McKEES ROCKS – A layoff of nearly two weeks, a slew of mental and physical miscues and a hard-hitting opponent put an end to the Washington High School baseball season.
What head coach Rocky Plassio will rue is that the 8-4 defeat to Beaver Friday in a WPIAL Class AA first-round game at the Burkett Complex could’ve easily been reversed had it not been for a little more heads-up baserunning and a little bit more control from his pitching staff.
“The baserunning was real uncharacteristic of us, and that’s unfortunate,” said Plassio. “We really missed some opportunities. Maybe they placed too much pressure on themselves. Sometimes today you saw kids do some things they normally don’t do.”
Washington (14-5) had five runners retired on the bases through the first four innings but also had several other lapses that, while they didn’t cost the Prexies any outs, did take away several scoring chances.
One of those came in the bottom of the fourth inning with Beaver (11-5) leading, 3-2. The Prexies had runners on first and second when Lincoln Key drilled a ball off the base of the left-center field wall.
However, lead runner Jesse Spara, thinking the ball might be caught and he would tag to go to third, retreated to second base and was nearly passed by Connor Bedillion. Spara only made it as far as third base, turning what looked like a sure RBI-double into bases loaded with nobody out.
Spara eventually scored on a wild pitch, but, after a walk reloaded the bases, the Prexies hit into a forceout at home on a slow ground ball to shortstop Alex Rowse, and then Jordan Yates got two strikeouts to limit the damage to one run.
“Even though we got that run to eventually score,” said Plassio, “we still needed a lot more. I would’ve felt a lot better going into the next inning up 5-3.”
Despite the lapses, what kept the Prexies in the game was the Bobcats had nearly as long a layoff and were making mistakes of their own, including having a runner doubled off second base on a foulout.
“It was ugly, both sides,” said Beaver coach Bruce Herstine. “We are lucky to come out of here with a win. There’s a lot of things that could’ve turned this game. It could’ve went either way.”
The teams traded runs in the fifth inning, and then the Bobcats, who had been knocking on the door of a big inning all game – Beaver had multiple base runners in each inning until the seventh – finally got the breakthrough.
Two walks and a single opened the door for an RBI groundout by Zach Logan and sacrifice fly from Rowse, then Lucas Scheidemantel, who had already hit two doubles, smashed the door down with a two-run homer for an 8-4 Beaver lead. Scheidemantel was 3-for-3 with a walk and two runs in addition to the two RBI.
“He had a game,” Herstine said. “He’s hit for us all year, and that’s about as good as you can get.”
Yates, who earlier crushed a two-run homer almost out of Robinson Township, pitched four innings of relief for Beaver to get the win, striking out five.
Washington threatened one last time in the bottom of the seventh, putting two runners on, but a pair of groundouts ended the game and the Prexies’ season, which included the Section 2-AA title.
“You try to enjoy things like that,” said Plassio, “but it’s tough when you lose the last game of the season. You’re never satisfied.”
There were only two 1-2-3 innings in the game: Washington’s sixth and Beaver’s seventh. …Washington’s Jonathan Spina reached base four times. He had a single, two walks and was hit by a pitch. ...Beaver won its 10th straight game. ...Washington had a six-game winning streak snapped.