Burrell baseball program savored long run
TribLIVE Sports Videos
In 1374, English poet Geoffey Chaucer was credited with creating the saying “all good things must come to an end.”
In 2014, Burrell's baseball program experienced Chaucer's phrase from the Middle Ages.
Burrell's 16-year WPIAL baseball playoff run ended earlier this week with losses to Apollo-Ridge and Freeport in Section 3-AA.
While 16 years is impressive, if the WPIAL in the 1990s had taken the top three section finishers to the playoffs like it does now, Burrell would have made the playoffs 22 years in a row.
The Bucs made the playoffs from 1994-96, but the Bucs were eliminated on the final day of the regular season in 1992, '93 and '97.
That meant Thursday's game at Ford City was the first time Burrell played a game without section implications or playoff seeding since May 12, 1991, when the Bucs were one-hit by Springdale.
The 16-year surge included berths in the WPIAL finals in 2010 against Beaver Falls and the PIAA 2001 finals against Phoenixville at Williamsport's Bowman Field and 2008 against Loyalsock at Altoona's Blair County Ballpark.
Enjoying the ride was Mark Spohn, coach for all 16 seasons.
“I've got to give credit to everybody, my assistant coaches and my players,” Spohn said. “You can't do something like this alone.”
Burrell didn't go meekly into the sunset, to be sure.
In Monday's game against Apollo-Ridge, the Bucs trailed 9-2 going into the seventh inning and scored six runs, coming up short in a 9-8 decision.
Tuesday versus Freeport, Burrell was behind 6-2 but scored two runs in the seventh and had the bases loaded before a flyout to center ended the run.
“We had some bad breaks this year, things didn't go our way,” Spohn said. “We'd get hot, then with the weather, we'd have to sit a few days and couldn't practice. But everybody was in that same boat.”
Senior Cody Wolfe was on board for the final two seasons of the streak.
“We thought about the streak, and we're upset that it's over,” said Wolfe, who hit nearly .400. “The chips didn't fall our way, and we lost a lot of close games.”
Spohn didn't have a magic formula for all those successful seasons.
“Every team's a little different,” he said. “Some teams had better pitching, some better hitting, some just had better attitudes.”
Even rival coaches have been impressed.
“It's pretty incredible, the consistency they've had over there for so many years,” Deer Lakes coach Jon Pedrosky said. “You need a good youth program, preparation and you have to avoid a huge graduation class.”
Here is Burrell's playoff run in perspective:
• The Bucs won 234 games in those 16 seasons.
• When the surge started in 1998, the WPIAL had only two baseball classifications. Now there are four.
• The seniors on the 1998 team are approaching age 34.
• The WPIAL record for consecutive baseball playoff appearances is 28 by North Allegheny.
Burrell has been a target for a long time.
“When I first came to Deer Lakes five years ago, our biggest goal was to be where Burrell was,” Pedrosky said.
George Guido 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.
- Pirates notebook: Tabata rediscovering his power
- Pirates sickened by pic of ‘Jihadi John’ wearing Bucs ball cap
- AG Kane’s spokesman leaving after 2 months on the job
- At Pitt, a chance to make early impression under Narduzzi
- Two charged with selling heroin that killed Lower Burrell woman
- Highmark lays off nearly 100 workers, mostly in IT, as membership declines
- Undercover officers seize more than 2 dozen guns from Oakdale man
- Uniontown podiatrist, 6 others charged in prescription painkiller scheme
- Seton-La Salle girls defeat rival Bishop Canevin to capture 7th WPIAL title
- Why would GOP candidate for Missouri governor Schweich kill himself?
- Trade for Winnik gives Penguins competition among bottom six