MCKEES ROCKS – Trinity got a look at playoff baseball this spring after not reaching the postseason each of the past two seasons.
Perhaps, as senior Don McWreath can attest, maybe too good of a look.
The 14th-seeded Hillers struck out 10 times during a 4-2 loss to No. 6 West Allegheny Wednesday at Burkett Athletic Complex in the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals, five of them on called third strikes.
Trinity also had two runners on base in the first, sixth and seventh innings, situations that netted a total of one run.
“We have to get the bats off our shoulders,” McWreath said. “We have to swing the bat a little more. Even myself, I can’t say I didn’t do it.”
West Allegheny starter Colin Claus went all seven innings – his longest outing of the season – while walking only one. He threw 96 pitches, 68 for strikes and fired first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 28 batters he faced.
Claus’ fastball, whipped out of a three-quarters arm slot, darted in and out, and his breaking ball froze Trinity’s best bats.
“His ball tails because of his arm slot,” West Allegheny coach Bryan Cornell said. “It’s one of those things where it doesn’t look like it’s in the (strike) zone, then it comes in on them, especially with lefties. When he throws hard like that, it’s tough; you can keep them off-balance.”
Cory Humphreys started for Trinity but was removed after giving up three runs on four hits in the first inning.
McWreath relieved him and went the rest of the way, allowing an unearned run on four hits and a walk.
McWreath threw well enough to win, but Trinity (10-9), which upset third-seeded Hampton in the first round, didn’t swing often enough to put up runs.
Or to challenge West Allegheny (17-5), the second-place team out of Section 1-AAA and an 8-5 winner over South Fayette in Monday’s first round.
“It’s very costly because if you can’t put a ball in play, they can’t make a play on it, and they can’t make an error on it,” Trinity senior Nick Riotto said. “It’s no good to look at a ball and strike out on it. I did it myself, but we had to put the ball in play. We didn’t do it enough.”
Humphreys, who along with left fielder Ryan Moon led Trinity with two hits apiece, walked and designated hitter Connor Fritz singled in the first. But Fritz was thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning.
Humphreys drove in Moon with a first-pitch single to center in the third inning for Trinity’s first run of the game.
Riotto and Humphreys gave Trinity hope with back-to-back singles in the fifth, though Riotto was thrown out at third after getting a late break on a wild pitch. Two strikeouts ended the inning.
“The sixth inning hurt us, when we got the first two on, and instead of second and third nobody out we have a guy on second and two outs,” Trinity coach Scott Henson said.
In the seventh, right fielder Zach Kenny and catcher Dustin Galentine singled. McWreath’s double-play ball left only Kenny at third.
Left fielder Ryan Moon drove him in before second baseman Zach Cain grounded out to end it.
West Allegheny scored on two sacrifice flies and a Josh Bahr double to left with two outs. The Indians tacked on one more in the fourth when Galentine’s throw to third sailed into the outfield.
Trinity challenged Claus more in the late innings, racking five of its eight hits, but it turned out to be too little too late.
“We had some unfortunate breaks and a few things not go our way,” Riotto said. “I thought we were there, but we just couldn’t come through in the clutch. You can’t wait until the last inning most games. Time just ran out on us.”
West Allegheny will play the winner of Hopewell-Blackhawk in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals. … Claus struck out the side in the fifth inning, all looking. … McWreath threw 60 pitches, 40 strikes and first-pitch strikes to 14 of 19 hitters.