West Xtra: Ohio Valley coming up a little short in Federation League
June 13, 2014 8:00 AM
Ohio Valley's Matt Shaffer winds up for a pitch during his team's Federation League game against Steel City in Crafton last Saturday.
By Ryan Riordan / Tri-State Sports & News Service
If Greater Pittsburgh Federation League baseball games lasted only seven innings, Ohio Valley would have had two wins and a tie in its first eight games.
But the Federation League plays nine-inning games, and Ohio Valley entered this week still looking for its first win.
"We've been in several games," Ohio Valley coach Pat Reilly said. "But we play nine innings, and we don't have nine innings worth of pitching. We need more arms."
Pat's son, Mike Reilly, has carried the load on the mound, throwing 28 of the team's first 57 innings this year and recording a 2.57 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in that span.
Matt Shaffer, who graduated from Fort Cherry and now plays for Bethany College, threw 142/3 innings in the team's first seven games and had a 3.07 earned-run average.
But behind those two, Reilly has had to mix and match.
"The games my son has pitched, we've been in the whole time," Reilly said. "Our first game of the season against Bellevue, it was 1-1 in the top of the ninth, and then they scored two runs to win, 3-1.
"Other teams, in that situation, bring in their closer and shut us down. We don't have a closer."
Reilly anticipated having Dan Petrella fill that role, as he did for Bethany this season when he had a 2-0 record with six saves and a 0.69 earned run average. But Petrella, a Montour High School graduate, has yet to pitch for Ohio Valley due to obligations he has to another team and his job.
The injury bug has also played a role in Ohio Valley's lack of pitching depth. The team expected to have two more Bethany pitchers, Joey Giles (Sto-Rox) and Zak Kozlowski (Baldwin) in its rotation this season, but Giles underwent Tommy John surgery this spring and Kozlowski recently was diagnosed with a torn labrum.
But it's not just pitching that the team has been missing. At times, Reilly has had trouble fielding a team on game day, having to once play an inning in the field himself because his ninth player was late to the game due to car trouble.
"Once he got here, I told him he was in and I got out," Reilly said. "I'm getting too old for that."
Shane Conley, a Carlynton graduate and outfielder for Point Park University, has been to just four games this season. But when he's been in the lineup, he's been the team's sparkplug, hitting .467 with a home run, three RBIs and four runs scored. Ohio Valley didn't hit a round-tripper all of last season. Conley also has two stolen bases, and he led Point Park with 23 this past season.
"He's our sparkplug," Reilly said. "He gets on base, he's very fast and he creates things for us. He also runs down everything in center field."
Due to the lack of numbers, Ohio Valley has also gotten some help from the South Park team in the McKeesport Daily News League.
Carter Grote, who graduated from South Park in 2013 and played this year at Furman University, has played a few games for Ohio Valley, going 4 for 6 with a walk and two RBIs.
Reilly is hoping to get more help like that and is still actively recruiting players as the late June deadline to have rosters finalized approaches.
He's convinced that if he has his full arsenal of players available, Ohio Valley can beat anyone in the league.
"If I have my starting nine, we can play with anyone," Reilly said. "We've had some close games that I know would be wins if everyone would have been there."
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