Last updated: June 03. 2013 11:55PM - 3511 Views
By - dlevarse@timesleader.com - (570) 991-6396

BILL TARUTIS/FOR THE TIMES LEADERWyoming Valley West shortstop Chris McCue, right, get in position for a rundown as third baseman Matt Labashosky makes the throw in first round PIAA Class 4A baseball action Monday afternoon in Hughestown.
BILL TARUTIS/FOR THE TIMES LEADERWyoming Valley West shortstop Chris McCue, right, get in position for a rundown as third baseman Matt Labashosky makes the throw in first round PIAA Class 4A baseball action Monday afternoon in Hughestown.
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HUGHESTOWN — A month ago, this might have sunk the Spartans.

Clinging to a narrow lead in the fourth inning, Wyoming Valley West saw its opponent load the bases. Surrendering a hit may have been enough to cost the Spartans the game.

“That’s right,” Valley West coach John Milius said. “(Earlier in the season), they probably would have rolled over.”

That team is no more. The squad that shut down Exeter 2-0 in the first round of the state tournament on Monday is looking mighty resilient.

Dan Flaherty pitched his way out of that fourth-inning jam and threw a four-hit shutout to put his team on top in the opening round of the PIAA Class 4A bracket at Pittston Area Primary Center. The recharged Spartans (13-5) have now won nine straight as they head into the state quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.

That game will be on Thursday against the winner of today’s matchup between La Salle College and Pennridge at a time and site to be announced.

To get there, the Spartans needed their best performance of the season from Flaherty. Given the big stage of the state tournament, it may have been his best outing on the mound at any level of play.

“It’s up there, definitely,” Flaherty said. “This is the most fun I’ve had, too.”

Flaherty and the Spartans got some early breathing room thanks to RBI singles by Mike Leonard and Evan McCue in the first inning.

Valley West had three hits in that opening frame. They were the only three they would get all afternoon.

With little room for error, Flaherty had to overcome that spot in the fateful fourth. With two men on and no outs, the Spartans were able to catch Exeter’s lead runner between second and third following a failed bunt attempt to get a critical out.

“(The runner) was past the shortstop. He was giving us daylight,” Milius said. “It was either that or pick him off. But his secondary lead was bigger than his primary lead, and that’s when we decided to throw back.”

“That’s just huge,” Flaherty said. “Huge.”

But it wasn’t over yet. Flaherty sandwiched a strikeout in between a walk and a hit batter.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Flaherty reached back and picked up his second strikeout of the inning to keep the score at 2-0 and raise the team’s spirits.

“There’s a big sigh (of relief) in the dugout,” Milius said. “And it’s just elation. You’re ready to go. I think they had doubts at first. But then when (Flaherty) got out of it, they got on the bandwagon. After that, I heard nothing but noise out of that dugout.”

The sequence was particularly deflating for Exeter. The Eagles had lost 1-0 in the District 3 championship game last week and were on the wrong side of a no-hitter when they were eliminated from their conference tournament.

“Lots of games we’ve started slow offensively, but the second time through the order, we picked it up,” Exeter coach Justin Freese said.

“All the momentum shifted when they got out of that (fourth) inning. If we get one or two, the momentum goes all our way.”

Not on this day.

Though Valley West managed just two baserunners against Exeter starter Joe Richie after the first inning — an error in the fifth and a walk in the sixth — Flaherty made it stand up.

The senior faced the minimum nine batters in the final three innings for the complete-game victory, allowing only a bunt single in the fifth that was quickly erased by a double play.

“Our kid ran into some problems there, he loaded the bases,” Milius said. “But it worked out. He hit his spots. He had a lot of confidence.”

And now, so do the Spartans.

Wyoming Valley West 2, Exeter 0

PIAA Class 4A first round


Derian Sarlat c`3`0`1`0`0`0`0

Ben Bortz 3b`3`0`2`0`1`0`0

Alex Dundore rf`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Joe Richie p`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Andrew Hertzog dh`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Matt Napkora lf`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Derrick Jackson 2b`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Scott Galbraith 1b`3`0`1`0`0`0`0

Hunter Hart cf`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Corey Rowley ss`3`0`0`0`0`0`0


Wyoming Valley West`AB`R`H`BI`2B`3B`HR

Jeremy Sabecky cf`3`1`1`0`0`0`0

Ricky Stayer rf`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Ryan Hogan ph`1`0`0`0`0`0`0

Mike Leonard 2b`2`0`1`1`0`0`0

Nick Hogan lf`3`1`0`0`0`0`0

Dan Flaherty p`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Joe Pechulis dh`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Evan McCue 1b`2`0`1`1`0`0`0

Chris McCue ss`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Matt Labashosky 3b`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Colin Harrison c`2`0`0`0`0`0`0



Wyoming Valley West`200`000`x`—`2


Richie (L)`6.0`3`2`2`2`4

Valley West`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Flaherty (W)`7.0`4`0`0`3`4

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