Pitching tandem leads Quaker Valley to PIAA victories
For a baseball team to make a run in the PIAA playoffs, it needs to have a strong pitching core.
That is one of the many luxuries Quaker Valley has this season.
The Quakers have been able to rely on the arms of the dynamic duo of senior Jake Pilewicz and sophomore Tyler Garbee. The pair are a major force behind the team's staunch defense that entered the week allowing an average of 2.46 runs per game.
“We also have (junior) Matt Delie who we haven't had to use yet in the playoffs,” Quaker Valley coach Todd Goble said. “Having the pitching staff we have gives us confidence. We know we will be in games because of them.”
The 1-2 punch of Garbee and Pilewicz was able to pick up wins in the opening rounds of the PIAA Class AA playoffs last week. In the first round, Garbee got the start and Pilewicz came in as relief in the final three innings as the Quakers held on for a 6-5 win over Saegertown.
Garbee got the start again in the quarterfinals against Shady Side Academy. The junior was helped by the offense as the Quakers' first four batters — Clayton Bouchard, T.J. Kuny, Nelson Westwood and Pilewicz — rattled off singles. A double by Ben Utterback later in the inning gave Quaker Valley a 4-0 lead it would not surrender the rest of the game.
“It helps a lot,” Garbee said. “It takes the pressure off. If I give up a run or two, I know it will be OK because we will score runs.”
Garbee would go on to pitch five innings, recording five strikeouts and giving up no walks.
“I didn't find out I was pitching until I got here, and a half-hour before the game coach calls me in and throws me the ball,” Garbee said. “I figured it was my time. I want to help the team whatever way I can.”
The Indians mounted a comeback in the bottom of the fourth and cut Quaker Valley's lead to 5-3. But some timely hits and Pilewicz's pitching during the final two innings propelled Quaker Valley into the semifinals.
It was the Quakers' third postseason win at Fox Chapel. Quaker Valley defeated Freeport, 6-1, and Deer Lakes, 4-0, during the WPIAL playoffs on the same field.
“I like the turf field personally,” Garbee said. “The pitching mound is very nice. It is fun being out here.”
The pair of wins in the PIAA tournament is a welcome return to form for the Quakers. The team dropped its first game of the season to Beaver, 7-1, in the WPIAL title game. While some questioned how the team would handle the setback, Quaker Valley just went back to work after taking one day off from practice.
“Am I happy how we rebounded? Absolutely,” Goble said. “But am I shocked? No. This is what these guys are all about. These guys just focus on the next game and try to get better.”