When Westminster Christian pitcher Clay DeHaan and St. Edward’s Jack Tierney initially received little support Monday, postseason survival for either team became a matter who could finally get some first in any way, shape or form.
DeHaan got it in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A Westminster Regional at Wing Park as the Warriors’ flawed defense suddenly stiffened while St. Edward’s only grew worse and sixth-seeded Westminster Christian came away with a 5-2 upset of the third-seeded Green Wave.
It earned Westminster Christian (11-18) a Thursday semifinal shot at home against second-seeded Aurora Christian.
“It feels great to move ahead, especially with these guys,” DeHaan said. “We’ve had some tight games, some 2-1 losses, but it feels good to get one, especially this late in the year.”
DeHaan (2-5) allowed five hits, struck out two, walked four and hit two batters, and came away the winner when the Warriors scored three unearned runs on three errors in the top of the seventh inning.
Every run scored in the game was unearned, but Westminster committed two errors early, and then no more, while St. Edward (9-17-1) finished with five.
“Tierney goes out there and does his job and the defense didn’t show up today,” St. Edward coach Tim Dovichi said.
Tierney (3-5) allowed four hits with eight strikeouts and two walks through six innings, but leading off the seventh, an overthrow of first base by catcher Tighe Koehring on a dropped third strike with Nic Angiulo batting came back to haunt the Green Wave.
Tierney then allowed his fifth hit, a single by Tyler Mamrot, and left in favor of left-hander Jake LaFrenz. Ian Merlak put down a sacrifice bunt, and an overthrow at third let both runners come all the way around and score and put Merlak at second. Then another throwing error let Merlak score.
There was a direct contrast in the bottom of the seventh when the Green Wave got the leadoff batter on, but after a pop out, second baseman Angiulo cleanly fielded a grounder and started a second-to-short-to-first game-ending double play.
“I think when Adam (Greene) missed a ball over at first base, it helped us get our focus back and realize, ‘Hey, we needed to really just go through and grind it out right now,’ and it really showed in the end,” DeHaan said. “We buckled down.”
Thomas Trippichio drove in a run in the second for St. Edward with an infield grounder that went for an error. The only Westminster RBI was Brendan Ruffolo’s single in the third for a 2-1 lead, but St. Edward scored on an unearned run in the third and threatened to take a lead before a third-to-first double play ended it.
The Wave had left nine on base.
“Same thing all year,” Dovichi said. “We get guys in scoring position, we can’t do anything. If you put a guy on third base with no outs, we won’t get them in. That’s just the story of our season.”
For DeHaan, it wasn’t similar to the rest of his season as he lowered his ERA to 2.67 but this time got help.
“Thats how he’s pitched all year,” first-year Westminster coach Brance Rivera said. “He pitched that well all year.
“We just finally executed and backed him up.”