Errors cost Burrell in first-round loss

| Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 8:50 p.m.

Most of Burrell's losses this season have resulted from mental and physical errors.

Tuesday, errors the Bucs a WPIAL playoff game and brought an end to the season.

Brownsville built an early lead, aided by unearned runs, and the cushion proved to be pivotal as the Falcons survived a late Burrell rally to post a 5-3 victory at Woodland Hills High School.

The Class AA first-round victory, Brownsville's sixth in a row overall, put the Falcons (16-5) into the quarterfinal round today against top-ranked Ellwood City at Pullman Park at 7 p.m.

Burrell, in the playoffs for the 14th consecutive season, finished 10-8.

“Quite a lot of errors the first couple innings,” Bucs coach Mark Spohn said. “We got behind and tried to battle back but came up short.”

Junior right-hander Tyler Spohn, no relation to the Burrell coach, went the distance for Brownsville, though he allowed 14 baserunners.

For Burrell, Matt Cercone took the loss, but errors contributed.

For example, Fred Heiser, Brownsville's No. 2 hitter, could have been out three times in the first inning.

After Phil Gnus opened with a single, Heiser hit a ball on the right side just where Burrell second baseman Mike Mazur had to vacate when Gnus broke for second.

After a balk, Tyler Spohn's grounder was gobbled up by Cody Wolfe, who threw to first with Gnus holding at third.

Heiser, however, ran to third but managed to get back to second when Burrell was slow to make a play.

Two batters later, Noah Saxon hit a bouncer to the mound, but the throw for the force play at third bounced awry, and Heiser was safe.

Hesiser later scored on a bases-loaded walk.

In the second, after Gnus led off with another single, Heiser blasted a drive over the head of Burrell center fielder Austin Awes. A missed cut-off throw led to another run, and Heiser scored on a single by Tyler Spohn to make it 4-0 Brownsville.

Three straight Falcons singles in the third allowed Brownsville to take a 5-0 lead.

After Burrell stranded five runners on base over the first four innings, the Bucs finally broke through in the fifth.

Nick Artman led off with a double for Burrell's first hit and scored on Mazur's single. A Tyler Reynolds double in the sixth scored Austin Devore.

Awes led off the seventh with a walk, and Mazur was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game.

Brownsville coach Skooter Roebuck visited the mound, but left Tyler Spohn in.

“I was giving him one more hitter,” Roebuck said. “I told my assistant to have the closer warmed up because he (Spohn) started to have problems walking and with a hit batter.”

With the bases loaded and one out, Justin Smith hit a drive to right field that looked as if it could tie the game.

But freshman Devin Braddock, inserted for defensive purposes, snared the drive while Awes tagged up and scored.

“Not a whole lot I could tell them to make them feel better,” coach Spohn said after a brief, post-game meeting in right field. “They know what they did, and I know what they did.”

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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