Avonworth baseball rolls past Valley in WPIAL Class 3A quarters

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Saturday, May 22, 2021 | 10:11 PM


Second-seeded Avonworth used a five-run fourth inning to pull away for a 9-1 victory over No. 7 Valley in the WPIAL 3A baseball quarterfinals Saturday at North Allegheny.

Sean McAleer pitched four shutout innings to earn the win. The senior right-hander gave up five hits, struck out three and didn’t walk a batter.

Avonworth (14-7) will face third-seeded South Park (14-3) in the semifinals Tuesday at Plum.

A solid outing from Valley left-hander Shane Demhurter came to a halt in the fourth inning after the Vikings committed three straight errors and Avonworth runs started to snowball.

Valley largely held the Antelopes at bay until the fourth inning. The Vikings racked up five hits in the first four innings but couldn’t get the big hit. Freshman Tyler Danko and senior Javon Keys had multi-hit games.

Meanwhile, Avonworth had two hits across the first three innings until the fourth. They added two hits during the error-filled five-run inning.

“We knew that our offense was going to come alive at some point,” Avonworth coach Chris Bardakos said. “I knew we were going to get our swings. I think maybe it stayed closer than we wanted a little longer than we wanted, but I think our pitching lines up pretty good for close games.”

Mason Monroe was the only player with multiple hits for the Antelopes. Noah Osborn scored twice, and he hit an RBI in the fourth.

Valley had been a defensively sound team throughout the season.

All three Antelopes batters who reached on the errors in the fourth scored. Avonworth added one run in the fifth and two in the sixth.

“Our speed puts a lot of pressure on teams, and we use that to our advantage. I know they’ve played clean baseball this year and maybe had a few more miscues than we were used to,” Bardakos said.

Avonworth closer Jordan Kolenda recorded two strikeouts in the seventh inning. The Antelopes trio of McAleer, Ethan Tinker and Kolenda combined for eight strikeouts.

“We like him at the back end of games,” Bardakos said of Kolenda. “We’ve used him as a starter a couple times. We have enough pitching depth that I don’t have to use him more to start. If we have a lead and can go to Tinker and Kolenda at the back end, I feel pretty good.”

Avonworth and South Park split their two regular-season matchups, with each winning one-run games on their home field.

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