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Jun. 1—The Montour baseball team won the tough Section 2-4A title by two games.

It was a blue collar team with white collar success.

It won 13 of 18 games, but many were nail-biters that were a preview of the Spartans’ postseason.

“We have been in so many close games this season that I am convinced it prepared us for what to expect in the playoffs,” Montour coach Bob Janeda said. “Whether it is strategy or personnel, there isn’t a situation that we really aren’t prepared for. We lost five games this year by a total of six runs. Four of the losses, to Central Valley, Blackhawk, South Fayette and West Allegheny, were by one run and the other loss was by two runs against Central Catholic.”

Montour earned the top seed in the 13-team WPIAL Class 4A playoffs and was awarded a first-round bye.

Janeda said there was good and bad to the 11-day layoff between the regular season and the 4A quarterfinals.

“I was very concerned,” Janeda said. “We worked hard over those 11 days in practice and had a scrimmage with Seneca Valley, which helped. However, after coming out of a very tough conference schedule and then finishing the season with two very good nonsection games against South Fayette and West Allegheny, the 11-day layoff was nice as it provided us the time to rest and get healthy. It was four or five days longer than I would have preferred.”

Montour opened its postseason against a familiar foe in Quaker Valley. The Quakers defeated Knoch in the first round to set up a third meeting with the Spartans, who won twice twice in the regular season.

“I was worried about this game for a number of reasons,” Janeda said. “First, the extended lay off and secondly, Quaker Valley is a very good team who improved as the season went on. They were a much different team than the one we opened up against in late March. Finally, we are a very young team and I wasn’t sure how the guys were going to react to the pressure of WPIAL playoff baseball.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, Montour scored three runs in the third to take the lead.

The Quakers regained the lead in the fifth inning and were poised for the upset before the Spartans answered with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead for good.

“I couldn’t have been more proud of how they responded,” Janeda said. “(Dylan) Mathiesen wasn’t as sharp as he was all year, but he was able to give us five innings. From a pitching perspective, we hoped for five out of him, we then used (Mason) Sike for a bridge inning in the sixth and felt very good bringing in our senior lefty (Gannon) Kadlecik for the final three outs. Offensively, we did just enough to win the game and we were able to deliver some quality at-bats and clutch hits when they were needed most.”

Following the 6-5 win, Montour moved on to the final four and a showdown with the WPIAL Class 5A runner-up from 2019, Laurel Highlands.

“When we boarded the bus on campus to leave for Fox Chapel, I sensed a very loose and relaxed team,” Janeda said. “It was a much different feeling than the day before. The guys had the music playing, and there was a lot of positive energy on the bus trip. Winning the tight game the night before and getting the rust off from having eleven days off helped tremendously.

“Secondly, and most importantly, Kadlecik was lights out on the mound. He gave us six strong innings allowing only one run. We got exactly what we hoped for from our senior leader in a big game.”

Sike had two doubles and four RBIs, and Aidan Deluca added two hits and two runs batted in. Each had a pair of hits as the Spartans scored two runs each in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings and cruised to an 8-1 victory.

Montour is one win from the school’s first baseball championship in nearly a half-century. The Spartans, which won gold in 1972, will face a familiar opponent in New Castle, a team Montour defeated twice this season.

“I think it is going to be a great ballgame, just like the prior two were earlier in the season,” Janeda said. “New Castle doesn’t have many weaknesses. We have seen their ace twice so I suspect we will see him again. He is a tremendous pitcher, and we will have to work very hard to put together some quality at-bats. We also have some pretty good pitching, as well, so I expect it to be a close, low-scoring game.”

2021 Trib HSSN Baseball Teams of the Week:

Week 8 — Peters Township Indians

Week 7 — Eden Christian Academy Warriors

Week 6 — Laurel Highlands Mustangs

Week 5 — Bethel Park Black Hawks

Week 4 — Hopewell Vikings

Week 3 — Hempfield Spartans

Week 2 — Shaler Titans

Week 1 — Valley Vikings