day for smiles
Gritty Golden Tornado grind out playoff victory
CHIPPEWA TWP, Beaver County — John Crummy clapped his hands. pitcher Tim Geibel handed out high fives like he handed out strikeouts and Bill Coleman's smile was bright enough to lighten a dreary day.
For the Butler baseball team, Friday was a day of redemption, of celebration and an outlet 12 years in the making.
But it wasn't easy.
The Golden Tornado had to overcome adversity, even before the first pitch, for a 3-1 win over Franklin Regional in the first round of the WPIAL Quad-A playoffs at Chippewa Park.
"Oh, it was real nice," said Geibel, who was in the first grade the last time a Golden Tornado baseball team advanced to the WPIAL playoffs in 1996. "We've had people coming up to us telling us, 'Great job,' and 'Good luck.' That has never happened before."
This game was scheduled for HerbField inRoss Township, but it was moved to Chippewa Park because of the steady rain that fell Thursday evening into Friday morning.
But Butler is used to moving games around. The Golden Tornado played most of its early season schedule on the road because of lingering construction atPullman Park.
So comfortable away from home, Butler wore its road blue jersey tops Friday, even though it was the designated home team.
"This is the jersey of choice nowadays," Geibel said. "We've been better on the road, so we decided this is what we are going to stick with for the rest of the year."
Butler loaded the bases in the third inning but failed to score. In a 1-1 game in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Golden Tornado had a chance to take the lead on a single by RyanGeibel, but pinch runner RomanBargo stumbled halfway between third and home and was thrown out trying to get back to third.
Adversity? No big deal for Butler.
"Adversity doesn't last long with these guys," Butler coach Dave Florie said. "One of the keys to this team is their gamesmanship. The trademark of this team is their internal strength."
RyanArmahizer followed with a double that scored Ryan Geibel and later scored on a wild pitch to give Butler the lead.
TimGeibel finished the deal.
Geibel, using a sharp, late-breaking slider that he spotted anywhere he liked in the strike zone, baffled Franklin Regional hitters for most of the game.
The senior right-hander struck out eight and walked one, scattering five hits in seven innings.
He got in trouble only twice, but, thanks to a couple of breaks, he escaped both times.
In the first inning, Geibel worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam when he got Joe Fornatero to hit a sharp grounder to second baseman Armahizer.
Butler tried to turn the double play, but the throw from shortstopDarren Blakley skipped in the dirt, which at first allowed two runs to score.
But the base umpire ruled that runner Mike Cassella interfered with Blakley's throw, ending the inning and negating the runs.
Franklin Regional coach Larry Wayman didn't argue the call, even though he said after the game that the explanation from the umpires made little sense to him.
"(The umpire) said (Cassella) came up and disrupted the throw to first," Wayman said. "I didn't see any disruption on the throw. I just thought the kid made a bad throw."
Butler will play Plum at a site, day and time to be determined.
"We have some confidence right now," Florie said. "They want more. They're not satisfied. They won't get too too excited about this victory here."
FranklinReg. 000 100 0—1 5 2
Butler 100 002 x—3 9 0
W: Tim Geibel 7 IP (8 K, 1 BB). L: Mike Palekanos 6X\c IP (2 K, 1 BB).
Franklin Regional (13-5): Palekanos 1B; Mike Cassella 2-1B; Steve Fermer HR; Josh Robinette 3B
Butler (13-6): BillColeman 2-1B; Tim Geibel 2B, 1B, RBI; JohnCrummy 1B; RyanGeibel 2-1B; Ryan Armahizer 2B, RBI; Nick Rossmiller 1B