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Quaker Valley breaks out the bats at PNC Park

| Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley He
Quaker Valley's Ben Utterback takes a swing during a game against Highlands on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at PNC Park.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley He
Quaker Valley's Tyler Garbee dodges a pitch during a game against Highlands on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at PNC Park.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley He
Quaker Valley's Chris Tanabe looks to make a play at second base during a game against Highlands on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at PNC Park.

A trip to the big leagues might just provide the Quaker Valley baseball team the spark it has been looking for.

The Quakers recorded a 6-0 win over Highlands at PNC Park on Saturday. Despite struggling at the plate early in the season, the offensive was fluent as they recorded 12 hits. Coach Todd Goble is hopeful the team will be able to keep it up the rest of the season.

“It is a fun day and an opportunity for the kids to play on the big field where the pros do,” the second-year coach said. “We got 21 of 23 players into the game. We did what we needed to do. We played good defense and threw the ball well. We are still working on our hitting, especially situational hitting.”

The Quakers grabbed an early lead in the bottom of the first as Adam Pilewicz drove in Alex Tanabe on a single to right field. Later in the inning, Matt Delie stole home on a wild pitch. A Payton Russoniello single past the second baseman extended the lead to 3-0 in the third.

A Delie single in the bottom of the fourth allowed Christian Miller to make it home and a Ben Utterback single to right field helped build the lead to five. A Rams error in the sixth allowed Colin Hill to round out the scoring.

“This game was nothing but a positive,” Goble said. “It was 70 degrees, it was at PNC Park and the team played a good overall game. It can do nothing but helps us.”

The Quakers recorded their first regular season losses since the 2012 season last week as they fell to South Side Beaver, 3-0, and Seton-La Salle, 4-1. The combined one run scored is the lowest combined score of any two consecutive games since the Quakers dropped a 1-0 decision to Ambridge and fell 9-0 to Center during the 2005 season.

The Quakers at times have looked strong at the plate. They scored 16 against Cornell and 12 against Freedom. But the team has also lacked firepower. In addition to the pair of losses, Quaker Valley squeaked by Carlynton, 2-1.

The defense has been strong, though, as the team is giving up only 1.83 runs per game and has not given up more than four runs in a game this season.

“If pitching and defense is where you play well, that is OK,” Goble said “That is the way we need play. We're not swinging the bats real well and, until we do so, we need to play strong defense.”

The batting will need to pick up as the Quakers will be in one of the tighter playoff chases in Class AA. Seton-La Salle led Section 1-AA to start week with a 4-1 mark. South Side Beaver and New Brighton were close behind at 3-1 and Quaker Valley was fourth at 2-2.

“And you can't forget about Avonworth,” Goble said. “They just beat South Side. It helps you because you need to play good baseball every game. That helps if you make the playoffs. But it also a tough situation because there is no gimmie games and you have to play well each time you step on the field. I think it is going to go back and forth all season.”

Despite the bats being slow to warm up, there is no panic from the Quakers. Goble said while his team was unable to find timely hits in games, Quaker Valley has been in every game.

“If we're not swinging the bats well yet and we're right in games with the top teams, we must be right there with them,” Goble said. “It tells us we are not far off. We'll be OK.”

Quaker Valley hosts Ambridge for an 11 a.m. start Saturday.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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