South uses 7-run 4th to defeat Defenders

South Williamsport center fielder Aaron Guerrisky dives for a catch to end the second inning on Wednesday against Warrior Run. (MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette)

South Williamsport baseball players waited nearly 11 months, longing for another shot at Warrior Run. When that opportunity came Wednesday, the District 4 Class AA quarterfinal rematch looked a lot like last year’s game being replayed.

The Defenders mercy-ruled South, ending its season last year, and quickly built a five-run lead on the Mounties’ home field yesterday. This time, South flipped the script. This time, South came storming back and was the one celebrating a big win.

Aaron Orgitano ignited a seven-run fourth-inning rally, Aaron Guerrisky hit a game-tying single and earned a three-inning save and South seemingly came back from the dead, beating Warrior Run, 8-5. The Mounties (2-2, 2-1 HAC-III) won their second straight game in comeback fashion and showed that, despite injuries and youth, they remain dangerous.

“We’re never out of a game. We always believe we can come back,” Guerrisky said after throwing three scoreless innings. “After losing up there in the playoffs last year we wanted to come back and get the win and it’s a big stepping stone.”

After Warrior Run took a 5-0 fourth-inning lead, that step seemed more like climbing a mountain, especially against ace Gage Anzulavich. The Mounties made three errors during the first three innings and had only one hit. Still, they remained optimistic and changed the game’s complexion, scoring six two-runs that suddenly gave them a 7-5 lead.

Warrior Run’s Kade Meyer is safe at second base as South Williamsport second baseman Lou Winner fields the throw on a steal in the fourth inning on Wednesday. (MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette)

Tristin Weaver recorded the final out in the fourth inning and earned the win in his first high school appearance. Just like that, South might have altered the complexion of its season.

“It hopefully shows them what they are capable of and I can’t say enough about this group,” first-year South coach Paul “Smokey” Stover said. “What I see the most that makes me happy is they’re having fun. That’s awesome.”

Orgitano (2 for 4) sparked the comeback when he led off the fourth inning with a single. Ben Johnson was hit by a pitch and Peter Sinibaldi followed with an RBI single. Pat West (3 for 3) singled two batters later, but Anzulavich was a strike from ending the rally before it really started when he worked a 2-2 count on Hunter Finn. Finn fought back and drew an RBI walk and South took off from there.

Hunter Corbin followed with a two-run single that made it 5-4. Guerrisky then hit an RBI single that tied it and Corbin gave South the lead moments later, scoring on a wild pitch. Orgitano ended the rally the way he started it, driving an RBI double into the right-center field gap. South put five straight players on base with two outs and delivered three straight two-out hits that produced four runs while sending 12 batters to the plate in the game-changing inning.

“Orgitano got the leadoff single and that got us going,” Guerrisky said. “We saw he did it and then everyone else started doing it.”

South Williamsport right fielder Tripp Breen leaps over center fielder Aaron Guerrisky after Guerrisky made a diving catch to end the second inning against Warrior Run. (MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette)

Warrior Run (2-2) threatened in each of the final three innings, but Guerrisky stranded five baserunners and repeatedly came through in big spots. Weaver and Corbin do so as well and the trio forced the Defenders into going 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position. Noah Showers (2 for 3) and Vincent Bender (3 for 4) hit singles in the seventh, but Guerrisky induced a game-ending groundout to Finn at second base.

“We tell the kids all the time, when you get somebody down finish them off. We didn’t do that and hat’s off to South Williamsport,” Warrior Run coach Harold Raup said. “Finish is our saying for this year. We didn’t finish tonight and it came back to bite us. Now we have to regroup and try and get on a roll.”

Warrior Run scored a run in each of the first three innings. Brayton Rowello (3 for 4) and Bender both hit doubles in the fourth as Warrior Run took a 5-0 lead. However, that lead could have been much bigger. Corbin struck out five and constantly made key pitches at key times and Warrior Run hit just 1 for 11 against him with runners in scoring position.

Guerrisky also saved a run in the second inning when he made a sensational, two-out diving catch in center field. Rowello drilled what would have been an RBI double into the right-center gap, but Guerrisky sprinted into that hole, fully extended his body and caught the ball just inches before it hit the ground. Take that catch away and the Defenders would have led 4-0 in the second and had the heart of their order coming up.

“We could have broken that game wide open and we didn’t do that,” Raup said. “I speak about that all the time. Finish it off when you have the lead because this is what happens and we know what happens from coming back against other teams.”

South finished with 10 hits as players produced throughout the lineup. Freshman Dom Harding provided a valuable insurance run in the fifth inning, slamming an RBI double in his first varsity at-bat after West had hit a one-out single.

“I could hear some guys earlier, saying they (the Defenders) are really good and we’re just trying to survive. I said, ‘no, we can be as good as anybody,'” Stover said. “They have to learn that they can beat anybody at any time. That’s key and to see the smiles on their faces, that thrills me to no end.”

Warrior Run 111 200 0–5 9 1

South 000 710 x–8 10 4

Gage Anzulavich, Kade Meyer (4), Tyler Leighow (5) and Michael Muffly. Hunter Corbin, Tristan Weaver (4), Aaron Guerrisky (5) and Pat West. W: Weaver, (1-0). L: Anzulavich, (2-2). Sv: Guerrisky, (1).

Top Warrior Run hitters: Brayton Rowello 3-4, 2B, RBI; Noah Showers 2-3, 2 2B, 2 runs; Vincent Bender 3-4, 2 2Bs; Meyer 1-1, RBI, run. Top South Williamsport hitters: Corbin 1-4, 2 RBIs, run; Guerrisky 2-4, RBI, run; Aaron Orgitano 2-4, 2B, RBI, run; Peter Sinibaldi 1-3; West 3-3; Dom Harding 1-1, 2B, RBI.

Records: South Williamsport (2-2, 2-1 HAC-III), Warrior Run (2-2, 2-2).