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Improving Jeannette baseball team to wrap season this week

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit
Michael Wise hits a single to left field in a Jayhawks game this season.
John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit
Jayhawk Jordan Nalevanko winds up for a pitch.

A season of missed opportunities and close calls for Jeannette baseball culminated last week in two losses that saw the Jayhawks fall out of playoff contention, but the season has been a step forward for a program that struggled to win games the past two seasons.

“We have a chance to get to 10 wins,” said head coach Marcus Clarkson. “If you look back you will not find too many Jeannette teams in the last 40 years who won 10 games.”

Coming off of a 6-12 season in 2012, and 4-13 in 2011, Clarkson was hoping he had a core group of players who could get Jeannette back to the playoff for the first time since 2010.

The Jayhawks had a chance last week with two section games against teams ahead of them in the standings, but it did not materialize for the Jayhawks.

Jeannette traveled to Steel Valley last Monday for a key game in the elusive playoff hunt and dropped a well-played, well-pitched heartbreaker, 4-3 in 10 innings.

“The Steel Valley game was one of the best high school baseball games I have ever seen or been a part of,” said Clarkson. “It was a shame that we had to lose that game.”

Senior Garett Elliott got the start for Jeannette and threw more than 150 pitches on nine innings. Clarkson could not say enough about the job Elliott did in trying to help the Jayhawks win.

“What can you say about a pitcher that throws more than 150 pitches over nine innings?” said Clarkson. “When he came off of the mound in the seventh he said, ‘this is my game,' and I had to respect that and let him go.”

The Jayhawks scratched out a run in the top of the tenths on a Jordan Edmunds double and Michael Wise single. Steel Valley came back in the bottom of the frame against sophomore Tony Mash.

A leadoff single tipped off of Mash's glove and a double to right center fell just out of the reach of center fielder Chris Steffen.

Steel Valley scored to tie the game at three and plated the winning run on a squeeze bunt that fell in gap between Mash and the third base line — not so far that Mash had a play but far enough to get the job done.

The loss forced Jeannette to beat Shady Side Academy last Wednesday, but the Jayhawks were not sharp early and lost 9-6. The loss mathematically eliminated the Jayhawks from the playoff race.

Jeannette finished its season this week with games against Greensburg Central Catholic and St. Joseph.

WPIAL Section 4-AA:

Shady Side Academy (9-2) (12-4)

Steel Valley (9-2) (10-5)

Greensburg Central Catholic (8-3) (10-4)

Jeannette (6-5) (8-6)

East Allegheny (3-8) (4-12)

Southmoreland (3-9) (6-11)

South Allegheny (1-10) (3-13)

Dave Moio is a freelance writer.

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