The Quince Orchard Varsity Baseball Cougars ended a strong season this week with a loss to the Clarksburg Coyotes, 8-3, in the second round of playoffs. This followed a strong first round playoff win against Northwest.
Last week, the Cougars defeated archrival Northwest on the road 13-0 via mercy rule.
“There were a lot of surprises (in the game),” said Coach Jason Gasaway. “We hadn’t hit the ball that well all season, and we came out and swung very well. … Once we got a fastball, we were on time and hit it hard.”
Brian Ropelewski was a key contributor in this win, pitching a five-inning complete game with just four hits and three strikeouts.
“We’ve kinda been throwing different guys out there. (Ropelewski’s) been throwing a lot of strikes, and been throwing really well lately,” Coach Gasaway praised.
“I definitely think (this season’s) been a learning curve,” senior catcher, starting pitcher, and first baseman Bryan Gurcan said. “We’ve been through some adversity through injuries. It’s not what we planned for, but we’ve adjusted.”
In spite of the injury woes and the resulting adjustments to the Cougars’ lineup, the team still clawed their way to a playoff spot off the back of a 7-9 regular season record. And on top of that, starting first baseman Eric Wong is returning from a wrist injury that kept him on the shelf for much of the regular season.
Junior shortstop Griffin Snyder believes that “… the regular season was tough, but we can turn around our whole season with a deep run in the playoffs.”
The Cougars are a very young team. Coach Gasaway counted on his hand how many starters were seniors, and he had fingers to spare. However, this has served them well this season.
Luke Evans, a junior, hit both a two-run double (just a part of the seven-run fourth inning they had) and a bases-clearing double the next inning in their rout of Northwest, sealing the mercy rule victory.
Snyder believes bursts of offense like this are vital to postseason success, stressing “we have to keep our energy up and be able to have big rallies.”
The spirit and optimism that this group of guys has is very admirable, and they expressed confidence in what they can do in the future. Gurcan relished the challenge this postseason. He liked how “we’re known as underdogs, and teams have started to take us lightly … during playoffs, those state games, anything can happen.”