Steelheads continue strong run in West Virginia

Warren's Nick Hussey and his Erie Steelheads teammates had a busy weekend at the Mountaineer Cup Championship.

GRANVILLE, W.Va. – After a 9-1 win in their opener at the Mountaineer Cup Championship in West Virginia, the Erie Steelheads 16U will play in the finals following a 1-2 weekend.

The Steelies earned a 6-3 win over West Hills 16U on Saturday, followed by a 5-1 setback to the Flood City Elite.

On Sunday, they were bested by the Mid-Atlantic Red Sox 16U, and those two teams will meet again on Monday at 8 a.m. Flood City could have potentially played on Monday, but they had to depart following their final game on Sunday.

Here’s a full rundown of the Steelies (26-7) weekend.

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Steelheads 6, West Hills 3

Aidan Kelly tossed a complete game, allowing just one earned run and six hits with four strikeouts, as the Steelies scored five runs in the bottom of the third en route to the win.

West Hills struck for a pair of unearned runs in the, but their lead was short lived.

The Steelies strung together five consecutive singles to start the inning, stared by Jared Bielanin (McDowell) and Warren’s Mitch Grosch. Matt Shepard brought in his high school teammate Bielanin to get Erie on the board and Casey Smith (Harbor Creek) brought in Grosch to tie the game.

Mason Bender (Fairview) followed with a single that scored two more and Cody Smith’s RBI groundout put the finishing touches no the inning.

That was more than enough for Kelly, who did allow an RBI single in the top of the fourth, but the Steelheads got that run right back on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Shepard that brought in Warren’s Ryan Rafalski.

For the Warren boys, Grosch (third base) finished 2-for-3 with a run scored, while Rafalski (shortstop) was 1-for-3 with a run scored and Micah Passmore (left field-catcher) was 1-for-3.

Bielanin and Shepard had two hits each.

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Flood City Elite 5, Steelheads 1

The Steelies faced probably the best pitcher they have seen this summer in this one in the form of Huntingdon, Pa. product Rece Ritchey, a 6-4 lefty who is already verbally committed to the University of Virginia and is the No. 4 ranked player in Pennsylvania’s class of 2020 per Prep Baseball Report.

Ritchey was terrific against a potent Steelheads offense, allowing just two hits and 12 strikeouts, walking four.

Those two hits belonged to Grosch and Bender.

Flood City led 1-0 going into the fourth inning, but the Steelies tied the game as Shepard walked and was pinch-run for by Warren’s Nick Hussey, who advanced to second on a passed ball, third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.

Flood City struck for three runs in the bottom half of the inning, however, courtesy of an RBI double from Keegan Soltis (Philipsburg-Osceola), an RBI single off the bat of Nick Helsel and a sac fly.

Passmore, Rafalski, Casey Smith and Shepard also drew walks against Ritchey.

Shepard, despite being overshadowed on the mound, pitched well, allowing just two earned runs in his five innings of work, allowing three hits and striking out six.

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Mid-Atlantic Red Sox 16U 7, Steelheads 4

The Steelies jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first inning, but the Red Sox, whose 17U team features Warren’s Aidan Morrison and Austyn Cummings, were able to rally.

Hussey started the game and went 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, striking out six and walking two.

Bender and Cody and Casey Smith all reached to load the bases with no outs in the top of the first, which was followed by Grosch getting plunked to bring in a run.

Shepard walked to bring in another run and Casey Smith scored on a passed ball, but Red Sox starting pitcher Camden Burris (St. Joesph’s Catholic Academy/Boalsburg, Pa.) was able to wiggle out of further damage.

Cody Smith made it 4-1 Steelies in the fourth on his RBI single that brought in Bielanin, but the Red Sox erupted for six runs in the fifth.

An RBI single from Will Bean (Gonzaga College High School/Washington D.C.) made it 4-2 and a 2-run single off the bat of Devan Barnett (Riverdale Baptist/Upper Marlboro, Md.) tied the game. Hunter Coe’s (Hedgesville, W. Va.) 2-run single gave the Red Sox a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and the game ended in the bottom of the sixth when the time limit was up.

Passmore (right field-left field) went 2-for-3 and Rafalski (shortstop) was 1-for-3. Cody Smith also had two hits for the Steelies.