Trib HSSN baseball team of the week for May 7, 2023

Sunday, May 7, 2023 | 9:40 PM

It wasn’t supposed to be this way for the defending champions.

The regular season was three and a half weeks old, and last year’s WPIAL Class 6A baseball winners were without a win.

It wasn’t like Mt. Lebanon had graduated everybody from its golden season last spring, in fact, it was considered one of the teams to beat again this season.

However, on the night of April 10, following another close loss, the Blue Devils were 0-4 in Section 2-6A and 0-8 overall.

“When we were 0-8, we were ahead in all eight games,” Mt. Lebanon coach Patt McCloskey said. “We did not play well against right good teams. We had the lead and made mistakes, and you can’t make mistakes against very good teams.

“If you get your doors blown off, then it’s easy to turn the page. This was eight games where you walk off the field and think ‘We should have won that one,’ and that really wears on you.”

Mt. Lebanon persevered, and the pendulum has swung in its favor the past three-plus weeks.

The Blue Devils have won six straight and nine of their last ten games and will finish in second place in the section behind Canon-McMillan as they prepare to defend their district crown.

“We had some injuries, and we’ve had to move some things around, McCloskey said. “It’s a testament to some of these older kids and experienced kids and some kids who refused to look at 0-8 and focused on the game that was in front of them. Fortunately we were able to turn things around a little bit.”

The Blue Devils took two out of three from Central Catholic and Norwin, swept Hempfield and won the first two of the series against Baldwin by outscoring their opponents 53-8 with three shutouts and four wins in which they allowed only one run.

“We’ve had consistent pitching all year,” McCloskey said. “In the three Canon-Mac games, we had good enough pitching to win, but we had some defensive challenges. The defense has really shored up. Our two assistants, Dan Caponi and Brandon Whitfield, do so much work with the infielders every day. The pitching has been there, but we’ve really improved defensively.”

Like most teams, Mt. Lebanon had to wait for the wet weather to move on before finally getting on the field Thursday and Friday for the first two games of their final three-game section series against Baldwin.

Senior Matthew Delvaux allowed only a second-inning run as the Blue Devils defeated the Highlanders, 4-1.

“In the first game, it was a real competitive game,” McCloskey said. “Matthew was really on and he carried us through, but it was really close until the end.”

The next day, senior Tyler Smith started and pitched well, allowing only two runs as the score was tied after seven innings before Mt. Lebanon prevailed 3-2.

“It took us eight innings to win (Friday),” McCloskey said. “They didn’t lie down. Their kid pitched a phenomenal game. It got all the way until the eighth inning before he had to be taken out because of pitch count. They had chances to win.”

Mt. Lebanon is 9-9 overall and has one more section game Monday at Baldwin before closing out the regular season with a nonsection game against Chartiers Valley.

“I’ve played at Wallace Field (in Baldwin) every year since I’ve been coaching in 2000, and everything happens there. Every time you get off the bus at Wallace, you better play a great game because Baldwin at home is one of the greatest challenges. It’s a hard place to win, and our kids are amped up.”

2023 Trib HSSN Baseball Teams of the Week

Week 5 – South Side Rams

Week 4 – Pine-Richland Rams

Week 3 – Canon-McMillan Big Macs

Week 2 – Mars Fightin’ Planets

Week 1 – Shaler Titans


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