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UNDER-DAWGS: Redbank Valley shocks undefeated WPIAL Champ Serra Catholic, 2-1, in First Round of PIAA Class 2A Playoffs

IRWIN, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Gloves flew in the air.

High fives. Bellows of joy. Screams of success.

Redbank Valley had done the improbable.


“Redbank 2, Goliath 0,” said Bulldogs’ baseball coach Craig Hibell, grinning.

Heavy underdogs in the first round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs against undefeated District 7 champion Serra Catholic, Redbank Valley took a one-run lead in the top of the eighth on an RBI single by Bryson Bain, and Ty Carrier shut the door on the upset as the Bulldogs shocked the Eagles, 2-1, at Norwin High School on Monday afternoon.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

It isn’t the first time this school year that the Bulldogs have stunned a WPIAL champ and state power. The football team beat Bishop Canevin, 23-14, in the state semifinals in December.

“This is right up there with that,” said Bain, a senior who was the quarterback on the football team.

He was the starting pitcher Monday and overcame a shaky first inning to go six-plus strong.

He was locked in a duel with Serra Catholic left-handed Zach Karp.

Serra Catholic (23-1) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but couldn’t dent the scoreboard again.

The Eagles had chances, but Bain and a solid defense behind him danced out of harm’s way.

Bain had his off-speed pitches working and gave up just one hit. He did walk eight, but greatly limited the damage of those free passes.

“We just made some big plays out there,” Bain said.

None bigger than the one Breckin Minich made with two on and no one out in the bottom of the seventh.

Redbank had squandered its own prime opportunity to take the lead in the top of the inning, loading the bases. But, Serra Catholic reliever Isiah Petty came in a slammed the door on that threat.

Carrier returned the favor in the bottom of the frame after Bain had walked a pair.

Carrier got Nico Erimic to hit a weak chopper to Minich at third. The Redbank Valley freshman stepped on third base for the first out and threw across the diamond to get Erimic for a huge double play.

Erimic was playing with a leg injury and was moved down from third to ninth in the order.

“I was very confident he was going to hit the ball hard off that kid,” said Serra Catholic coach Brian Dzurenda. “He just rolled over on it. He can’t run. He couldn’t get down to first base with his bum leg.”

Carrier then hit a groundout to second to end the seventh and set down Serra Catholic in order in the eighth, striking out Joe DeMoss to end the game and send the Bulldogs into a frenzied celebration.

Carrier got the win, throwing two hitless, scoreless innings.

“It’s the same thing as I said after we lost to Johnsonburg (in the District 9 final) and after we kind of fought back and forth with Camp Hill (in a state play-in game) — we’re young and we play the game with energy,” Hibell said. “We couldn’t care less what the result is — we’re playing a game 100%.

“I can’t say enough about one through nine today and all 10 through 15 guys on the bench,” Hibell added. “It was a total team win.”

Serra Catholic managed just one hit in the game. The Eagles lone run came on an error.

Bain went 2-for-3 with both RBIs. His hit in the top of the fourth scored Tate Minich. His slicing flair to right in the eighth brought home Owen Clouse.

Redbank Valley will take in Burgettstown, which upset D9 champion Johnsonburg, Thursday in the state quarterfinals at a site and time to be determined.

Serra Catholic players were collectively quiet and in shock after the loss.

“We were talking about it the past couple of days; it was very similar to what we did in football,” Bain said. “You know, just coming in being underdogs, you’re not supposed to win, so you’re able to play more freely and you just have that chip on your shoulder that they didn’t have.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.