Beaver advances to PIAA title game after topping Quaker Valley
Beaver senior Matt Rose was on third base Monday with his team well on its way to a PIAA Class AA semifinal victory.
But Rose wanted to make sure.
He stole home as part of a five-run sixth inning as the Bobcats rolled past Quaker Valley, 7-0, at Butler's Pullman Park.
Rose singled twice, walked and drove in two runs while senior right-hander Austin Logan limited the Quakers to two hits and went the distance.
Beaver (20-3) moves on to the state championship game at Penn State's Medlar Field at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The Bobcats will play the winner of Tuesday's semifinal game between Loyalsock and Salisbury.
That semifinal was rained out Monday and will be played at 1 p.m. at Bloomsburg University.
Quaker Valley, ranked No. 1 by the Tribune-Review for much of the season, concluded a successful campaign at 23-2. The only other loss came to Beaver in the WPIAL title game.
After Quakers starter Tyler Garbee walked the bases loaded with none out in the second inning, Rose knocked in the first two Bobcats runs with a single.
Beaver scored twice more in the sixth with Rose on at third and one out.
“In 2008, when we were in the WPIAL playoffs, I said let's start getting aggressive,” Bobcats coach Bruce Herstine said. “I caught the pitcher not checking over at third at all. Matt fears nothing. He wasn't afraid to slide into home. We took a shot.”
The pitch by reliever Jake Pilewicz was bobbled by the catcher, and Rose scored.
“I did it a couple of times when I was younger but nothing like a state semifinal game,” Rose said. “My coach trusted me, and I had to get it done.”
Herstine gave credit to his pitchers, Logan and Austin Ross, who have yet to yield a run in three PIAA games.
“Our pitching is at its best right now,” Herstine said. “To win a WPIAL and a state title, you've got to be good and lucky, and we've got both right now.”
Herstine already has named Ross as his starter Friday, though Logan would be eligible to pitch with three days' rest.
“That's his game,” Logan said, gesturing toward Ross. “It's better for him that he knows he's going, and he'll be rested and focused.”
Quaker Valley's first hit didn't come until the fifth inning when Matt Delie doubled.
Nelson Westwood opened the seventh with a triple but was retired at the plate on a fielder's choice.First-year Quakers coach Todd Goble was happy with his team's performance from the start of the season.
“I've had an extraordinary year with this group, and I could not be more happy with the season and what they've done,” Goble said. “When I first went to the gym the first day of the season, I saw these young men and I said this could be something special because they are special young men.”
Beaver will be playing in its second PIAA title game. The 1983 Bobcats, who lost to Reading, featured two future major league pitchers: John Burkett and Doug Piatt.
George Guido is a freelance writer.