For most of the season, West Mifflin looked like the team to beat in the American Legion Allegheny South playoffs.
But one game into the tournament, it is one loss from elimination.
West Mifflin (10-2-1) came back in the bottom of the seventh to send its game with Upper St. Clair into extra innings but could not do so again as an eighth-inning rally came up short in a 9-8 loss in the second round of the playoffs. West Mifflin went in as the top seed and received a first-round bye and now must work its way back to a championship repeat from the losers' bracket.
“It's a blur to me. We were so bad that we didn't deserve to win this game,” West Mifflin coach Tom Simcho said. “We were awful. You have your ‘A' game, your ‘B' game and your ‘C' game, and we were pathetic. You might contribute that to rust because a few of them hadn't played in a while, but that's no excuse.”
West Mifflin will play Elizabeth in an elimination game at 6 p.m. Monday at Peterswood Park. Elizabeth lost to Bethel Park, 2-0, in its opener Saturday but defeated South Allegheny, 12-4, in the losers' bracket in Sunday's nightcap.
“I'm hoping our attitude has changed and they're coming around,” Elizabeth coach John Hresko said. “West Mifflin is not unbeatable, but we have to have our ‘A' game.”
For West Mifflin, its loss was a continuation of the same type of play — and ill-fortune — that saw the team go 0-1-1 in its last two regular season games after opening the year with 10 consecutive victories. The team mustered only five hits, and the Nos. 4-7 batters went 1 for 11.
Upper St. Clair helped West Mifflin hang around by leaving the bases loaded four times in the first five innings and stranding 16 in the game. West Mifflin had only five hits but worked Upper St. Clair pitchers for 10 walks.
“We just had fundamental mistakes all the way around,” Simcho said. “Pitching wasn't good at all, the sticks weren't good, we didn't have many hits against a pitcher we should hit. They looked like they were going to walk on this field and walk all over this team like they expected to win because they're West Mifflin.”
West Mifflin trailed, 6-2, heading into the bottom of the fifth but came up with three runs — two on a two-out throwing error — to get back to within one.
West Mifflin sent it to extras in the bottom of the seventh when Chuck Scales drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on Ryan Kandsberger's single to left. Kandsberger moved to second on the throw to the plate to give West Mifflin hope.
Everett Lesko ripped a shot down the third-base line that appeared ticketed for the left-field corner. But Upper St. Clair third baseman Will Erlanger made a diving catch and was able to double Kandsberger off second to end the inning.
Even after Upper St. Clair scored three in the top of the eighth, West Mifflin forged another comeback. With the bases loaded and two outs, Zach Lapko and Scales both worked RBI walks to get the team back within one, but Kandsberger hit a grounder to third to end the game.
How West Mifflin gets ready for a team it beat by a combined 15-4 in two regular season games remains to be seen.
“That's on them,” Simcho said. “If you don't have any pride and you don't come back with a win (Monday), then I don't know what to tell you. You don't deserve to make it to the regional tournament.”
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.