Seneca Valley’s magical ride continues.
The Raiders twice scored runs without getting a hit in the inning. Senior Alex Hajduk pitched six solid innings to notch a 4-2 win over Moon in the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA baseball playoffs Monday at Kelly Automotive Park.
The win was the fifth consecutive postseason triumph for SV (11-11), which qualified for the WPIAL tournament with a 6-11 record.
“Coach told us all year that you can’t flip a switch ... but it feels like we’ve flipped a switch,” senior center fielder John Harper said.
“We’re on a roll. We’re just playing ball right now, having fun.”
Hajduk had not pitched at all this postseason before Monday. Moon hit a lot of loud outs — but outs, nonetheless.
“They hit some at ‘em balls, no doubt about that,” SV coach Eric Semega said. “But we played good defense, too. That’s part of that.”
The Raiders tied the score at one in the first inning as Harper and Johnny Brittner both walked and moved up on wild pitches. Harper scored on a second wild pitch.
Doubles by Harper, Brittner and Vince Augustine in the third gave SV a 3-1 lead. The Raiders took a 4-2 lead in the fourth when Matt Wagner walked, moved to second on a wild pitch, to third on Corbin Kessler’s sacrifice bunt and scored on John Davis’ sacrifice fly to right.
“We didn’t do a very good job of holding runners close today and they burned us,” Moon coach Dom Santeufemio said. “They made those walks hurt. That was a big part of this win for them.”
Harper said aggressive base-running is part of the Raiders’ game.
“We practice bunting all of the time and we’re taught to take off as soon as we see a curve ball hit the dirt,” he said.
“It’s about anticipation,” Semega said. “Once that curve ball breaks and hits the dirt, it doesn’t matter where it goes ... We’re gone.”
Moon scored its runs on two-out RBI singles by Mason Prickett and Brian Shaffer in the first and third innings, respectively. The Tigers lined into four outs in the first three innings, including a double play on a hit-and-run to end the third.
Hajduk allowed only four hits and walked just two despite throwing just 49 of his 89 pitches for strikes. Connor Coward pitched the final inning, striking out two for the save.
“Alex gave us a gutsy effort. He threw strikes when he needed to,” Semega said.
The Tigers’ Austin Hoffman ended the fifth with a fly out to Harper in deep center with a runner on base. After Rocco Maue walked to begin the Moon sixth, Prickett drove a ball to deep left.
Left fielder Matt Rafferty made an over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track to deny Prickett extra bases.
“That may have been the difference in the game right there,” Semega said of the catch.
Moon averaged 7.5 runs per game during the regular season.
“If we’re not playing this game here, those are two home runs,” Santeufemio said. “But we were playing this game here. Those are the breaks.
“I thought we could have beaten that team today. Sometimes, the breaks don’t go your way.”