Carmichaels Mighty Mikes vs Neshannock Lancers

PIAA Class A   State Semi Finals

Carmichaels tries to make most of second chance
BY MIKE KOVAK, Staff writer

The Carmichaels baseball team need only look at the area's other
state semifinalist - Peters Township - to know second chances can
be pretty sweet.

The Indians lost to Pine-Richland, 11-0, during the last day of
the regular season. When Peters Township got to play the Rams
again, this time in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA
playoffs, the Indians claimed an 8-6 victory.

Carmichaels, in the Class A semifinals for the first time in
school history, gets its shot at revenge today when the Mikes
play WPIAL champion Neshannock at Falconi Field (5 p.m.)
Neshannock defeated Carmichaels, 15-0, in the district finals.

"Who knows? Maybe the 15 wasn't a fluke," Mikes coach Dave Bates
said. "But if anybody really does think that Neshannock is 15
runs better than us, than why don't they come and find out."

As strong as Neshannock (21-1) is, the Lancers certainly expect a
far more competitive game this time.

"A game like the WPIAL championship happens once in a lifetime,"
Neshannock coach Mike Kirkwood said. "We know they're much better
than that."

The Mikes (17-3) know too. Now, they want to prove as much.

"We definitely want to play them," junior pitcher Jared Lapkowicz
said moments after striking out 14 batters during a 3-2 win
against Clarion-Limestone in the quarterfinals Saturday. "We
weren't really looking for them. We were concentrating on what we
had to do."

For the Mikes to advance to Friday's state championship game
against either Christopher Dock or Muncy, they'll have to
concentrate on what they do best. And that's playing
fundamentally sound, mistake-free baseball.

Carmichaels did not commit an error against Clarion-Limestone
though the smaller dimensions of Matulevic Field at Shaler High
School forced the Mikes to adopt more of a free-swinging
approach. Normally, Carmichaels bunts batters over and attempts
as many steals as possible.

"We're trying to be real fundamentally sound, just like
Carmichaels," Kirkwood said. "We more or less mirror each other."

And neither team will start its ace pitcher.

Neshannock's Mark Tanner, grandson of former Pittsburgh Pirates
manager Chuck Tanner, tossed a one-hitter Saturday against
Sto-Rox. Likewise Lapkowicz, who also pitched a gem Saturday,
does not have enough recovery time to take the mound.

The Lancers will start either Ryan Jones or Derek Sumner. Either
Karl Cole or Andy Mazur will draw the assignment for Carmichaels.

"It's going to be an entirely different ballgame this time,"
Bates said.


Neshannock once again ends Mikes' title hopes
By:Justin Zackal , For the Herald-Standard 06/14/2004

The Mikes' Shayne Busti points to his teammates after smacking a
first-inning triple. Paul Ruhter/Herald-Standard
WASHINGTON - What was supposed to happen two weeks ago, happened
on Monday.

The top two Class A baseball teams in the WPIAL played a tight
one-run game.

Like the championship game on May 29 when Neshannock blew out
Carmichaels by 15 runs, the teams played at Falconi Field in
Washington, only this time it was a much closer game in the PIAA
state semifinals.

There was no blowout this time. Only a few leftover offensive
hiccups would send the Lancers to the state finals with their 2-1
win over Carmichaels.

"A thousand times I said it," Neshannock coach Mike Kirkwood
remarked following the game, "that was a once in a lifetime game
against a very good team. Coming in I thought this would be a
one-run game. I was just thinking we needed four or five runs."
Only two runs would do the trick, as the Lancers scored on
consecutive hits in the first and third innings to secure the
lead and the win.

"Last time was a fluke," said Carmichaels coach Dave Bates. "It
was not so much us, it was them. They made play after play and
they did a little bit of that again today."

Indeed, the Lancers pitching and defensive play was too much.
Neshannock pitcher Derek Sumner pitched a complete-game
three-hitter in front of stellar defensive play to go with his
five strikeouts and two walks.

Though Sumner is not Neshannock's No. 1 pitcher, second to ace
Mark Tanner who shut out Carmichaels in the WPIAL championship
game, both coaches knew he could be just as effective.
"Tanner is our No. 1 pitcher, but I'll put my No. 2 pitcher
against anyone," Kirkwood said. "He did a decent job of mixing
his pitches up."

"I'm surprised (we didn't hit well)," Bates said. "But their kid
pitched well. Anybody can throw a curveball, but he could throw
back-to-back curveballs in different locations; that's what makes
a good pitcher."

The sixth inning was key for Neshannock, according to Kirkwood.
With a 2-1 lead Carmichaels batted its Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters
Shayne Busti, Jared Lapkowicz and Jeff Lapkowicz.

Sumner escaped the inning forcing Busti, who tripled in the first
inning, to strikeout, followed by Jared Lapkowicz's groundout to
first. Jeff Lapkowicz would reach on an error, but was forced out
at second on an Andy Mazur grounder to end the inning.

"Once we got through their 3-4-5 hitters without them scoring I
thought we had a good chance," Kirkwood said. "I didn't want them
to have another shot to bat."

"They were just good pitches we didn't hit," Bates said. "Anytime
you sit down Busti and Jared and Jeff Lapkowicz, that's saying

In the bottom of the seventh inning when Carmichaels had one last
shot, Sumner struck out Karl Cole and Donnie Hewitt before
snaring a Niko Buday grounder back to mound and throwing him out
to end the game.

Neshannock (22-1) collected eight hits off Carmichaels' Mazur,
who pitched a complete game with two strikeouts and no walks.
The Lancers scored in the bottom of the first when Donnie
Kirkwood led off the inning with a single, stole second and
scored on a Brian Chrobak single to left-center.

After Carmichaels (17-4) tied the game in the top of the second,
Neshannock plated the game-winner with its only other
back-to-back hits of the game. Tanner hit a two-out double to
left-center and scored when Ryan Jones painted a single down the
right field line.

"It could have gone either way," Kirkwood said. "Defensively,
Carmichaels is a very sound team. We were hitting the ball hard
all day."

Donnie Kirkwood led the Lancers with two hits and reached base
three times. The Mikes lone run came in the second inning when
Mazur singled to right field, moved to second on Cole's sacrifice
bunt, and scored when Hewitt reached base on an error.

Neshannock advances to the state championship game to be played
Friday at Harrisburg against the winner of Christopher Dock and

Carmichaels finishes the season further in the state playoffs
than it did last year when the Mikes won the WPIAL title and lost
in the first round.

"We've had a great season and have nothing to be ashamed of,"
Bates added. "If you would've told people we'd be playing for
a state title this year (after not advancing past the first round
last year), they'd laugh at us. But I know these guys have a lot of heart."


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