Daugherty twirls gem, Butler baseball clinches at least share of section title
BUTLER TWP — Wyatt Daugherty was like a pitching Picasso, painting corners instead of canvases.
The Butler right-hander had a fastball, cutter and curveball all working against Seneca Valley Friday night in a complete-game, five-hit shutout.
Cory Wheeler added the offense with a two-run homer and the Golden Tornado ended the night guaranteed of at least a share of the Section 1-AAAA title with a 3-0 victory over the Raiders at Butler High School.
“Wyatt did a tremendous job tonight. All of his pitches were pretty much working for him,” said Butler coach Todd Erdos. “He was pounding the strike zone and forcing them to swing at first pitches. Some were hit hard right at guys.”
And the defense behind Daugherty handled every one.
Daugherty has come to rely on the seven players in the field behind him and Kyle Campbell as his catcher behind the plate.
“I was feeling really good out there,” Daugherty said. “I just wanted to go out there and throw a first-pitch strike to every batter.”
That's exactly what Daugherty did.
He rarely fell behind any hitter and issued only one walk — to the very first batter of the game, John Harper.
Through the middle innings, Daugherty retired 10 straight at one point and needed a mere 17 pitches to cruise through the fourth and the fifth frames.
“He was mixing it up really well,” Erdos said. “The cutter is relatively new and sometimes it was sharp and sometimes it had a little more break to it, but it was enough to keep them off balance.
“His first inning, he was up in the zone a little bit,” Erdos added. “It has been awhile since he was out there, a little more than a week. He settled in really nicely after that.”
Butler gave Daugherty a run in the bottom of the third inning when No. 9 hitter Nathan Kibbie led off with a single and scored on a RBI fielder's choice groundout by Wheeler.
Kibbie had two singles in the game for the Tornado.
Wheeler gave the Tornado and Daugherty some breathing room when he hit an opposite field drive that clanked off the top of the scoreboard with Reid Werth on base for a 3-0 cushion.
“The momentum shifted completely after that,” Daugherty said. “Even more than it was before.”
Wheeler has been sensational on defense at shortstop this season, but has struggled at times at the plate. He broke through in a big way against Seneca Valley.
“It was nice to see him do it,” Erdos said. “He's been battling all year at the plate and it was nice to see him break out, get that one and break the game open for us a little bit.”
The loss spoiled what was otherwise a stellar outing for Seneca Valley pitcher Alex Hajduk, who gave up just four hits in six innings.
He also picked off two Butler baserunners.
“He did a good job,” said Raiders' coach Eric Semega. “He deserved a better outcome tonight.”
Seneca Valley (5-9, 4-5) threatened in the seventh inning when Vince Augustine led off with a double, but Augustine was thrown out at the plate on a strong throw by Butler left fielder Ryan Vero following a single by Matt Wagner.
Wagner was doubled off first on a line drive off the bat of Corbin Kessler to second baseman Ryan Denny to end the game.
“We had nothing going all day, so we decided to push the buttons a little bit,” Semega said. “We tried to make a momentum changer, get them to think about it a little bit, but it backfired.”
The loss doesn't eliminate the Raiders from the third and final playoff spot out of the section.
Seneca Valley needs a win over Fox Chapel (8-8, 3-6) and a Butler (11-3, 8-1) win over North Hills (7-7, 4-5) Monday to get the final playoff spot.
For Butler, a win over North Hills sews up the section title outright.
North Hills beat North Allegheny (11-6, 7-2) Friday night, 8-6, to give the Tornado a one-game lead.
The worst the Golden Tornado can do now is a share of the section title. Butler and NA split its two games this season.
“North Hills is going to be gunning for us because they are still playing for a playoff spot,” Erdos said.
Seneca Valley 000 000 0 — 0 5 1
Butler 001 020 x — 3 4 0
W: Wyatt Daugherty 7IP (4K, 1BB). L: Alex Hajduk 6IP (5K, 4BB).
Seneca Valley (5-9, 4-5): John Harper 1B, Johnny Brittner 2-1B, Vince Augustine 2B, Matt Wagner 1B
Butler (11-3, 8-1): Garrett Goslaw 1B, Cory Wheeler HR 3-RBI, Nathan Kibbie 2-1B