Surging Mt. Lebanon tops Pine-Richland behind gutsy shutout from Matt Delvaux

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 | 10:59 PM

The first week of the season, Matt Delvaux injured his hamstring while playing shortstop for Mt. Lebanon, an injury that sidelined him in the field for the year.

So it was decided that Delvaux would become a full-time pitcher and what was a tough start to a senior season has become a memorable one.

Delvaux has been dominant on the mound, and that continued Tuesday night as he pitched a complete game two-hit shutout in a 3-0 win over top-seeded Pine-Richland in the WPIAL semifinals, ensuring the Blue Devils will have a chance to defend their Class 6A title.

“I give all the credit to our trainer, Tony Turchetta, for getting him ready all season,” Mt. Lebanon coach Patt McCloskey said. “This year, he became one of the best pitchers in the WPIAL on one leg. How lucky am I that I get to coach a kid like that? I absolutely love all of these guys. I can’t thank Matt enough not just for tonight, but for the guts he’s shown all season.”

Mt. Lebanon (12-10) will face North Allegheny in the Class 6A championship game next week at Wild Things Park. Pine-Richland finished 15-7.

Delvaux, a Mercyhurst recruit, finished the job with a pair of strikeouts in the seventh. He had five strikeouts in the game and the Rams never got a runner to third base.

“One word to describe tonight was compete,” Delvaux said of his performance. “I mean, I competed, fed off the energy my teammates gave me and I just shoved.”

The big hit for Mt. Lebanon came in the top of the fifth off the bat of Tyler Smith.

A leadoff double by Brock Stacy, an error on a sacrifice attempt by Nate Girod and a hit by pitch to Jake Tinnemeyer loaded the bases. With one out, Smith singled to right field to plate Stacy and Girod.

On the previous pitch, Smith smashed a ball foul down the right field line. He was able to straighten the next offering out to give the Blue Devils the lead.

“It let me know that I was on it,” Smith said of the foul ball. “I was seeing it well the whole game and just missed a couple. I knew he was going to come back with another off-speed pitch and he did. I just sat on it. I didn’t put my best swing on it, but I’m happy it made it through.”

Pine-Richland starter Jacob McGuire was solid on the night, allowing just three hits. Outside of the fifth inning, he allowed only one other hit and five walks. Only one Blue Devil reached third base in the other six innings.

“Jacob pitched well,” Pine-Richland coach Kurt Wolfe said. “Unfortunately, they capitalized on our one error and we walked a few too many. We gave them six free passes and an error. They were fortunate to get a leadoff double and one of their three hits with the infield drawn in. That’s why I love baseball. It’s a game of inches, and unfortunately, it didn’t go our way tonight.”

A return to the championship game adds to an impressive turnaround for Mt. Lebanon, who started the season 0-8. Since then, they’ve gone 12-2.

“The start of the year, we found ways to lose,” Smith said. “The fielding wasn’t very clean and the bats weren’t working, but we knew once we sorted things out, we were going to be a very good team. It’s been really cool to see us put the pieces together. I’m excited for next week.”

Pine-Richland won a section championship for the second year in a row and returns six of the nine players in Tuesday’s starting lineup.

“I’m proud of what these young men accomplished,” Wolfe said. “We don’t have a big D-I or D-II arm and for us to do what we did is a tribute to how hard the guys worked this year and how gritty they’ve been.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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