by Jonathan Weaver
Just a few hours before the volleyball loss, the West Shamokin varsity boys’ baseball team also suffered a tough loss in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.
Head Coach Dave Powers said his team lost 9-5 to the Steel Valley Ironmen at Fox Chapel’s neutral field.
“We didn’t know a lot about them. Our records were similar (but) it was a game – (scoring) went back and forth for a while, but they ended up on top in the end,” Coach Powers said.
Coach Powers said the fourth inning was the turning point of the game, when the Ironmen scored twice and took a 6-2 lead.
Junior Ben Vicini (who also came out in the fourth inning) started the game and pitched four innings for the Wolves, giving up six of the nine Ironmen runs.
Vicini has pitched the past three years, using his fastball a majority of the time.
“After the second inning once we gave up a couple of errors, we fell down a little bit and lost our momentum,” Vicini said. “Lost a little bit of confidence when we let in some really-bad runs that never should have happened.”
The Wolves also made three errors during the fourth inning that hurt the team.
Of the Wolves’ six hits, Junior Devin Fairman went 2-4 and Senior Eli Frailey went 1-for-3 with three RBI’s.
“They worked well as a group this year and supported each other through the wins and the losses. The kids played hard, and unfortunately we didn’t come out on top,” Coach Powers said.
Vicini, who won five of West Shamokin’s games during the regular season while paired with Fairman, also noted West Shamokin’s drive to come back before he left the game.
West Shamokin finishes the season tied for second place in Section 3 with a 10-8 record – a school record for wins. Coach Powers has coached since the team since the school opened.
It was West Shamokin’s first time in the playoffs since 2004.
Between West Shamokin and the former-Shannock Valley High, it was Powers’ 30th year of coaching baseball.
Powers also played four years of baseball for the Shannock Valley Spartans, and said the team’s approach will not change as West Shamokin heads to the Heritage Conference next school year.
“We’re going to continue doing things the way we have in the past. We have a nice group of players coming back next year and hopefully we can have some success,” Coach Powers said.
The team will lose four seniors due to graduation – second baseman Frailey, first baseman Evan Nosal, rightfielder Logan Gress and backup second baseman Damian Clark.
Steel Valley plays the winner of the Riverside-New Brighton matchup that was played at Chippewa Park in Beaver Falls.