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Bensalem rallies to edge La Salle in 8, advances to PIAA-6A championship

Bensalem's Dave Barnett celebrates a run with his teammates during the Owls' PIAA-A semifinal against La Salle on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

ASTON >> La Salle got the opportunities it wanted Tuesday afternoon.

The Philadelphia Caholic League Offensive Player of the Year Andrew Cossetti had two chances to win the game and send the Explorers to the state championship.

Both times, however, the ball found the glove of a Bensalem outfielder.

La Salle lost to Bensalem, 5-4 in eight innings, in the PIAA Class 6A state semifinals at Bruder Field at Neumann University.

Cossetti’s first chance came in a 4-4 game in the bottom of the sixth inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, the senior catcher hit a long towering fly ball into the right-center field gap. Bensalem’s Keith Parrish covered a ton of ground to get under it.

In the eighth, Cossetti stepped up with the bases loaded and two outs, trailing, 5-4. He jumped on the first pitch and hit a fly ball into left-centerfield, where the Owls’ John Revell ran under it and made the catch to end the game.

“I put the ball hard in play both times,” Cossetti said. “Unfortunately today the wind was just blowing in and the field conditions didn’t allow for those balls to drop, plus they had a lot of speed out in the outfield so they were able to get to those balls. There’s nothing much more I could have done. I put my best swing on them and they just didn’t drop today.”

Bensalem head coach Harry Daut celebrates the Owl’s 5-4 win over La Salle in eight innings in their PIAA-6A semifinal on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

“With our offense, the guys who can hit a little bit, the first thing I notice when I walk to the field is what’s the wind doing,” La Salle coach Kyle Werman said. “You could feel it. It’s blowing me over right now blowing in. It’s one of those things — we can win regardless, but there’s no question that we scored three in the first, but there were two or three balls hit today — Andrew’s ball that first at-bat — that are no-doubt balls that either get out of the yard or are clear doubles — that today they’ve got a really athletic center fielder ran a ball down. That last ball was a gapper on any normal day but just hung up in the wind. Sometimes things just aren’t your day and that’s what my message was to my guys today.”

Bensalem faces District 7 champion Canon McMillan in the championship Friday at Penn State.

The Owls won the game in the top of the eighth inning when Damon Lavender led off with a single. A La Salle error on a bunt followed by a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out. Nick Fossile brought home the winning run with a sacrifice fly to left field.

“We’ve always been scrappy,” Bensalem’s Steve Aldrich said. “Just need to get those runs in. When we get those runs in we know our pitching and defense is good. We get those runs in, we win.”

The Explorers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Eric Marasheski singled, Cossetti got hit and Anthony Cossetti hit an RBI double. Shane Manieri knocked in both Cossettis with a two-run single.

Bensalem made it 3-1 in the fourth when Parish singled, moved to second on an errant pickoff move, third on a single and scored on an error.

La Salle pushed the lead right back to three in the bottom of the fourth. Owen Lawn reached on an error and scored when an outfielder mishandled Joe Sortino’s double to make it 4-1.

That lead held until the sixth inning. La Salle pitcher Joe Miller walked three of the first four batters in the inning before leaving the game with the bases loaded and Gavin Moretski came on to pitch.

La Salle’s Matt Acker runs down the baseline as Bensalem pitcher Stephen Aldrich tosses the ball to first during their PIAA-6A semifinal on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Revell scored on a grounder to make it 4-2 and Scott Rooney and Dom Grady scored on back-to-back pitches to tie the game.

Miller threw 5 1/3 innings for La Salle, allowing four runs on four hits while striking out three batters and walking three. Moretski took the loss in 2 2/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits.

Aldrich went six innings for the Owls. He struck out three batters to no walks and allowed four runs on nine hits. Nick Dean earned the win, throwing two shutout innings. He walked two batters to one strikeout and allowed two hits.

“Not really settled in but kept my composure,” Aldrich said of his ability to bounce back from the three-run first inning. “I didn’t let it get to me. I kept doing what I have to do.”

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