Baseball team steals PIAA championship from defending champs

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Tyler Krchmar

Eric Chalus, Jr. pitches during the Hawks’ early playoff win vs. Chartiers Valley.

On Thursday, June 17, the Hawks traveled to Penn State’s Medlar Field to face the defending PIAA champions Red Land who boast a star-studded cast led by a projected first-round MLB draft pick in Benny Montgomery.

This reputation didn’t phase the Hawks. Instead, they embraced the underdog rule and came out swinging in the first inning to take an early 3-0 lead. After one more run in the second, the Hawks held onto the lead despite being tested multiple times.

In the end, they walked away with the 4-2 win and their first PIAA championship since 1988.

Bethel Park defeated Red Land, 4-2, in the PIAA Class 5A state title game at Penn State’s Medlar Field Thursday.

Red Land won a state title in 2019, and the 2020 baseball championships did not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the first inning, the Hawks started it off with a bang, scoring three runs via a Cody Geddes two-RBI double and a Zack Sackett RBI groundout. The Hawks would also go on to score another run in the second inning, bringing their lead to 4-0.

Different day… same result for Eric Chalus. He continued his dominance on the mound en route to his eleventh win on the season. Bethel’s pitcher Eric Chalus, a Kent State commit, held the Patriots’ talented lineup to two runs on seven hits while striking out six batters in six innings. Red Land put runners on base numerous times throughout the game but struggled to turn that into big innings.

Red land cut their deficit to two runs in the fifth but had runners on first and third when Chalus executed a double play to end the inning.

Chalus exited the game due to the PIAA pitch limit of 105, and new pitcher Cody Geddes would enter in the seventh.

Geddes hit Red Land superstar Benny Montgomery with a pitch to start the inning then allowed a double to dangerous power hitter Cole Wagner; however, with runners on second and third, Geddes got Red Land’s no. 3 hitter to ground out and cleanup batter to strike out. He then got Brady Ebbert to ground out to second base to end the game.

When asked how it felt to close out the PIAA championship game, Geddes said: “It felt amazing, my heart was racing the whole time, and I knew I couldn’t let these guys down. I’m so glad we got this win. We worked so hard for this all year.”

The Hawks would go onto dog pile on the edge of the infield grass closest to shortstop. This moment captured Bethel Park’s first PIAA championship since 1988.

This would cap off Bethel’s incredible playoff run. The Hawks are the only 5A team in the state to end their season on a win.

Eric Chalus said: “It was so important to all of us to win the championship. We knew from day one that we wanted to win it all, and especially after losing the WPIAL championship, we all were more hungry for this.”

The team consisted of selfless, versatile, and gutsy players. This team supported each other from day one, played with respect, and battled adversity through it all.

This playoff run will always be remembered forever. Thanks to the Bethel Park community, Bethel baseball boosters, staff members, coaches, and fans for the support all year long.

ROLL HAWKS FOREVER.

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