After loss to Baldwin, McKeesport baseball trending toward another spiral

| Friday, April 12, 2013, 11:03 p.m.

McKeesport coach Rich Satcho refers to it simply as “the spiral.”

Two years ago, the spiral began after the Tigers blew a seventh-inning lead against defending Quad-A champ Peters Township and lost in extra innings. McKeesport went on to lose the next 10 games.

Last year, the spiral was two close early-season losses to Bethel Park and Peters Township that sent the Tigers to 12 losses in 13 games.

It appears that McKeesport is taking that same path this year.

Since losing to Franklin Regional on a controversial seventh-inning call Monday, McKeesport has been outscored, 18-1, including Friday's lackluster 11-1 Section 3-AAAA loss to Baldwin at Helen Richey Field.

“Am I concerned that the spiral is happening again?” Satcho said. “Yes, I am.”

And you really can't blame him.

McKeesport's uninspired performance against Baldwin (2-5, 1-2) included eight walks, six wild pitches/passed balls, four unearned runs, three errors and three hit batters.

“We have some work to do here, but we do have some talent,” Satcho said. “This is the best talent team we've had here. It is not because of a lack of work or a lack of effort. We still work our behinds off to be the best we can.”

Starter Eddie Stockett couldn't get out of the second inning and picked up the loss for McKeesport (1-4, 0-2). He allowed five runs on three hits while walking four before giving way to Colton Joseph. Joseph didn't fare much better, giving up five runs, three hits and walking four. He did strike out five.

“Those were our No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers,” Satcho said. “And we just didn't have it.”

Baldwin's Alex Pantuso did.

Pantuso tossed a two-hitter while striking out eight over five innings and not allowing a hit over the final 4 13 innings. Tony Martinez and Dylan Finnochi had two hits, while Nick Bernick and Christian Hirt knocked in a pair of runs.

“It was almost like when we pitched, we couldn't hit. And when we hit, we couldn't pitch this year,” Baldwin coach Dan Caponi said. “We have a young team, and once they believe that they can win as opposed to going out and waiting to lose, good things happen.”

What hurt McKeesport the most was the walks. Out of the eight Baldwin batters who walked, five scored.

“You can't defend a walk,” Caponi said. “You string a couple hits behind that, and, all of a sudden, you put some pressure on them. These are high school kids. They get nervous and make mistakes. It is what happens.”

That's exactly what happened in the top of the first. Three Stockett walks plus a couple hits and a throwing error helped Baldwin to a 3-0 lead.

Two walks and two hit batters along with a throwing error and three more Baldwin hits gave the Highlanders an 8-0 lead after two innings.

“We were just dead after that,” Satcho said. “You can't self-motivate kids. Baseball is that sport that you have to enjoy and really want it to perform at a high level. It is a team sport, but individuals have to throw it, field it and hit it.”

McKeesport got a single by Stockett and an RBI double by Zach Craven, but that was about it offensively for the Tigers.

“When you don't get anybody on base you can't run any type of offensive play. You can't bunt them over, you can't do hit-and-runs, you can't steal,” Satcho said. “It's baseball. You can have a bad day then come out and put a couple good days together.”

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