When Knoch’s Chris Law watched teammate Dominic Bucko dive headfirst into third base, he was ready to make it count.
The game was tied with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
And Law came to the plate, knowing his team needed one hit to take the lead and move three outs away from capturing a state championship.
“As soon as he hit that triple, I knew we were winning,” Law said. “I knew we were winning.”
Law came through with a single up the middle to drive in the go-ahead run, and Knoch earned a 7-5 win over Abington Heights to capture the PIAA Class AAA title Friday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The Knights, who were the District 7 champions, recorded four hits and scored two runs with two outs in the sixth inning en route to the victory.
Abington Heights pulled even at 5-5 in the fourth inning, but the Comets managed just one hit in the final three innings.
“You want to get yourself to that point where one run is the difference in the game,” Abington Heights coach Bill Zalewski said. “And we were there today. If we get that one extra run or one big hit late, then we’re up and that’s a different ballgame.”
Zalewski’s team climbed back into it with a three-run fourth inning.
Zach Campbell’s two-out RBI single to right-center field brought Abington Heights within 5-3. With runners on first and third, Tyler Ksiazek followed with a line drive to center field, where Knoch’s Bucko made a diving attempt.
The risk proved costly as Bucko couldn’t make the play, allowing two runs to score to tie it.
Bucko made up for the mistake in the bottom of the sixth.
With the game still tied 5-5, he ripped a two-strike pitch to the warning track in right field and motored around the bases for a triple with two outs.
“Next year look out, (Division I schools) are gonna be searching him out,” Knoch coach George Bradley said. “They’re already looking because you see how he hits the ball. He doesn’t look like a sophomore. He runs like a deer. He’s a player. He’s a baseball player.”
Bradley was confident with Law coming to the plate.
He sent a 2-2 pitch bouncing back up the middle and into center field to score the go-ahead run.
“He had two strikes on him too when he put that ball up through there,” Bradley said. “We work on that, that two-strike swing, short to the ball, just get it in play, good stuff happens and these guys have been paying attention all year. They’re not easy outs.”
Law then stole second base and scored on pitcher Cole Shinsky’s single through the left side of the infield to make it 7-5.
Shinsky threw a complete game to earn the win, allowing five runs (two earned) on eight hits. He also walked three, hit batters three times and struck out three.
He got off to a shaky start, throwing balls on his first seven pitches and getting into bases-loaded jams in the first and second innings. Bradley said he challenged Shinsky to compete or give the ball up midway through the game.
Shinsky stayed in and finished the game with three straight scoreless innings.
“He’s pitching his heart out,” Law said. “He poured his heart out in every single pitch and we came out big and helped him out a little bit and we won it for him.”