Bears hit a buzz saw
SWIFTWATER - Pleasant Valley's magical 2010 season has come to an end.
Four days after winning the program's first district title in nearly three decades, the Bears had to come back out and take the field against Owen J. Roberts in their first-round state playoff game.
Whether it was Pleasant Valley's complacency with its district championship or the fact that it was simply over-matched, the Bears were beat up by the No. 3 seed from District 1, 16-0.
"The bottom kind of fell out today," said Pleasant Valley head coach Karl Rentzheimer. "This is the best team we have played by far. They bat well. They pitch. They probably had the best shortstop we have seen all year; definitely the best pitcher, and they are the most athletic team we have seen. Honestly, they are a step above us."
Renztheimer confessed afterward that at this point in the season, he and his team were content with that they had accomplished. While they did hope to win a game or two in the state playoffs, Renztheimer and his coaching staff noticed that the team didn't carry the same fire in practice that it had over the last few weeks.
"I felt that anything after Thursday was icing on the cake," admitted Rentzheimer. "It's no excuse for our performance today, but we the coaches felt that the kids didn't have that edge during practice the last few days.
"There is so much pressure to win the district title that it seems like it is the pinnacle. It's the climax.Once you get there and you win it, its like 'Wow, this is awesome.' You forget that you have to go and play a couple more baseball games."
Pleasant Valley went with lefty Xavier Hammond to start. While he got through the first inning unscathed, he surrendered two runs in the second. Things could have been a lot worse though. The Wildcats had the bases loaded with no outs, but Hammond got a fielder's choice (out at home) and a line drive double play to end the inning.
Things then fell apart in the third, as the Wildcats sent 12 batters to the dish and plated six runs on four hits. Of the eight runs Hammond allowed, six were earned.
"There was just no way I was going to start Pat (Kregeloh) today," said Renztheimer. "It entered my mind briefly and maybe if he was on four days rest, but I am not going to do that to a kid.
"I have always preached about taking care of a kid's arm. He was bugging me during a couple of the pitching changes and I told him it was not going to happen. There was no need to put him out there. He has proven himself enough and has too bright of a future to take that kind of chance."
Neither of the Bears' other two pitchers faired much better than Hammond. Alex Jimenez was charged with three runs, including three walks and three hit-by-pitches. Russell Baldino followed in the fifth and gave up five runs on two home runs.
Pleasant Valley's only hit of the day belonged to Derrik Walling, who singled in the third. He also walked during his first plate appearance.
Kregeloh, the school's all-time home run leader, stepped to bat in the third with the bases loaded and a chance to do some damage. However, he grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
Although Monday's loss is a tough way to end the season, the Bears have a lot to be proud of. This year's squad set a new school record for wins in a season with 22 and won their first Mountain Valley Conference and District 11 titles since 2006 and 1984 respectively.
"I told the guys in the huddle that this should be a celebration of what they did this year," said Rentzheimer. "I'm not going to focus on this game and you can't. The excitement that this team has generated in the school with this run the last two weeks I haven't seen anything like that.
"It was exciting and I am happy for the kids. They have nothing to hang their heads over. It's going to sting for a day or two, but the sun is still coming up in the east tomorrow."
Oral J. Roberts 026 17 - 16 14 2
Pleasant Valley 000 00 - 0 1 3
Ponto and Piskai; Hammond, Jimenez (3), Baldino (5) and D'Arcy. W - Ponto, L - Hammond. HR: OR - Patete (2nd, none on), Piskai (5th, two on), Vining (5th, one on).