By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
SLIPPERY ROCK — Sharpsville High’s baseball team did not bring its best to Monday’s PIAA Class AA opening-round meeting with Steel Valley. However the Blue Devils’ best on this given day was good enough.
The Blue Devils’ duo of right-handers Jarryd Summers and Josh Fyffe collaborated on a 1-hitter, and coupled with Sharpsville’s small-ball offense, the combination secured Sharpsville a 2-1 win.
By virtue of the victory at Slippery Rock University’s Jack Critchfield Park, Sharpsville (16-5) will meet the winner of today’s Greensburg Central Catholic/Philipsburg-Osceola tilt Thursday at a site and time to be announced.
“I’ll take a win but that was a flat win, that’s what I just told the boys,” said 17th-season Sharpsville skipper Kirk Scurpa. “We’ve got to come out and play better. (The competition’s) just going to keep getting better and better.”
Summers stymied Steel Valley, yielding just a hit and unearned run in 5 frames. However after a stellar 10-pitch first frame — 9 of which were strikes — Summers struggled somewhat after tweaking a muscle while base running, Scurpa said. The slender Summers struck out 7, walked 3 and threw 81 pitches (53 strikes) to gain credit for the win. Fyffe fired 2 scoreless innings of relief, retiring 6 of the 7 batters he faced, the last pair on strikes to secure the save.
“They did a nice job,” Scurpa said of his hurlers. “I’ve learned from years past that I’ve stuck with my ‘horse before.’ (Summers) had a 1-hitter and I pulled him in the sixth, which is kind of odd. But I’ve been down that road before and we’ve been hit late in the game, so ... We have two quality pitchers, and I thought we’d have both eligible for the next time, plus we were going to bring in a stronger arm at that time.
“We just kept (the Ironmen) a little off-balance with our pitching (Mon)day, so we’re going to have to do a little bit better job at the plate,” Scurpa assessed.
Sharpsville scratched out singletons in the 1st and 3rd innings, and it stood up.
Summers scorched a 2-out line-drive double to straightaway center field over Brian Grise’s head, then moved up a base on Ryan Morris’ infield single. WIth Brian Ellison batting, Scurpa set up a delayed double-steal. With Steel Valley righty Darren Smith set at the belt from the stretch, Morris broke for second base and drew himself into a rundown. When first baseman Kyle Thomas’ throw short-hopped shortstop Matt Suhajda, Summers scored and Morris ultimately slid safe into second.
In the 3rd Kyle Rupp drew a leadoff walk, advanced to third on Fyffe’s hit-and-run line drive single to center, then scored on another throwing error when Fyffe overzealously rounded first base and also encountered a rundown.
Steel Valley (13-8) staged its lone threat in the 5th frame. Garett Gori’s fielder’s choice grounder forced out Mark Zelena, who had drawn a leadoff walk. DH Tom Perlaky drew a 2-out walk, then Suhajda’s slow roller was surrounded by second-sacker Rupp, whose throw went awry, scoring Gori. But Summers enticed Mike Gallagher into an inning-ending fly out to center field Ian Brown.
“Jarryd wasn’t himself today. I never had the utmost confidence that he was going to go 7 innings, the whole way through,” Scurpa assessed. “He came out in the first inning and was throwing BB’s, but he did that little slide back in the third and I think he might’ve gotten a little agitated, sliding back into third. I know his left arm was scraped up, but he was moving around a lot out there on the mound, so I didn’t think he was quite right.”
Insurance for Sharpsville in the 6th stanza ended in a 2-on, 2-out scenario when pinch-hitter Joe Siguenza struck out after drilling the previous pitch foul down the left-field line.
Steel Valley was making its first PIAA playoff appearance, according to head coach and alum Ryan Ellis, but the first-year Ironmen taskmaster was not around very long to enjoy it. After disputing a 3rd-inning call at 1st base — which potentially could have put Steel Valley in a 1-out first-and-third situation — Ellis was ejected after Suhajda was called out at first on a bang-bang play. Instead it was the inning’s 2nd out, and Summers subsequently struck out Gallagher to throttle the threat.
“I just went out to get my point across, and unfortunately I stayed out there a little too long and that’s just the way things go. I’ve been around the game long enough to know what’s what, and unfortunately I wasn’t around from the third inning on,” Ellis assessed. “I thought (Suhajda) had the play beat by about half-a-step, that was my point, and I got my point across.”
WPIAL third-place finisher Steel Valley threatened only once more, as Zack Campbell drew a 1-out 7th-inning walk, but he was stranded by the fireballing Fyffe.
“It’s kind of hard to win whenever you have only one hit, but it’s just something we haven’t done all year, to not hit the ball. But unfortunately it came back to bite us in the butt (Mon)day,” Ellis assessed.
Smith shut down Sharpsville — “a fastball-hitting team, normally,” according to Scurpa — on 4 hits, including Fyffe’s pair. He struck out 3, walked 4 and hit a hitter on 91 pitches spanning 6 stanzas.
“(Smith’s) ball must’ve been ‘cutting’ quite a bit. He’s got to be a good pitcher. He kept Riverside to 3 runs and I told our boys, ‘They’re a good team; they got beat only 3-1 by Riverside, so we can’t come in here flat.’ But we did, and we got away with it,” Scurpa admitted.
Notes: The GCC-vs.-Philipsburg-Osceola game is 3 p.m. at White Park, Indiana, according to The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. ... Scurpa declined to name a starting pitcher for Thursday. ... Thomas’ second-inning single to right center was Steel Valley’s sole safety.
By Corey J. Corbin
Allied News Sports Editor
SLIPPERY ROCK — The 2006 season for Grove City ended in much the same way as the 2005 slate did — with a loss in the interdistrict tournament to the WPIAL third seed.
Moon (13-11) plated 3 runs in the top of the 7th inning to overcome a 6-4 deficit to down Region 5-AAA and District 10 champion Grove City (15-5) in the first round of the PIAA interdistrict playoffs Monday afternoon at Slippery Rock University’s Jack Critchfield Park.
“I’m sure the kids will be disappointed,” Grove City coach Pat Forese said. “(Moon is) a good team. The top of their order was tough. You have to give them credit. They capitalized every time we made a mistake.”
The loss marked the end of the careers of five Grove City players — Jesse Alfreno, Beau Fisher, Andy Geibel, Brandon Jones and Dan Sonntag.
“They’ve been parts of last year’s district champions and this one,” Forese said. “Jesse played on the one four years ago. The other seniors dressed for that one, so they’ve been a part of several championships and a lot wins. They have nothing to hang their heads about.
“They should be successful. They’ve all contributed over their career. I’m proud of our seniors.”
In the ill-fated top of the seventh inning, GC starter Bob Revesz hit David Compo to open the inning and a throwing error sent him to second. Dan Walsh legged out an infield single and Bryce Goldbach doubled in the tying runs to chase Revesz. Tom DeAngelis singled home Goldbach’s courtesy runner for the game-winner.
“(Revesz) made one real mistake in the game,” Forese said. “That was the No. 8 hitter. He hit him and gave them a little bit of life. If he doesn’t hit him or goes after him, who knows? It might have been a whole different game.”
The game couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for Grove City.
With one on and two away, Casey Williams, Brian Walsh and Corey Gracey ripped consecutive doubles to the gaps as Moon collected an early 3-0 edge.
Four of Moon’s first five hits were doubles.
“That’s part of baseball,” Forese said. “Sometimes, you hit them right at people. Sometimes, they hit them in the gap. That first double they hit, Bobby threw a great pitch out off the plate and the kid went out to get it. There wasn’t much we could. They hit them where we weren’t.”
After being held hitless by Goldbach, the Eagles erupted for 7 hits and five runs in the third inning.
Craig Boliver opened the stanza with a double to left-center and was followed by 4 straight singles from Sonntag, Fisher, Alfreno and Dan Keil for a 4-3 advantage. After a double play, Garrett Molloy doubled and scored on Ryan Devine’s single.
Alfreno, Boliver and Sonntag each went 2-for-3. Sonntag scored twice, while Alfreno tripled, scored and drove in 2.
“We were a little more patient,” Forese said. “We got better pitches to hit. (Goldbach was) only the second or third lefty we had seen all year.”
Grove City plated another run in the fourth. Sonntag beat out an infield single with one out and Alfreno drilled a two-out triple down the right fieldline to score Sonntag.
Revesz pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing all 7 runs on 8 hits and a walk, while striking out 10. Alfreno tossed the 2/3 inning, permitting a single and intentionally walking a runner.
“Hopefully this will be a learning experience for us,” Forese said. “We have three seniors that started today and the rest were all young kids. You can’t win them all.”
Notes: Moon will play Hampton, a 6-1 winner over Punxsutawney, at a site and time to be determined Thursday. ... Goldbach led Moon by going 3-for-4 and also worked 5 2/3 on the mound. He surrendered all 6 runs on 10 hits and struck out 5. ... DeAngelis went 2-for-4.