Valley baseball rallies to beat Beaver Falls in playoff opener
By: William Whalen
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 | 11:49 PM
A note to freshmen pitchers who will take the hill this postseason for their first playoff start. The secret recipe for a successful outing is get plenty of rest the day of the game, eat a few slices of pizza, play a few video games and then go out and pitch your team to a win.
That's what Valley freshman standout pitcher Cayden Quinn did as he helped No. 5 seeded Valley to a 7-5 come-from-behind win over No. 12 Beaver Falls in the first round of the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs Tuesday at Shaler's Matulevic Field.
“I found out (last) Friday that I was going to start,” said Quinn. “I was excited and couldn't wait to play this game.”
Valley (11-6) moves on to the quarterfinal round to face No. 4 Brownsville (12-2) on Monday at a site and time to be determined. The teams met in the first round last year with Brownsville winning, 8-0.
“I knew it wasn't going to be an easy game. It was going to be a tough one,” Valley coach Jim Basilone said of the Beaver Falls game. “We have some freshmen in the lineup, and this is their first playoff game as freshmen, so they've never been here and they don't know the atmosphere of it.”
The atmosphere for Valley was hazy at first and those in attendance had to be wondering if starting Quinn was the right decision. He gave up hits to the first two Beaver Falls batters, then came back and walked three in a row to hand the Tigers (6-9) an early 2-0 lead. That was when Basilone made to walk out to the hill to settle down his young pizza-eating hurler.
“I feel like in the first inning, I was out of whack and had no rhythm,” Quinn said. “(Coach Basilone) said I just needed to throw strikes and the team will make plays behind (me).”
With the bases loaded, Quinn responded with two strikeouts before Beaver Falls' Curtis Pagely hit a pop fly to shallow center field to end the inning.
But while Quinn was settling down and finding his way in his first postseason start, Beaver Falls starting pitcher, Cameron Kern, was throwing a gem. The junior right-hander kept the Vikings guessing early on and carried a no-hitter through three innings.
Things changed in the fourth inning once the Vikings batted through the lineup. Nick Heuser hit a lead-off single and Shane Demharter followed with a single to left to put runners on first and third. Heuser stole home from third to put the Vikings on the board but still trailed, 2-1.
Shawn Demharter doubled to the left-center warning track to score his brother Shane and tie the game at 2-2. Andrew Serakowski singled through the gap at second to bring home Shawn Demharter, and Dan Antonacci added a single to give Valley a 4-2 lead with one out. Shawn Demharter finished 2 for 3 with a double and a RBI.
“I knew that once we started hitting and got runners on base that we would get a lot of runs,” Basilone said. “It gets contagious.”
Quinn singled to left field to score Serakowski and freshman John Luke Bailey doubled to right field to score Quinn and give Valley a 6-2 lead.
“The freshmen grew up pretty fast and these freshmen aren't freshmen now, they're sophomores in my mind,” Basilone said.
The Tigers scored two runs in the fifth inning to bring the score to 6-4. Bailey came up big again in the sixth when he hit a chopper though the gap at short to score Quinn from third base for the insurance run.
Quinn (5-0) was a force from the eighth spot in the order, finishing 2 for 3 including a triple and an RBI. From the hill, he gave up six hits, five runs, three earned, and struck out five through six inning. Shawn Demharter took over in the seventh to close the deal for the Vikings.
“We're going to come to play and let the chips fall where the may,” Basilone said, looking forward to the rematch with Brownsville. “We'll be ready.”
William Whalen is a freelance writer.