Last updated: June 07. 2013 12:25AM - 2339 Views
By - dlevarse@timesleader.com - (570) 991-6396

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OREFIELD — Drenched and disappointed, Wyoming Valley West saw its season end by a matter of feet.

One more foot toward center field, and Joe Pechulis’ shot would have gone into the gap for a run-scoring double. A few more on Jeremy Sabecky’s fly to left could have scored another two.

Both ended up in the mitt of a Pennridge fielder.

Instead of breaking Thursday’s state quarterfinal game open early, the Spartans were stopped by a terrific diving catch in the first and a tough over-the-shoulder grab in the second. The bats went quiet from there as the Spartans lost 3-1 in the PIAA Class 4A quarterfinals at Parkland High School.

Valley West (13-6) was held to just one hit over the final five innings as Pennridge wouldn’t allow the Spartans to build on an early 1-0 lead on a soggy afternoon.

In the middle of a persistent rain, the Rams broke through with two runs in the fourth to snap a 1-1 tie. An RBI triple by Jake Gordon turned into two runs when the relay throw sailed over the bag at third to make it 3-1.

“They made (those) big plays on us, and that was the turning point,” Valley West coach John Milius said. “Then we throw the ball away. … Could have been a 2-1 ballgame, probably. Or within striking range.

“But hey. One run, two runs, three runs (down) — you still lose.”

The Spartans had hoped to follow the script from Monday’s 2-0 first-round win over Exeter by striking early.

Sabecky reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the first and went to second on a sacrifice. With two outs, Iona-bound Nick Hogan roped a single to left to score Sabecky, who beat the throw to the plate.

Right fielder Joe Unangst then kept Valley West from adding to the lead, leaving his feet to rob Pechulis of extra bases and an RBI.

Pennridge (20-7) responded in the second, snapping a streak of nine scoreless innings by Valley West pitchers in the postseason. A leadoff double by A.J. Molettiere led to a Tyler Shoultes sac fly that tied it up.

Molettiere came up big in the field after that, tracking down Sabecky’s tricky poke toward the fence in left with two outs and two aboard. He then doubled again in the fourth, scoring on Gordon’s triple.

With the weather worsening, Valley West didn’t recover as hitters began to press at the plate.

“Right. Exactly,” Milius said. “Down 3-1, they’re looking for a pitch and they get behind in the count. Instead of sitting on a fastball or a curveball up, they’re going out of the strike zone.”

The struggles came against three different Rams pitchers.

Starter Trevor Dalton was pulled after just two innings of work. Rams coach Tom Nuneviller brought on David Tatoian — typically the team’s closer — in the third. He looked sharp, striking out three of the first five batters he faced.

“We felt fairly comfortable when he went in. He was going after guys,” said Nuneviller, a former Phillies prospect who played a season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons.

But midway through an at-bat in the fourth, Tatoian suffered an elbow injury. The Rams were forced to take him out, depriving them not only of an effective pitcher but also one of their top hitters.

“I thought we had a chance” after the second pitching change, Milius said. “They were using probably their fourth guy. Maybe he didn’t get a lot of reps. But he came in and shut us right down. He did a yeoman’s job. A great job.”

Valley West put two men on against new pitcher Eric Wesolowski with two outs in the bottom of the fifth but couldn’t push across another run.

Wesolowski retired the final seven batters he faced to earn the win in relief.

“Eric’s a tough kid. I’ve seen him pitch since he was 8 or 9 years old,” Nuneviller said. “He competes. Not a big kid, not going to intimidate you out there on the mound. But you can’t measure that heart.”

Milius used the same word to describe his group of seniors, which led the Spartans to the state quarters for a second straight year.

“They got a lot of heart,” Milius said. “They worked their tails off. Nobody gave us a chance to be here. Who would say with an 0-3 record (to start the season) that we’d be one of the top eight in the state? That’s a credit to our kids.

“They worked very hard for me and they believed in each other.”

Pennridge 3, Wyoming Valley West 1

PIAA Class 4A quarterfinals


Danny Shane cf`4`0`1`0`0`0`0

Brad Misialek ss`4`0`0`0`0`0`0

David Tatoian 2b-p`2`0`1`0`0`0`0

Eric Wesolowski p`1`0`0`0`0`0`0

Mike Kacergis c`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

A.J. Molettiere lf-2b`3`2`2`0`2`0`0

Jake Gordon 1b`3`1`2`1`0`1`0

Trevor Dalton p`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Josh Apple lf`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Tyler Shoultes dh`1`0`1`1`0`0`0

Sam Suder pr`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Joe Unangst rf`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Ben Morina 3b`2`0`0`0`0`0`0

Aaron Herndon ph`1`0`0`0`0`0`0


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

Jeremy Sabecky cf`4`1`0`0`0`0`0

Ricky Stayer rf`1`0`0`0`0`0`0

Mike Leonard 2b`3`0`1`0`0`0`0

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

Chris Nixon p`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Joe Pechulis dh`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Evan McCue 1b`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

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

Matt Labashosky 3b`3`0`1`0`0`0`0

Colin Harrison c`2`0`1`0`0`0`0

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



Valley West`100`000`0`—`1




Wesolowski (W)`3.1`1`0`0`1`1

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

Nixon (L)`7.0`7`3`3`1`0

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