Steel Valley can't hold lead in first-round loss
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Throughout the regular season, Steel Valley made a living out of playing the underdog role and coming from behind in clutch situations.
When the Ironmen hit the playoff stage, they could neither hold onto a the lead nor come back.
Chartiers-Houston (12-7) erased an early three-run deficit and scored a pair of gift runs in the top of the fourth to take a 7-5 victory in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs Monday at Upper St. Clair's Boyce Mayview Park. It is the third consecutive year and fifth time in the last six seasons the Ironmen (12-6) have been knocked out in the first round.
Steel Valley last won a postseason game in 2009 when it defeated Washington in a preliminary-round matchup before losing to Freedom in the first round. The Ironmen last got past the first round in 2006 when they made it to the WPIAL Class AA semifinals and qualified for the state tournament. But like their previous five trips to the postseason, they were stymied out of the gate.
“We have been successful at coming back. You have to credit that pitcher,” Steel Valley coach Tim Vickers said. “Almost every one of our rallies through the year was the result of a pitcher getting behind in the count or us getting a base runner or two on, but that kid got the lead and that was it.”
Chartiers-Houston starter Dylan Pounds was tagged for five runs in the first two innings and appeared at times on the brink of letting the game get away from him. But the Bucs' starter settled into a rhythm and mowed down Steel Valley batters seemingly at will.
“Dylan really settled down after the first two innings,” Chartiers-Houston coach Adam Petras said. “He was in jams early, his pitch count was way up, and he was able to get out of it, and that's a testament to the kind of pitcher that he is.”
Even when he gave up hits in the early innings, Pounds kept the ball down in the strike zone and made Steel Valley work for everything it got. He allowed only three hits after the Ironmen opened up a 5-2 lead in the second inning. He struck out seven and did not allow a fly-ball out in the game.
He wasn't the only one who struggled in the early going. Steel Valley sophomore Jesse Cantley was erratic through his first four innings as five of the batters he walked came around to score. He also threw a pair of wild pitches that helped Chartiers-Houston plate the two go-ahead runs in the fourth.
Despite some shaky early innings, neither coach had any inclination of yanking his starter until Cantley came out with two down in the sixth.
“I didn't look at those guys coming out of the game whatsoever,” Vickers said. “If you look ahead to round two and both of us looking at either Shady Side (Academy) or Riverside, you go with the guy you're with at that point.”
Now, Steel Valley is looking ahead to next season. After winning their first section title since 1994, the Ironmen have a solid foundation on which to continue building the program.
“We weren't picked to do anything at the start of the season, but it's a process,” Vickers said. “We've been a perennial playoff team, but we haven't been real successful when we've gotten here. But to win the section, that's a step in the right direction.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
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.
- Undersized Beachum quietly excels at 1 of game’s pivotal positions
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu, Taylor unlikely to play, Harrison ‘ready’
- Pitt: Football coach hire comes 1st, athletic director 2nd
- Michigan State defensive coordinator a Pitt coaching candidate
- Pirates sign Corey Hart to 1-year deal
- Penguins’ defensive depth proves valuable
- Hotel building boom sweeps Pittsburgh region
- Brass plaque stolen from McKeesport veterans memorial
- Penguins notebook: Kunitz ‘really close’ to return
- Man involved with crash with officer dies in Pittsburgh hospital
- Port Authority fires two bus drivers involved in rollover crash