SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Sometimes the other guy is just a hair better.
(Cover photo of Derek Boben of Moniteau by Mike Schnelle. View more of Schnelle’s work here.)
That’s what happened to the Moniteau baseball team Thursday afternoon in a 1-0 loss to WPIAL champion Riverside in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals at Slippery Rock’s Jack Critchfield Park.
In this case, that guy was Riverside senior pitcher Michael Boswell being just a hair better than Moniteau senior pitcher Derek Boben.
Boswell gave up just one hit, a two-out single to center in the third by Wyatt Geibel, while walking three and striking out nine. He faced just two batters over the minimum while recording Riverside’s sixth straight postseason shutout.
And yet he wasn’t close to being at his best according to 48th-year Riverside head coach Dan Oliastro, who won his 602nd game Thursday, the second-most in WPIAL history, said.
“That wasn’t Michael at his best,” Oliastro said. “He didn’t have a live fastball. We ended up having to go more to the breaking ball. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he had enough in here (pointing to his heart) to get the job done. Great kid, great performance.”
“(Moniteau) gave us everything we could handle. Their kid was good. He kept us off balance and got tons of fly balls, which was frustrating for me as a coach. They were well prepared for us. I don’t think he knows how good this team is that we have. They played us tough. It was good.”
Boben, who was coming off a rough start Monday in the first-round of the PIAA tournament that saw him get pulled early in the game, bounced back and was strong against the Panthers (22-2).
He gave up one unearned run on six hits and a walk while also hitting a batter and striking out three.
Moniteau head coach Ross Martin talked about his ace and the Warriors season after the game.
While Boben was good, three hits, all with two outs, and a passed ball in the bottom of the fourth cost him the game.
After getting the first two outs in the fourth – his seventh and eighth outs in a row, Cristian Cicchinelli hit a ball to deep shortstop that he beat out for an infield single. A passed ball moved Cichhinelli to second, and a single to left Braden Bentel scored what turned out to be the game’s only run.
While the score was only 1-0, it had the feel of a lot more probably because Riverside hasn’t given up a run since May 11. Yes, you read that correctly, May 11. With Thursday’s shutout, the Panthers have gone 40 innings and change without allowing an opponent to score, a span that reaches all 39 postseason innings for Riverside.
“I’ve never had a pitching run like this,” get-me overOliastro said. “The key is, I’ve had three kids who can pitch. I haven’t had to overload them. Michael hadn’t pitched since the WPIAL championship game. I haven’t had to overload anybody. I trust all three of them. We haven’t given up a run in the last six games, isn’t that amazing? But we aren’t scoring any runs. That’s what’s frustrating to me. We’ve only scored six runs in the last four games.”
Martin gave a lot of credit to Boswell but also thought his team could have done a better job of recognizing pitches.
“He’s very polished,” Martin said. “We could have maybe been a little bit more selective, especially with the breaking ball. He was get-me-over breaking ball early in the count. After that, you didn’t see a strike. We maybe got a little over aggressive. He was using our aggressiveness against us. But high-school baseball. You are going to go out there and compete. The kids came out and competed and played well. We just came up a little short.”
Moniteau didn’t help itself when it did get baserunners twice getting picked off base by Boswell, including courtesy runner Brice Williams getting picked off second with two outs in the fourth and Aaron Marterella getting picked off first with two outs in the sixth.
“In the state playoffs, all these teams are very good and are extremely opportunistic,” Martin said. “You can’t make mistakes. We had a couple of little baserunning miscues. They could be big. You’ve got to get somebody on, get them over with a bunt and hope for a gap shot. Playoff baseball is a little different animal than the regular season.”
Riverside will take on Bishop McCort, a 2-1 winner over Neshannock, in the semifinals Monday at site and time to be determined.
The game lasted just 1 hour and 10 minutes … It was one of two 1-0 games at Critchfield Park, as the game that followed in Class AAA between Bellefonte and Erie Cathedral Prep ended 1-0 Bellefonte … Both pitchers will be playing Division II college ball with Boswell going to Tiffin University in Ohio and Boben headed to Slippery Rock … Moniteau baseball had never won a District 9 title before this year and thus had never won a PIAA playoff game before beating Girard Monday … Riverside is a perennial power under Oliastro and has won four PIAA titles under the long-time head coach.
RIVERSIDE 1, MONITEAU 0
Score by Innings
Moniteau 000 000 0 – 0
Riverside 000 100 0 – 1
Moniteau – 0
Player, Pos, AB, R, H, RBIs
Jake Jewart lf 2000, Aaron Marterella ss 2000, Derek Boben p 2000, Zack Adamson dh 2000, Wyatt Ifft rf 0000, Lake Pry 1b 3000, Josh Adamson cf 2000, JJ Waid 3b 2000, Nick Sosigian 2b 2000, Wyatt Geibel c 2010, Hunter Fitzingo cr 0000. Totals 19-0-1-0.
Riverside – 1
Player, Pos, AB, R, H, RBIs
Dylan Speicher 3000, Michael Boswell 3010, Jason Dambach cf 3000, Kolby Wolf 1b 2010, Ty Thellman cr/pr 0000, Austin Dumbach rf 3000, Cristian Cicchinelli 2120,Braden Bentel 2011, Rickey Wass 2b 2010, Will Yasenka 3b 2000. 22-1-6-1.
LOB – Moniteau 2. Riverside 6. Errors – Moniteau 1. 2B – Boswell, Wolf. SAC – Z. Adamson, Bentel. PO – Williams, Marterella.
Derek Boben – 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HB
Michael Boswell – 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K
Winning pitcher – Michael Boswell
Losing pitcher – Derek Boben