A-K Valley baseball notebook: Burrell heats up with sweep of Freeport

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Thursday, April 29, 2021 | 8:00 PM


Sometimes, all it takes is one or two wins to boost a team’s confidence, and the Burrell Bucs have experienced that over the past two weeks.

They’ve built a four-game winning streak with wins over Highlands, Kiski Area and a two-game sweep of Freeport.

After winning their first game of the season against Brashear, 8-0, March 29, the Bucs lost seven straight games, including their first five Section 1-4A contests. But April 20, the Bucs rebounded and earned a big section win over Highlands, 5-2, after losing to them by a run the day before.

Then, two days later, they earned a come-from-behind victory over the Cavaliers in a 7-6 contest, and it showed them what they are truly capable of.

“They were huge, and they boosted our confidence to a whole new level,” Burrell’s Phil Walsh said. “It made us feel like we could compete with teams. Before we were down and now, we feel like we can deal with anyone.”

The Bucs followed up their two wins last week with convincing victories over the Yellowjackets this week. Joey Druga delivered a big outing Monday in a 7-5 win before Walsh threw another complete game Tuesday in a 7-1 win. He allowed four hits and struck out four.

“Throughout the year, they’ve just been starting to improve,” Burrell coach Mark Spohn said. “We’re slowly getting better. This is a very young team, and they just needed to learn a lot. They are still learning too.”

The Bucs will look to keep it going Monday with a road game against Indiana.

Can’t hit this

Over the past week, Fox Chapel senior right-hander Dante DiMatteo has been unhittable. In two starts, DiMatteo has thrown two no-hitters and has struck out 24 batters in the process.

Last Friday, DiMatteo threw a five-inning no-hitter against Woodland Hills as the Foxes demolished the Wolverines, 12-0. The senior ace struck out 11 and walked five.

On Wednesday, DiMatteo combined with Luke Hudic to throw a no-hitter as the Foxes beat Shady Side Academy, 8-1. The senior had his strikeout pitch working once again as he fanned 13 batters and walked three.

He has 58 strikeouts and a 1.45 ERA over 29 innings of work.

Catch me if you can

Riverview was determined to earn a victory Tuesday. After dropping a close contest to Sewickley Academy on Monday, the Raiders needed a win on the back end of their Section 3-A matchup, and they got it in a big way.

They scored 12 runs in the third inning en route to a 16-1 victory over the Panthers. The Raiders also ran all over their competition. They utilized delayed steals and straight-up steals and advanced on passed balls. They also tested the arm strength of Sewickley Academy’s outfielders.

On almost every occasion, the Raiders came away safe. They ended up stealing 13 bases to improve their standing in section play.

Sit ‘em down

Even after a week-long layoff, John Luke Bailey is continuing his winning ways for Valley. He threw 6⅓ innings of six-hit ball against Ligonier Valley on Tuesday while striking out six and allowing one run.

Throughout this season, Bailey has been the guy the Vikings have relied on, and he’s delivered almost every time he’s stepped onto the mound. He’s thrown three complete games while allowing five hits or less, and he has two outings with 10-plus strikeouts.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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