Quaker Valley baseball finishes season strong

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Sunday, May 30, 2021 | 11:01 AM


When baseball season started in late March, Quaker Valley got off on the wrong foot, losing back-to-back games against eventual Section 2 champion Montour by a combined 10 runs.

That rough start continued, but the Quakers turned their season around in late April, made a playoff push through the beginning of May, and showed just how far they had come when they pushed Montour to the edge in their WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinal matchup May 24, at Fox Chapel.

“We got off to a slow start and it’s tough to open up our season against Montour,” Quaker Valley coach Dean Owrey said. “That’s a tall order. But I knew that we could regain our footing, and I thought our second half would be better than our first and it was.”

The Quakers jumped out to a 2-0 lead May 24 in the first inning and after Montour scored three runs in the bottom of the third to retake the lead, the Quakers responded in the top of the fifth with two more runs.

Junior Adam Tanabe and sophomore Jackson Bould split the pitching duties and held the Spartans at bay for most of the evening, but they scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth and never looked back.

“I don’t think anybody gave us much hope to be competitive, and we were,” Owrey said. “We gave them a dog fight, and we gave them a run for their money.”

The Quakers were close, too. During their two-run rally in the fifth, they had the bases loaded with one out and a 4-3 lead. They were on the brink of breaking the game open and possibly upsetting the No. 1 seed.

A comebacker to Montour’s Mason Sike started a pitcher to catcher to first base double play that suddenly ended the inning and allowed the Spartans to limit the damage to just two runs.

“My guy hit a hard ground ball right up the middle. It just happened to go right back to the pitcher,” Owrey said. “A foot either way, especially on a turf infield with the infield up, that’s probably going to get through and we’re going to score two runs. Baseball is a game of inches. These guys just really demonstrated a lot of resolve towards the end of the season.”

The Quakers scored another run in the top of the seventh but ultimately couldn’t push the tying run across.

Quaker Valley gained a lot from its run in the playoffs. Since taking over the program, Owrey has been building, and although the record might not show it, the 2021 season might have been his best yet.

Not one senior played against Montour on May 24. A junior and a sophomore took on the top-seeded Spartans, and three juniors combined to drive in four runs. Not only was the matchup a key moment for their confidence, but it also allowed the Quakers to gain that big game atmosphere experience.

“I only had one player on the field, junior Zeke Hendricks, who was a starter as a freshman. He was the only one on our side that had playoff game experience,” Owrey said. “So for these guys to win one (playoff game) and almost win two, coming in as a No. 9 seed, it was pretty good. There’s no question in my mind that it had to benefit them and they know what it takes now. They know the margin of error. They know the level of preparation and mental focus it takes to pull it off when you get down to the final eight or the final four.”

Despite such a young lineup, the Quakers finished with four hitters over .300, four with double-digit RBIs and tallied 39 extra-base hits as a team. The Quakers also built up their experience on the mound and had three pitchers throw 20-plus innings, including junior Andrew Glas, who threw 4423 innings and had a 2.66 ERA.

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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