Lewisburg pushed Valley View to limit in a 2-run loss

SOUTH CENTRE TOWNSHIP — Lewisburg held its quickest post-game huddle following Monday’s Class AAAA state tournament opener.

Really, there was not much else to say other than congratulations. Sure, Dixon Black and Duke Starfusky combined on a five-hitter as District 2 champion Valley View defeated Lewisburg, 4-2, and ended its season. But for a program that before last season had not reached the playoffs since 2000, there was plenty to smile about.

Dakotah Snyder and Aaron Hoover each delivered two hits and Nick Shedleski threw six strong innings as Lewisburg’s best season in 18 years ended Monday. The Green Dragons (13-10) rallied from a 5-8 start just to reach the playoffs, outscored three district opponents, 25-0, and pushed a serious state title contender to the limit.

“The only thing we said to them was we’re extremely proud of what they did. They’re laying the foundation,” Lewisburg coach Brian Zysset said. “It’s something to work on for next season to try and get back here and advance. The kids battled. They worked hard. A lot of people discount them but I wouldn’t trade their work ethic for the world.”

“We’re bringing baseball back to Lewisburg,” said Snyder, who also threw out a runner trying to steal. “It’s been gone for so long and and to do this, this season is going to make more kids want to come out. It’s going to make us a better baseball school.”

Lewisburg showed it is pretty good right now, cutting a 4-0 fourth-inning deficit in half while bringing the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning. Valley View (14-5), however, stranded 10 runners and Lewisburg hit 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

Black struck out nine in five innings and Starfusky fanned three in two innings, earning the save. Black left the bases loaded in both the fourth and fifth innings and Starfusky left a runner on third, ending the game with a strikeout.

It was not the ending Lewisburg wanted. But with only one senior starter graduating, it might also just be a beginning.

“We started 5-8 and things weren’t clicking but at the end of the year the bats started coming alive and the pitching was dominant and we started winning,” Snyder said. “We carried that over to districts and we were having a lot of fun winning and we hope to carry that into next season. We’re going to be back next year. We’re going to be back strong.”

Valley View will play District 3 champion Berks Catholic in the state quarterfinals Thursday. It scored four two-out runs in the third and fourth innings, taking a 4-0 lead. Mason Black hit an RBI triple in the third and Chase Combs’s RBI single highlighted the three-run fourth.

Owen Arndt drew an RBI walk in the bottom of the fourth and Lewisburg loaded the bases, but Black ended the threat with consecutive strikeouts. Lewisburg again loaded the bases, this time with two outs in the fifth, but Hoover’s hard shot was hit right at the left fielder for the third out.

Lewisburg mounted one last threat in the seventh. Snyder walked and Nick Shedleski hit a one-out single. Snyder scored on a passed ball, but Starfusky ended the comeback with a strikeout.

Shedleski threw another strong playoff game, striking out eight in six innings. Shedleski struck out 21 in his last two playoff starts and Hoover closed out his strong scholastic career by throwing a hitless seventh.

It was a solid performance, especially coming against a team that blanked defending state champion Dallas, 1-0 in the District 2 championship. The best might be coming, too.

“We work hard. We know the expectation now,” Zysset said. “Now it’s just coming back and exceeding what we did this season.”

“Just knowing that you can push a team that’s among the tops in the state like these guys gives us so much confidence going into next season,” Snyder said. “Knowing how close we were makes you realize how good we were.”

Valley View 001 300 0–4 7 1

Lewisburg 000 100 1–2 5 1

Dixon Black, Duke Starfusky (6) and Jeremy Boyle. Nick Shedleski, Aaron Hoover (7) and Dakotah Snyder W–Black.. L–Shedleski, (5-3). SV–Starfusky.

Top Valley View hitters: Black 2-4, run; Mason Black 1-3, 3B, RBI; Chase Combs 1-2, RBI, run; Corey Pezak 1-3, BB, run. Top Lewisburg hitters: Snyder 2-3, BB, run; Hoover 2-3; Owen Arndt BB, RBI; Shedleski 1-3, BB.

Records: Valley View (14-5), Lewisburg (13-10).