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WASHINGTON, Pa. – If Serra Catholic’s baseball team could keep things close, Eagles coach Brian Dzurenda believed the offense would come eventually.
Surely it had to. All season, the Eagles’ offensive juggernaut bowled through opponents, pounding out 11.63 runs per contest en route to an appearance in the WPIAL Class AA final Tuesday night at Wild Things Park.
Solving Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic pitcher Ryan Feczko proved to be a different problem entirely.
In the end, Serra was denied winning its second WPIAL title in three seasons, falling to North Catholic, 5-2.
The Eagles scored first, but fully displayed their offensive mojo. Feczko pitched 6.0 innings of two-hit ball, striking out six and issuing one walk.
“What Ryan Feczko did was artwork to me,” North Catholic coach John Haggerty said. “It was beautiful. I’ve seen it all year. He doesn’t get down. Occasionally, he’ll get hit around. We may give up one or two runs with him. But he’s able to reset himself and refocus.”
Serra (21-2) was undone by wildness on the mound. In the bottom of the second inning, Trojans batters Daniel Lynch and Feczko drew two-out walks off Eagles starting pitcher Nate Piontka. Jack Cassidy and Luc Madonna followed with RBI singles that put North Catholic ahead 2-1.
The Eagles ended up issuing seven free passes.
“I really did,” said Dzurenda, asked whether he thought the offense would pick up. “We haven’t walked that many people in any single game all year round. I don’t know if it was the mound. I’m not going to make any excuses. It wasn’t our day, period.”
Serra’s only lead came in the top of the second.
Eagles infielder Patrick Brennan reached on a one-out error in the second. He was then singled in by Andrew Cornetto.
“We had to close the door at some point,” Feczko said. “When they got that first one, no more is going in.”
Serra wouldn’t score again until the sixth inning. The Eagles were limited to four hits.
“He was able to spot his curveball for strikes, which I had heard in the past he wasn’t able to do,” Dzurenda said. “Feczko came in and threw nice pitches. He spotted his fastball well and threw curveballs to keep our kids off-balance.”
Joe Alampi gave Feczko some breathing room, singling in Daniel Lynch in the fifth inning to stretch the lead to 3-1. The Trojans added their final two runs with patience.
Robby Randolph drew a walk to open the inning and moved to second base when Adam Cruttenden reached on an error. Nate Saar drew another walk to load the bases. One batter later, Feczko drew an RBI walk. Jack Cassidy then hit into a fielder’s choice that put North Catholic ahead 5-1.
The Eagles cut the lead to 5-2 when Piontka drove in Ben Bowen on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer who covers sports and other topics for Tube City Almanac.
Originally published May 30, 2018.