Eagles make early run stand up

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At such an early juncture in the game, it seemed like a relatively harmless play.

With a teammate in scoring position, South Park's Nick Yobbi hit a ground ball that trickled into right field to give the Eagles a lead in the bottom of the first inning.

But what appeared to be a small occurrence was ultimately the difference in keeping South Park's dream of a WPIAL championship and an undefeated season intact.

With offense in short supply, Yobbi's RBI single and a strong pitching performance from Randy Dobnak lifted the No. 1 Eagles (23-0) to a 1-0 victory Tuesday against Keystone Oaks in a WPIAL Class AAA semifinal at the Upper St. Clair Community and Recreation Center.

"We knew coming into this game that hits were going to be at a minimum," South Park coach Steve Bucci said.

"We just knew, as we talked all week, that we're going to get an opportunity or two against this guy and we're going to have to cash it in."

At a time of year when top pitchers get about a week of rest between games, low-scoring contests are not entirely unexpected.

But in the matchup of Dobnak and Keystone Oaks pitcher Jared Stolnicki, it turned out to be a game dominated by those on the mound.

Dobnak pitched five innings, had eight strikeouts and gave up just one hit, which did not come until the top of the fifth.

Widely considered one of the best pitchers in the WPIAL, Stolnicki tossed a completed game, giving up just two hits and striking out 11.

But even in such a strong outing, he took the loss because in a tightly contested game with little separating the two teams, he was the first to blink by giving up the single to Yobbi that scored outfielder Jake Bywalski.

The Golden Eagles (17-5) had a chance to tie with a runner on third base with two outs in the seventh inning, but Yobbi, on in relief of Dobnak, caught a ground ball that he tossed to first to end the game.

Though it was not able to advance to the first WPIAL championship in school history, Keystone Oaks can still make the state playoffs by winning a consolation game next week, something that could extend a banner season for the program.

"We put together the best record Keystone Oaks has ever had, we've gone the furthest distance Keystone Oaks has ever had," Golden Eagles coach Scott Crimone said.

"To finish No. 3 in the WPIAL is just another notch on our belt.

"We're just going to keep trying to put those accolades up and keep building for the future."

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Craig Meyer: cmeyer@post-gazette.com and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.


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