The Ellwood City Wolverines captured the 2012 WPIAL Class AA Championship with a thrilling 9-7 victory over rival Riverside on Wednesday at Consol Energy Park in Washington Pa.
Ellwood’s 7-1 lead evaporated, but wildly enough, LHS starter Christian Kerns picks up the win and the save in the same game. Riverside strands the winning run on base in an epic 7th inning ending.
The victory gave Ellwood City (21-2) its first title since 2003 and dashed the hopes of archrival Riverside (18-6), which won WPIAL and PIAA titles a year ago.
The neighboring high schools sit just two miles apart and share a baseball section. But, this win brought more than just bragging rights; this was Ellwood City’s fifth WPIAL title and third since 2001 under head coach Jeff Fotia.
In this year’s WPIAL Championship matchup, no lead was secure for the Wolverines.
Ellwood City scored twice in the first inning and five more in the second to lead 7-1. Still the Wolverines needed a seventh-inning stand, when Riverside had two runners on base and Christian Kerns forced the game-ending flyball.
The Wolverines were led offensively by Zachary Mathias, who was 3 for 3 with two runs scored. Senior first-baseman Matt Morella also scored twice, and each time he reached base with an error.
Riverside did rally in the third, scoring four runs despite just one hit, and after three innings, and Ellwood City led just 7-5. Riverside’s Tyler Falk scored three times in the game, including once in the fifth that pulled Riverside within a run, 7-6.
But, Ellwood City added two insurance runs in the sixth when Morella and Mathias both scored.
Drama continued as Riverside scored again in the seventh, when Falk singled and scored, but a fly ball ended the threat and game.
Ellwood City and Riverside are both heading to the PIAA state playoffs on Monday. Last year, Riverside took the PIAA state title. The Wolverines last state title came back in 2003.