Burrell takes advantage of Valley miscues to win renewal of baseball rivalry

Monday, March 27, 2023 | 9:46 PM

Baserunning miscues, walks galore, a period of moderate rain and perhaps, surprisingly, no errors made for a quirky but typical March baseball game in Western Pennsylvania.

In the end, visiting Burrell on Monday came away with a 7-2 victory over neighboring Valley in a renewal of their WPIAL rivalry in Class 3A section play after a two-year absence while Burrell competed in Class 4A.

“It’s always fun. These guys know each other,” Burrell coach Mark Spohn said.

Kwade Kirchartz singled twice to drive in a pair of runs, David Kleckner doubled in two more and three Burrell pitchers combined on a four-hitter as the Bucs (2-1, 1-0) opened Section 3-3A play with a victory.

But it wasn’t without a struggle.

Valley starter Tyler Danko hurled four hitless innings and struck out eight and the Vikings took a 1-0 lead into the fifth on the just one hit: freshman Nikolas Heakins’ first-inning home run over the right-center field fence.

It was the only hit against Burrell starter Isaac Lacinski and reliever Nolan Brouwer until the sixth inning, when Valley reached Brouwer for two hits and added another against him in the seventh but saw both rallies fizzle, in part, because of baserunning errors.

“We didn’t hit today,” Valley coach Jim Basilone said. “If we hit, we can play with the best of them. Today we didn’t hit, and we didn’t run the bases well. We’re young, and we made a ton of mistakes that a young team makes. Our baserunning mistakes were atrocious, just not understanding what to do in certain situations.”

After Heakins homered on Lacinski’s second pitch to give Valley a 1-0 lead, the Vikings (2-2, 0-1) unraveled in the fifth inning as Burrell scored four runs against freshman reliever Bradyn Sadecki, who struggled with his control, hitting four batters, walking three and balking in a run in two-plus innings.

Burrell added three more runs in the sixth against Sadecky, who gave up seven hits and seven earned runs.

“He pitched five innings and was lights-out against Jeannette,” Basilone said, referring to Sadecky’s mound presence in Valley’s 7-6 victory over the Jayhawks on March 21. “He didn’t have it today, but that’s how it goes a lot of times with young players.

“Overall, we came out today, and I just don’t think the kids had the mental part of the game in mind. It just wasn’t there. That’s a Burrell-Valley rivalry, and the kids can get into each others’ heads. We weren’t on the same page we needed to be to win the game.”

The teams are scheduled to play again Tuesday at Burrell.

While Danko maneuvered through four scoreless but adventurous innings — he walked seven and threw 97 pitches with just 47 strikes — he had little support at the plate.

“His pitch count got way up,” Spohn said. “We did a pretty good job of working him, but he did what he had to do.”

Spohn has been through the early struggles of a season more times than he says he can remember. He’s in his 26th season as Burrell’s coach.

“Every year, you start out with expectations, but you don’t really know where you’re at,” Spohn said. “You play these games when it’s so cold, so wet, and you still kind of really don’t know what you have for a couple more weeks until the weather gets nicer and you actually start playing three or four games a week. Then, you start to really see what your team is going to be.

“The key is to get better. Where you start isn’t where you’re hoping you’re going to end up. Both of these teams will get better.”

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