Bisons pounce on Steel Valley
PITTSBURGH – Bedford didn’t let a Matt Hoesch leadoff home run or the fact Steel Valley starting pitcher Derek Morrison cruised through the first two innings get to it during Monday’s PIAA Class AA first round high school baseball playoff game.
After all, it took awhile for the Bisons to get things rolling in the regular season, too.
“We had a shaky start, and the weather bothered us early this season,” Bedford coach Scott Waugerman said. “We told the kids at the beginning not to panic and that the end of the year is when we wanted to peak. We took our lumps early, but we’ve gotten on a roll lately when it matters.”
Just when it seemed Bedford was outclassed by WPIAL champion Steel Valley, which came into Monday’s game 18-2, the Bisons turned the tables with seven runs over a three-inning span and never looked back in a 10-4 triumph at Fox Chapel High School.
Bedford (12-6) will play District 10 runner-up Northwestern, a 7-6 winner over Karns City Monday, in the quarterfinals on Thursday at a site and time to be determined.
“It was just like every game,” Bedford’s Austin Montgomery said. “We started slow, but Dylan Daniel got that first hit, and then everyone hits. When we’re playing well, it’s always like that.”
That turned out to be the case against Steel Valley as four different players – Daniel, Montgomery, Travis Hickey and starting pitcher Andrew Smith drove in two runs – while the Bisons pounded out 12 hits.
Smith allowed Hoesch’s leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning before giving up a single and an RBI double to Brandon Donovan. A fly out moved Donovan to third, but a botched suicide squeeze attempt put a quick end to what might have been an even bigger inning.
“I look back on the squeeze that they did a great job on,” Steel Valley coach Tim Vickers said. “Yeah. That could have changed some things.”
The Ironmen held their 2-0 lead until Daniel’s RBI double in the bottom of the third inning. Daniel went to third on the throw home and came home a pitch later after Morrison was called for a balk.
Hickey scored after leading off the fourth inning with a walk when Dylan Downs beat out an infield single and the ball got away from Steel Valley first baseman Michael Hoesch. Downs came in to score a couple batters later when Daniel hit a sacrifice fly.
Smith produced a shutdown inning in the bottom of the frame despite allowing the first two runners to reach by striking out a pair and getting Andrew Chuba on a groundout.
In the top of the fifth, Bedford’s bats went right back to work. Isaac Kline reached on an error before Kody Blevins’ double forced Morrison out of the game. Donovan came on in relief and was immediately greeted by a Montgomery single over the drawn-in infield that plated two. Montgomery came home two batters later to make it 7-2 when Smith hit one of Bedford’s five doubles in the game.
“I don’t know what happened,” Vickers said. “They squared some balls up and had some seeing-eye singles and the next thing you know we’re down 7-2. It snowballed real fast on us.”
Waugerman removed Smith after five innings and brought in Montgomery, but he immediately got into trouble by walking Michael Hoesch to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Sean McShane reached on catcher’s interference for the second time in the game to put two on with no outs, and an error and a Donovan groundout scored both runners.
Suddenly, the Bisons lead was just 7-4.
As Bedford came off the field, Waugerman encouraged his squad not to settle for a three-run lead but to extend it by matching Steel Valley’s two runs in the previous inning.
The Bisons did him one better by scoring three times.
Blevins, who finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored, a double and a triple, reached on an error to begin the inning, and Montgomery drew a walk. Hickey doubled in a pair, and Smith lined his second consecutive double to make it 10-4.
“It was very big [to add on],” Waugerman said. “We know that they are a good hitting team and for them to put three or four on the board in an inning is not out of the question at all.”
Steel Valley got two base runners in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Bedford turned a double play before Montgomery struck out Michael Hoesch to end the game.
“We talked all week about not having the often-said WPIAL hangover,” Vickers said. “We came out looking like it wasn’t existent, but maybe it was. I will say the process of the WPIAL tournament is an extremely mental, physical and emotionally draining process.”
While Steel Valley may have still been celebrating its district title, Bedford certainly had its eyes on the first round of the PIAA playoffs after losing to Mount Union a year ago.
“We were disappointed last year,” Waugerman said. “Fortunately we have a lot of guys back from that team, and I think that served as a little extra motivation for today, because they still had that bitter taste in their mouth.”
BEDFORD (10): Shaffer ss 400, Kline 2b 411, Blevins cf 423, Montgomery 1b-p 311, Waugerman cr 010, Hickey rf 321, Smith p-1b 302, Downs lf 411, Miller c 301, Zembower cr 010, Daniel 3b 212. Totals: 30-10-12
STEEL VALLEY (4): Ma. Hoesch 3b 311, Chuba cf 411, Donovan rf-p 401, Morrison p-rf 402, Lyons cr 000, Ligeros lf 300, Brooks pr 000, Varhola 2b 300, Eged c 000, Cantley dh 302, Tester pr 000, Mi. Hoesch 1b 311, McShane ss 110. Totals: 28-4-8
SCORE BY INNING
Bedford002 230 3 – 10 12 4
Steel Valley200 002 0 – 4 8 3
E-Miller 2, Kline, Montgomery, Ma. Hoesch 2, Donovan. 2B-Daniel, Blevins, Smith 2, Hickey, Morrison, Donovan. 3B-Blevins. HR-Ma. Hoesch. RBI-Montgomery 2, Hickey 2, Smith 2, Daniel 2, Donovan 2, Ma. Hoesch.
Smith (W) 5IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 6K, 3BB
Montgomery 2IP, 1H, 2R, 0ER, 2K, 2BB
Morrison (L) 4IP, 7H, 6R, 5ER, 3K, 2BB
Donovan 2IP, 5H, 4R, 3ER, 3K, 1BB
Records: Steel Valley (18-3); Bedford (12-6).