Quaker Valley baseball gains momentum after defeating Blackhawk

Sunday, May 2, 2021 | 11:01 AM

This season has been filled with ups and downs for the Quaker Valley baseball team.

The Quakers recently hit one of their highest points during their Section 2-4A series against Trib HSSN’s Class 4A No. 1 team, Blackhawk.

On April 26, the Quakers (4-8, 3-5) dropped a 5-4 decision to the Cougars but scored their four runs in the sixth and seventh innings to put Blackhawk on the ropes. After a lack of production all season, it was a nice sight to see for coach Dean Owrey.

When the Cougars visited Quaker Valley the next day, the Quakers continued to hit. They plated four runs in the first, one in the second, two in both the third and the fourth and then capped off the 12-2 win with three runs in the fifth to 10-run rule the first-place Cougars.

“We gave them a run in the sixth and the seventh inning on Monday and then that turned into one, two, three, four and five innings (the next day),” Owrey said. “So, that’s kind of how the last two games have gone, and that’s encouraging, but one game doesn’t make a trend. So while we were satisfied (that) night, we can’t remain satisfied. That’s the enemy of greatness.”

Through the first part of the season, the Quakers battled some of the top teams in their section and played a tough nonsection schedule, as well. Their four victories have come against South Side Beaver, Central Valley (twice) and Blackhawk. They’ve played the top three teams in the section — Blackhawk, Montour and New Castle — and still have matchups against both Beaver and Ambridge, who have combined for five total wins.

The Quakers have been competitive in losses, as well. They lost to Montour by two runs, dropped a tough one-run nonsection game to Hopewell, and also lost to Moon by one run. So, although their record may not reflect the improvements they’ve made, Owrey said their tough schedule has prepared them for the second half of the season.

“We have a tough section schedule and we have an equally difficult nonsection purposely because guys need to know what tough competition looks like,” Owrey said. “I expect that our second half will be better than our first half, and I have no reason to believe that (Blackhawk) was an aberration because I’ve seen this team do this before.”

So far this year, junior Jack Gardinier has been leading the way for the Quakers with a .343 batting average, 12 hits, three RBIs and four doubles. He also has pitched 1313 innings and has produced a 3.68 ERA.

“Jack is an athlete, there’s no other better description, he’s just an athlete,” Owrey said. “He’s a game planner, he’s been the most consistent out of the bunch. He’s got guys around him as well who are also talented, but they’ve just had a little more inconsistency.”

Consistency and run production are two things the Quakers have lacked. When they are hitting well, they might not be fielding or pitching well and vice versa. It’s happened on multiple occasions. Their win over Blackhawk was the first time that everything came together at once.

Owrey is hoping his team can build on that win because a game like that can often open things up mentally for players and allow them to relax at the plate and deliver in big situations.

“We tell the guys that’s it’s not good enough to just hit the baseball; you have to hit the baseball hard and for a moment you got to have some aggression,” Owrey said. “So, when they are hitting the ball hard and other guys are seeing their teammates hit the ball hard, it’s a contagious element of the game and we saw that against Blackhawk. It just inspires the next guy.”

While their run production has been inconsistent, Owrey has gotten a lot on the mound from junior Andrew Glas. He’s appeared in six games, throwing 2623 innings with a 2.10 ERA.

He has pitched five or more innings on three occasions and threw a complete-game four-hitter against South Side Beaver on April 6. But, Owrey is still looking to provide Glas with a little more run support.

“He’s done an outstanding job for us; we just haven’t given him any run support,” Owrey said. “He’s pitched really top of the shelf. He’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do, we just haven’t given him any run support. He can throw a two- or three-run game, and we have to be able to score that many runs.”

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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