Steel Valley captures 2nd WPIAL baseball title with comeback victory over Hopewell
Tuesday, May 28, 2019 | 11:48 PM
Steel Valley has a knack for championship comebacks.
The Ironmen dramatically overcame a four-run deficit Tuesday night and defeated Hopewell, 5-4, in eight innings at Wild Things Park in the WPIAL Class 3A baseball championship. The late rally brought back memories from 2014, when Steel Valley scored three times in the seventh to win that year’s title.
“This place has been very good to us, but not very good on my heart,” Steel Valley coach Pat Loughran said.
Tied 4-4 in the eighth, Steel Valley senior Andre Good poked a go-ahead single to right, scoring senior Joe Kraft from second. Good then held Hopewell scoreless in the bottom of the eighth, completing his third shutout inning in relief to earn the win.
Second-seeded Hopewell (15-6) scored four runs in the third — all with two outs — to take a 4-0 lead. Fourth-seeded Steel Valley (13-8) rallied with one run in the fourth and three in the seventh to force extra innings.
“If I told you I wasn’t nervous, I’d be lying to you,” said Good, a Youngstown State recruit who went 3 for 5 with a triple, a run and an RBI. “Once they went up four runs, I knew it was going to be a dog fight.”
Steel Valley improved to 2-0 in WPIAL championships. Loughran, a first-year head coach, was an assistant when the team defeated Seton LaSalle, 6-5, in 2014. Both times the Ironmen scored three runs in the seventh inning.
“When we were down 4-0 it could have got ugly,” Loughran said. “We could have rolled over. We kept battling, we kept fighting. One thing this team has taught me is how to trust them.”
In the postgame jubilation, his players doused him twice with ice water.
Hopewell was trying to win its fourth WPIAL title after finishing as runner-up in 2013. The Vikings had stranded nine Steel Valley runners through the first six innings before the Ironmen broke through.
“We just had to put some things together,” said Kraft, who drew a leadoff walk in the seventh. “Everyone worked as a team and we came out on top.”
Good and Brady Miller followed with singles and all three eventually scored to force a 4-4 tie. Miller scored the tying run on Terevon Harris’ bases-loaded sacrifice fly to right.
Kraft reached base three times and scored twice.
“We lived dangerously the entire game,” Hopewell coach Michael Shuleski said. “We issued 11 walks, two hit by pitches, and against a team like that they’re going to break through at some point. Unfortunately the timing was in the seventh when they got all the momentum.”
All three seventh-inning runs were charged to Hopewell reliever Joshua Miklos. Roman Gill, who pitched the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth innings, took the loss in relief. Vikings starter Jacob McGovern allowed one run on three hits and six walks in 3 2/3 innings.
Steel Valley used only two pitchers. Junior starter Nick Harhai allowed four unearned runs on three hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out six.
Good pitched the final three innings and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth with an inning-ending double play. But his defense also came through in the eighth when center fielder Jacob Bayus chased down a one-out flyball with a Hopewell runner on base.
Good allowed one hit, two walks and struck out two.
“It’s a difficult thing to be in this stadium, to be in this atmosphere and lose the way that we did,” Shuleski said. “The championship in 2013 was tough as well. … We don’t have good memories from the two times we played here.”
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .