For the first time all season, the Quaker Valley baseball team has to find a way to rebound from a loss.
The Quakers dropped a 7-1 decision to Beaver Area in the WPIAL Class AA title game Tuesday at Consol Energy Park in North Franklin, Washington County.
They were trying to become the fifth team in history to win the WPIAL title with a perfect record (South Park would accomplish the feat later Tuesday night in the Class AAA title game).
Quaker Valley (21-1) now has six days to regroup before taking the field again for the PIAA Class AA opener Monday, but Quakers coach Todd Goble doesn't think his team actually needs to bounce back.
"We don't need to rebound from anything," Goble said. "That's our first loss. All we need to do is keep in our same routine, go back to practice and start playing again.
"These kids have been amazing. They've done a great job this year and one loss doesn't mean we're done."
In fact, recent history suggests that losing in the WPIAL final was good for the Quakers.
In five of the past six PIAA Class AA tournaments, the team that finished second in the WPIAL advanced just as far if not further than the District 7 champion.
Last year's WPIAL Class AA runner-up, Riverside, won the PIAA title.
"It's usually the team that lost [that goes further]," said Beaver coach Bruce Herstine. "It's usually that way because I think you get this high [from winning the WPIAL title] and the next baseball game just doesn't [seem to] mean as much."
For the Quakers to repeat Riverside's feat, they will have to revert back to the way they hit and pitched before Tuesday's game.
The WPIAL title game marked the first time all season Quaker Valley was held to fewer than four runs. The Quakers managed just three hits off Beaver starter Austin Ross and struck out 10 times.
"[Ross] was throwing strikes, throwing hard and just mixing it up," said Quaker Valley senior Jake Pilewicz, who plays on a travel team with Ross. "He's just a hard kid to hit against. There's just nothing you can do."
Pilewicz, the team's cleanup hitter, led the team with a .478 average during the regular season, while No. 3 batter Nelson Westwood hit .453. The duo had two of the team's three hits Tuesday.
Pilewicz is also one of the team's top pitchers, along with Tyler Garbee (8-0). Pilewicz entered the game 6-0, with a 2-0 record in the WPIAL playoffs. He had given up a combined five hits and zero runs in his two postseason starts before Tuesday.
But Beaver lit him up for five runs on five hits and knocked him out of the game after 21/3 innings. He walked two and struck out none.
"I was leaving the ball up a little bit, but they came out ready," Pilewicz said. "They were attacking every pitch I threw. You have to give them credit -- they hit the ball. But it wasn't as good as I've been."
Pilewicz and the rest of the Quakers will have a chance to rebound next week and write a better ending to their magical season.
This season marked the first time since 2006 that Quaker Valley qualified for the playoffs. And after five consecutive seasons with sub-.500 records, the Quakers now have strung together two winning seasons in a row.
"What they've done for the community and Quaker Valley baseball is beyond what these people can comprehend right now," Goble said.
But that doesn't mean Quaker Valley is content with its runner-up finish.
"It's awesome to be [in the WPIAL championship], but we're not going to settle," Pilewicz said. "We're upset we lost this game and we're going to take it out in the playoffs. We're going to try and make a run at states."