Finding a way out of an early three-run hole, Riverside used a four-run fourth inning and a lengthy relief effort from senior Rob Hardy to fuel its remarkable, 5-4 win against Pine Grove at Penn State’s Medlar Field on Friday.
Not only was it Riverside’s second straight title — matching the back-to-back championships the Panthers won in 2005-06 — but the program also is the first to win four PIAA titles.
When Pine Grove began the game with a 3-0 lead in the top of the second against Riverside starting pitcher Blaise McCarty, head coach Dan Oliastro didn’t hesitate to call on Hardy.
Hardy, a senior right-hander and one of three seniors on the team, entered the game for a lengthy relief effort. After a walk, he got a strikeout to end the inning, and allowed only two hits the rest of the way to pick up the final win of his high school career.
The big inning for Riverside came in the fourth as No. 9 hitter Andy Meneice had his second single of the game and it brought home a run to make it 3-2. Devin Kelosky reached on an error and Dylan Jones’ infield hit drove home a run to tie the score, 3-3. Finally, Tyler Falk smacked a two-run triple to center field, putting Riverside up 5-3.
Pine Grove would score another run in the sixth to threaten the Panthers’ lead; but, it would be only a threat. Riverside held on and secured back-to-back state titles for the second time in eight years, making the WPIAL championship loss a minor glitch in their post-season success.