Steel Valley baseball team posts thrilling victory
Tim Vickers surveyed the situation, and it wasn't very reassuring.
Even though Steel Valley rallied to tie Jeannette in the bottom of the 10th inning and had a runner at third base with one out, Vickers wasn't confident that his team could hold off the Jayhawks if the game went into the 11th.
Vickers knew it was the perfect opportunity for a suicide squeeze.
Problem was, he thought it was a perfect opportunity in the sixth inning as well, which turned into an inning-ending double play.
“I had no choice but to call it again,” Vickers said.
And he did, with much better results.
Sean McShane laid down a perfect suicide squeeze that scored pinch runner Justin Tester with the game-winning run, as Steel Valley (9-4, 8-2) clinched a playoff spot and remained in first place in Section 4-AA with a 4-3 victory over Jeannette (6-5, 5-4) at West Field.
“I feel if I didn't do it again, I am a complete jerk,” Vickers said. “You had a kid at the plate with a bum ankle, and I don't think he had a chance to beat something out at first; he batted in the two-hole all last year and knows how to bunt; the pitcher was throwing out of the windup … everything just played right into it.”
Brandon Donovan picked up the win in relief of Jesse Cantley, who scattered five hits and struck out six in 6 1⁄3 innings. Donovan came on in the seventh with one out and the bases loaded in a 2-2 game and struck out Zack Altieri and Jordan Edmunds. Donovan struck out six in 3 2⁄3 innings and allowed one unearned run.
Tony Mash picked up the loss after he relieved Garrett Elliott in the 10th. Elliott struck out 12 in nine innings, giving up five hits and two runs.
Jeannette coach Marcus Clarkson felt that Elliott was still throwing well, even though the senior right-hander threw 178 pitches before Clarkson was forced to take him out after nine innings because of a WPIAL rule.
“Every time he came off the mound, he said he wanted to go back out there,” Clarkson said. “We knew we needed this game, so we wanted to keep our guy out there. He proved that he is one of the better pitchers in our section. There is nobody I would rather have on the mound than Garrett.”
Elliott was often in trouble but found a way to get out of every jam.
Elliott threw nearly 40 pitches in the first inning when Steel Valley took a 2-0 lead, thanks to an RBI single by Cantley and a bases-loaded walk to Mike Hoesch.
Elliott got out of the inning allowing only two runs when he struck out Pat Jobes with the bases loaded, which would end up being a common theme. Jobes struck out with the bases loaded to end the inning in the third and fifth, as well.
Jeannette had its chances, and none better than in a 2-2 game in the seventh.
Back-to-back singles by Shawn Poth and Matt Howard, coupled with Chris Steffen getting hit by a pitch, loading the bases. But Altieri and Edmunds stuck out to end the inning.
“We have to put the ball in play, and that's what we teach them,” Clarkson said. “The kid made some good pitches on the outside half of the plate, and we didn't hit them.”
Edmunds redeemed himself with a 10th-inning double that led to the go-ahead run. After a wild pitch moved Edmunds to third, Mike Wise's roller to short gave Jeannette a 3-2 lead.
Steel Valley answered in the bottom of the inning. Hoesch singled and scored on Jobes' double to tie it at 3-3.
“The kids struggled all day, and he comes through for us in the 10th,” Vickers said. “It was probably the biggest hit of his career.”
After a wild pitch, Vickers decided to try the suicide squeeze again.
“I sure wasn't expecting it,” Clarkson said. “I wouldn't have done it, but it was a good play.”