Antelopes open season with three wins

Avonworth’s Brandon Cerminara heads for home plate and the score that would put the Antelopes ahead as the ‘Lopes went on to defeat Mohawk Monday. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

By JIM RUMBLE

Despite having only four seniors on the team, the Avonworth Antelopes baseball team is off to a good start, earning three wins to start the season.

The ‘Lopes opened the season on March 29 at Riverview in a non-section match and overpowered the Raiders 17-0. Turner Grau pitched five and two- thirds innings of no-hit baseball to earn the win while batting 2-4 with two RBI. Brandon Cerminara had an exceptional day offensively, going 4-4 from the plate.

The young ‘Lopes began section play at home this past Monday by defeating Mohawk 8-4.

“They did a nice job,” said first-year head coach Dan Pomposelli. “They get better every time they take the field.”

Matt Cubellis got the start for the Antelopes on the mound, but the Knights took advantage of a run-scoring double in the top of the first to take an early 1-0 lead. Avonworth countered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning to take over the lead.

Turner Grau was walked to begin the inning but was forced out at second base on Alex Osborn’s grounder to third base. Brandon Cerminara followed with base hit to right field that advanced Osborn to third base before Jack Reed’s sacrifice fly ball brought Osborn home to put the Antelopes on the scoreboard.

With Cerminara at second base, Jacob Gustic singled into right field to drive in a run to put the ‘Lopes in front 2-1.

Cerminara set the Knights down in order with two strike-outs and a ground-out to third base before Avonworth added to their lead in the bottom of the second.

Ryan Felter began the inning with a walk and advanced to third base on Grau’s hit to right field. Grau was then called out at second base on a steal attempt, but Felter was able to get home on the play, putting the ‘Lopes in front 3-1.

Knoch was able to take advantage of a walk and a couple of base hits in the top of the third that produced two runs to put the teams at a 3-3 tie.

Felter took over on the mound for Cerminara in the top of the fourth and did a great job of shutting down the Knights over the next three innings while the Antelopes were able to reclaim the lead.

Avonworth had their best inning with three runs coming in the bottom of the fifth.

The inning began with a hit by Grau followed by a walk issued to Osborn to put two runners on. The ‘Lopes succeeded in a double steal to move the runners into scoring position when Reed delivered a two-run single to right field that put Avonworth in front 5-3.

Reed had advanced to second and then third bases before Cerminara flared a single near the right field line to bring in a run for a 6-3 lead.

Consecutive walks issued to Jake Sommers and Grau would lead to a couple more runs for Avonworth in the bottom of the sixth inning.The first of those runs scored with a throwing error on Cerminara’s grounder to shortstop and Reed picked up an RBI with a sacrifice fly ball to up the lead to 8-3.

Mohawk finally got to Felter in the top of the seventh with three hits, but the ‘Lopes surrendered only one run to secure an 8-4 victory.

“We’ve been together since January – they’ve been all-in, full of enthusiasm and excitement and play the game the right way,” said Pomposelli of his players.

Avonworth traveled to New Brighton this past Wednesday and won 9-3 in section play to improve to 3-0 on the season.

The ‘Lopes exploded for seven runs in the fourth inning, which was highlighted by Osborn’s two-run homer.

Grau earned the victory on the mound, striking out eight batters while giving up one earned run.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Pomposelle, who spent seven seasons at North Allegheny as an assistant before arriving here.

“I’m excited for the team that I have.”