Burrell left to wonder what could have been against top-seeded Quaker Valley
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Just moments removed from the end of his team's season, Burrell baseball coach Mark Spohn could only shrug, force a chuckle and go philosophical.
The Bucs won six of their final seven games during the regular season to slip into the WPIAL Class AA playoffs as the lowest seed — barely extending their streak of consecutive seasons qualifying to 16.
Yet there Burrell was, highly competitive and merely a clutch hit or a nifty defensive play away from upsetting an undefeated No. 1 seed in the first round.
In losing, 6-3, to Quaker Valley on Monday at Hampton High School, the Bucs showed what could have been.
“They made every play they should have,” Spohn said, “and we had a couple we should have had that we didn't. That's the difference between winning and losing.”
Nelson Westwood had two hits, three RBI and a run for the Quakers (19-0), who advanced to play Freeport in the quarterfinals. Quaker Valley's Tyler Garbee allowed one run on six hits over six innings, and Jake Pilewicz retired Burrell in order in the seventh.
The Bucs (8-9) finished with fewer than 10 wins and with a losing record for the first time since the turn of the century.
“There's a fine line between them and us; that's what I told the kids,” Spohn said. “They don't see it from their perspective.
“The difference between good teams and average teams is just what we saw today. Some teams just have the ability to make the play when the play's there, and other teams don't.”
The Quakers walked only one batter and were more crisp in the field and on the basepaths. Spohn noted the substantial talent level of his players, but he also pointed to the unshakable nature of Quaker Valley.
“We haven't talked about a perfect record all year long,” Quakers coach Todd Goble said. “We talk about the next day and how we have to improve every game.”
The Bucs took an early lead when Austin Devore's two-out popup fell into shallow left to drive in Zac Abel in the top of the first.
But that lead lasted just a half inning. After the first two Quaker Valley hitters of the game reached base, Westwood tripled deep to left to drive in two and give the Quakers a lead they would never relinquish. Westwood scored two batters later on a groundout, and Garbee added an RBI single to make it 4-1.
After allowing four hits in the first inning, Burrell starter Ben Pish permitted five over the final five innings.
An RBI groundout by Corey Arabia in the fourth pulled the Bucs within two runs, but Quaker Valley got that run back in the bottom of the inning.
The Bucs pulled within 5-3 in the sixth. But not only did they leave three men on base when Shane Cornuet struck out to end the inning, but earlier in the sixth Burrell had baserunner thrown out.
“It was a closer game than the score seems,” Spohn said. “But they're (19-0) for a reason. We'll come back; we lose a few seniors, so we'll try to come back next year and see if we can't do any better.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.
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.
- Penguins lose hard-fought game to Blue Jackets in overtime
- Unabashed church pastors put politics front and center
- Contractor eyes early finish to work on New Stanton interchange of Interstate 70
- Unsung backups provide boost for Steelers defensive line
- Former Pirates pitcher Happ agrees to $36 million, 3-year deal with Blue Jays
- Starkey: Flashback Friday for Pitt
- Body found in Allegheny River in Harrison
- Puppy, pals come to rescue of Lower Burrell firefighters
- Gilbert, son of ex-Pitt football standout, commits to Panthers
- Pitt falls flat in finale loss to Miami
- Penguins notebook: Players prepared for tough schedule in minors