Quaker Valley baseball battles its way through new section
Members of Quaker Valley's baseball team knew there would be an adjustment moving up two classifications and into a new section this season.
The Quakers just didn't realize that almost every game would be as intense as a playoff game. They found out right away with a 1-3 start. Since then, the team went 5-2 to put itself in contention for one of the section's four WPIAL playoff berths.
“It's been a big jump going from Class AA to Class 4A. We've battled and we've hung tough in every defeat. There are some balls that could've bounced the other way and put us in a different situation, but we are right there in the mix, though, and we can't complain about that,” Quaker Valley coach Dave Bogats said. “Blackhawk is at the top of the section and then there are a bunch of teams all grouped together. Had we been able to score some runs early in the season, we'd be in a better spot and would have had a little separation. But we can't complain with where we are.”
While Blackhawk wrapped up the section title, New Castle, Hopewell, South Fayette, Beaver, Central Valley and Quaker Valley remained in contention for playoff spots with two section games left entering this week.
“It's a very, very demanding section. Teams play good defense and all the teams have good, strong pitching,” Bogats said. “It's the ‘black and blue' section where everybody beats each other up.”
The Quakers saw the margin between victory and defeat in their section is extremely close. An error here or a baserunning mistake there could determine the game. Three of team's section games went to extra innings, and the squad was 1-2 in those contests.
“Everything just gets magnified. Things happen a lot quicker, and they can slip away really easily. There's little room to make mistakes and be able to overcome them with such quality teams in the section,” Bogats said. “Anybody can beat anybody on any given day, so it's quite the grind and very grueling, that's for certain.”
Quaker Valley snapped a two-game skid and kept its playoff hopes alive with wins against Central Valley and Ambridge.
Jack Hendricks, who missed most of last season with an injury, earned the pitching win against CV. Joey Hess, Nick Saladino, Ethan Moore and Jake Commens have seen a majority of the mound work throughout the year, too.
“It's nice to have Jack back. He has been throwing very, very well. He throws a lot of strikes and gets ahead of the count. Joey Hess has pitched extremely well. He has thrown some great games for us. Ethan Moore threw a strong game against Beaver. When we need him to, Nick Saladino comes out of the bullpen and Jake Commens has closed out games for us,” Bogats said. “We have a good number of guys who have contributed on the mound. We've thrown pretty well all season, and they've given us opportunities to win. That's all we can ask.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.