SECTION IV BASEBALL: SEVENTH-SEED LANSING UPENDS SECOND-SEED WAVERLY, 7-0, IN CLASS B QUARTERS (24 PHOTOS)
(2023-05-22)By TIM BIRNEYValley Sports Report
WAVERLY — Postseason baseball is all about pitching, and Lansing senior Zack Sperger was “lights out” in leading the seventh-seeded Bobcats to a 7-0 win over second-seeded Waverly here Monday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Section IV, Class B baseball playoffs.
“Good pitching shuts down good hitting any day, and we know that,” said Waverly coach Kyle McDuffee. “Today, we faced a good pitcher.
“(Sperger) was changing it up really well. He kept us off balance — he was just lights out.
“Lansing is always well-coached, and they always play solid defense,” noted McDuffee. “You have to beat them with base hits, and we didn’t do that today.
“My guys are good hitters, but Sperger absolutely shut us down,” he added.
The Wolverines didn’t help themselves either, committing six errors, and a couple of other miscues that allowed base-runners to take an extra base, or batters to extend at-bats.
“I would say we struggled defensively for seven innings,” said McDuffee. “We didn’t make the plays we should be making, and that we usually make … we just didn’t play well defensively today.”
The Wolverines were 17-2 on the regular season, with both setbacks by one run against PIAA, District 4 playoff teams (Athens and Montoursville).
“We played good ball all year long,” said McDuffee. “We had one bad game, and it was today.
“Every team has a bad game once in a while, and ours happened to show up in the first round of Sectionals,” he added.
Sperger led off the game with a rocket line-drive to left field that senior Nate DeLill tracked down, but couldn’t haul in, resulting in a two-base error.
Lansing’s next three batters also laid good wood on the ball, but DeLill hauled in one in left field, and senior Bryce Bailey tracked down two in center field.
Junior Joey Tomasso singled for one of Waverly’s two hits off Sperger with one out in the top of the first inning, but was left stranded at third base after stealing second, and taking third as the throw sailed into center field.
In the top of the second, Waverly Jay Pipher walked the lead-off hitter, but retired the next two batters. Three straight doubles, however, gave the Bobcats a 3-0 lead, and a fourth run scored on a single, and an outfield error.
Eighth-grader Matthias Welles led off the second with a line-drive single to left field, but that was the Wolverines’ last hit of the game.
Lansing would take advantage of two errors in the top of the fifth inning to make it 5-0, then used two base on balls, two errors, and a passed ball to plate two more runs in the top of the sixth to extend the lead to 7-0.
Sperger fanned nine and walked two in the complete-game, seven-inning two-hitter to earn the win.
Tomasso and Welles had Waverly’s only hits.
Pipher was tagged with the loss, allowing four runs — three earned — on four hits, while striking out one and walking one in 1 2/3 innings.
Junior Sean Bubniak allowed three runs — one earned — on three hits, while striking out three and walking four in 3 1/3 innings of relief, and freshman Ronin Ault struck out three and walked two in two innings of scoreless relief.
The Wolverines wrap up the season at 17-3, and lose three seniors in Ty Beeman, Bryce Bailey, and Nate DeLill.
“All three of them contributed a lot to our program, I’m going to miss all three of them,” said McDuffee. “They are just good kids, with a passion to play baseball.
“And, they’re all going off to play college ball — Ty and Bryce to play baseball, and Nate to play football.
“They are going to do good things at the next level,” added McDuffee. “They are all really hard workers.”
With Waverly set to enter the STAC for the 2023-24 school year, McDuffee knows his program has some work to do.
“We have a lot of talent returning, but we lose those seniors in key positions, so we’ll have to figure out how to replace them.
“We have guys like Joe (Tomasso) and Joe (Pipher), who will be ready to step in and assume the senior leadership. Jake VanHouten is another one,” noted McDuffee.
“We have a good senior class, and a lot of good young players returning,” he added. “But, we have some work to do.”
IN PHOTO 1: Waverly 8th-grader Matthias Welles lines a single into left field. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.
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