Quinn Construction sweeps its way to DNL championship
Moments before Monday's Game 3 of the McKeesport Daily News League championship series, Quinn Construction coach Tom Simcho still had not decided who would pitch against South Park.
Would it be 17-year-old Brandon Donovan, who led Steel Valley to a WPIAL championship in May? Or would it be Dan Laird, a seven-year veteran of the Daily News League?
Simcho leaning toward veteran experience proved to be the right move, as Laird helped Quinn Construction shut out South Park, 1-0, and complete a three-game sweep for back-to-back league titles.
“(Laird) stepped up like a veteran today,” said Simcho, who has won DNL titles as a player and coach. “I can't say enough good things about the way he played.”
Laird tossed a complete game in which he struck out four and scattered five hits. He also induced 12 ground-ball outs while using a minimal amount of pitches.
“My two-seam (fastball) was working really well, my changeup was working,” said Laird, who won Game 2 of last year's championship series. “I probably only threw three curveballs today.”
Laird dedicated the victory to his father's memory.
“My dad, he passed away last year and he was my No. 1 motivator,” Laird said. “He's always in the back of my head.”
South Park, which had six players batting .400 or better, lost as much in two days than it had in three months of the regular season.
At 19-2 entering the playoffs, South Park, which beat Quinn twice during the regular season, was the consensus team to beat.
Quinn swept a doubleheader Sunday, and finished the series Monday night at Beedle Park.
“I knew it was going to be a battle, to say the least,” South Park manager Mike Monaco said. “A sweep never really entered my mind.”
Quinn's Adam Becker singled in Jake Liposky for the game's only run.
In the top of the fifth, South Park's Adam Dodson singled to right and a double by Ben Nolan put runners at second and third. But Laird got Brady Benedetti to ground out to end South Park's best shot at tying the game.
South Park right fielder Ryan Dodson, who batted .537 to lead the league during the regular season, injured his left hamstring while attempting a sliding catch in the third inning and did not return.
Logan Corrigan took the loss. He went six innings and struck out two.
The former Hot Shots Saloon, South Park completed its second season in the DNL and expects to bring back most of its players next year.
“To do what we did in our second year of existence, I'm extremely proud of these guys,” Monaco said. “Hopefully, we'll contend again next year.”
Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.