat, he doubled to left field, scoring Ian Miller and Ryan Reichel. The 'Dogs were poised to add to their lead after consecutive batters were hit by a pitches to load the bases, but Cattron forced a ground out.

The Tigers had a perfect opportunity to even the game in the bottom of the sixth. Owen Schenker and Hayden Scarmak singled before Will Beckert was intentionally walked to give Sharon loaded bases with no outs.

Third baseman Aidan Kleist fielded a hard grounder and fired the ball to catcher Bradyn Miller to stop the run from scoring. Miller threw to first base for a double play, which killed most of the Tigers' momentum.

"You try not to think about it (the pressure) and trust your defense. You have to keep working through it," Feleppa said. "I knew I had to pitch to contact during it because there is no point to strike him out when we can get a double play."

A deep fly ball in the next at bat got the Bulldogs out of the inning with no damage.

"It was big. I wanted to put him on so we had forces and we brought the infield in and it worked out," Meadville head coach Tony Tartaglione said. "Aidan Kleist made a nice play at third, Bradyn turned a double play and that was key. That kind of put them down a little bit.

"Then in the top of seventh we came up with a big run for a three-run lead."

With Feleppa at his pitch count, Rocco Tartaglione warmed up in the bullpen to take the mound in the bottom of the seventh. Mid warm-up, he was due at bat with two outs and Brighton Anderson on first. After Anderson stole second, Tartaglione brought him home with a liner to right field.

The RBI single gave Meadville a three-run cushion entering the bottom of the frame.

"These are the moments you live for. I knew I had to come up big there to pad myself a better lead because I am more comfortable pitching with a bigger lead," Rocco Tartaglione said. "It just makes things more relaxed. I knew my dugout was relying on me and I came through when I needed to."

Rocco Tartaglione allowed a single, struck one out and forced two ground balls to ice the game and push Meadville to the District 10 championship game.

"He is a senior leader and those are the moments he wants. He doesn't like to pitch when it's boring," Tony Tartaglione said laughing. "He came in and closed like we wanted him to. He did a nice job."

Sharon was unable to advance runners in the seventh, but had chances to score throughout the game. Besides the opportunity in the bottom of the sixth, Sharon left runners on base in two other innings.

"We had the opportunities, we just didn't get that hit when we needed it. That was the difference in the ball game today," Sharon head coach Chris Buchman Sr. said. "Both pitchers pitched a hell of a game.

"It's a sad thing that one of them had to lose and unfortunately it was our guy. My hats off to them and I wish them the best of luck against Prep."

Cattron fanned 11 in a complete game effort for Sharon. He allowed four hits, three earned runs and walked two. Scarmack was 2-for-3 with Schenker and Chandler Maurice getting Sharon's other hits.

Sharon finished the season 13-4 overall. The Tigers were the Region 2 champion and earned the No. 2 seed in the Class 4A bracket. Since Buchman Sr. took over for the 2021-22 season, the Tigers have steadily improved. He was thankful for the efforts from his upperclassmen.

"This is the hardest time to get together and talk with the kids because the end of a season is hard. I told the seniors the sun will come up tomorrow. I appreciate everything they did for the program from when I took over the program to where it is now," Buchman Sr. said. "Hopefully some of the younger guys learn and see what it takes. I know it's not the best feeling in the world right now, but it's part of what you have to go through when you're building. We just came out on the short end of the stick today."

Meadville's Feleppa finished with seven strikeouts, three hits and one walk. Anderson was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a double. Miller also had a double.

"AJ pitched really, really well and I was concerned about his pitch count to keep him available, but you have to win the game," Tony Tartaglione said. "It worked out that we did him keep at 75 because it reverts back, so he is available for Monday. I am very happy with the outcome."

Meadville will play Cathedral Prep for the District 10 Class 4A title for the second season in a row. The Bulldogs will play on Monday at UPMC Park at a time not yet announced.


Meadville (3)

(AB-R-H-BI) Anderson 3-1-2-2, Tartaglione 3-0-1-1, Miller 3-0-1-0, DeSantis-Biggs 3-0-0-0, Arpin 3-0-0-0, I. Miller 2-1-0-0, Reichel 2-1-0-0, Kleist 3-0-0-0, Thompson 3-0-0-0. Totals 25-3-4-3.

Sharon (0)

(AB-R-H-BI) Scarmack 3-0-2-0, Beckert 2-0-0-0, Cattron 3-0-0-0, Piccirilli 3-0-0-0, Maurice 3-0-1-0, Fromm 3-0-0-0, Gargasz 3-0-0-0, Douglas 3-0-0-0, Schenker 2-0-1-0. Totals 25-0-4-0.

Meadville 0000 020 1 — 3 4 0

Sharon 000 000 0 — 0 4 1


2B: M — Anderson, B. Miller.


(IP-H-R-ER-SO-BB) M — Feleppa 6-3-0-0-7-1, Tartaglione 1-1-0-0-1-0; S — Cattron 7-4-3-3-11-2.