Quaker Valley relishes experience of victory at PNC Park
When Quaker Valley senior Nelson Westwood took his first at-bat at PNC Park on Sunday, he couldn't deny he felt anxious.
But one hit brought that to an end.
“Stepping up to the plate, I could feel some nerves,” Westwood said. “Not really from being nervous but from excitement. I was a little shaky at first, but as soon as I got a hit on the first pitch, I felt better.”
Westwood recorded three hits — including an inside-the-park home run that broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth inning — to lead the Quakers to a 5-3 nonsection win over Southmoreland.
The Scotties got an early lead after scoring three runs in the bottom of the second. While it might of been tough to watch for some coaches, first-year Quakers coach Todd Goble welcomed the deficit.
“I was glad it happened,” Goble said. “We haven't really ran into that this year. It was the perfect opportunity to see how we would react. I was sure this group would keep plugging along and playing hard. But it was nice to see it actually happen.”
The Quakers didn't take long to responded as senior Clayton Bouchard started the top of the third with a triple to left field and a single from senior T.J. Kuny drove him home to cut the deficit to two.
Westwood and senior Jake Pilewicz followed with singles to tie the score at 3-3.
The Quakers took the lead for good in the top of the fifth when Westwood connected on a ball the got past the Scottie outfielders.
“I thought it was just going to be a line drive to center field,” Westwood said. “I was rounding second, and I was being waved home. I heard all the fans cheering, and I thought I might as well go for it.”
Quaker Valley recorded its last run in the top of the seventh when a wild pitch allowed junior Jake Laurmer to steal home from third.
Westwood added a double and a single to his home run. Pilewicz was also 3 for 3, with two singles and a double.
Quaker Valley spread the pitching duties around, using seven different players on the mound. It wasn't a move of necessity but more of trying to get as many pitchers to the big-league mound as possible.
“The pitchers got one inning each,” Goble said. “We did it on purpose because some guys haven't gotten time on the mound. They got to work today and actually threw well. We got a lot of strikes from guys their first time out.”
The pitchers shut Southmoreland down in the final three innings, as Pilewicz recorded two strikeouts in the fifth, Roberto Gibson had three in the sixth and junior Ben Utterback had two in the seventh.
The Scotties and Quaker Valley faced off at PNC Park after each squad sold tickets to an upcoming Pirates game.
The win improved the Quakers to 4-0 on the season, a start the Quakers said comes from focusing on the fine details of the game.
“Most of the time it is just the little things,” Kuny said. “We do all the little things right and then make plays on the field. I feel pretty confident. I think that if we keep doing what we have done for the most part this season it will go pretty well.”
The 4-0 start includes a 2-0 record in Section 1-AA, where the Quakers are in a three-way tie with New Brighton and Seton-La Salle atop the standings. With 12 of its next 13 games against section opponents, Quaker Valley is out to prove the start isn't a fluke.
“I think it's kind of cool we weren't expected to be No. 1 in our section, but we are playing well,” Pilewicz said. “I think we are going to surprise some people, that's for sure.”