The Blue Devils were hurt by four errors.
BUTLER -- Sharpsville High's baseball season came to an end Thursday with a 12-6 loss to Riverside in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AA tournament.
"There is no doubt which was the better team today," said Sharpsville (19-3) coach Kirk Scurpa. "They hit the ball great and it didn't matter who was pitching for us. We threw all of our pitchers at them and they hit all of them well. We just couldn't stop them."
Although the Panthers (22-2) had 14 base hits, the Blue Devils proved to be their own worst enemies. They committed four errors and had a number of mental lapses, including having two runners picked off first base.
"You can't take anything away from that team, but we did have a couple of meltdowns today," said Scurpa. "We didn't play very well defensively and we definitely didn't do a good job of running the bases. But all those things considered, we lost to a really good team today."
Riverside took an early lead, then had an answer for every Sharpsville rally.
After scoring single runs in the first and second innings, the Panthers added a pair in the third to take a 4-0 lead.
Sharpsville cut its deficit in half in the fourth inning, but Riverside answered that with a six-run rally in the bottom of the frame to take a 10-2 lead.
"They definitely had an answer for everything we did today," said Scurpa. "We fought hard, came back at them, but today, it just didn't happen. There is no doubt in my mind that today they were the better team and it was a different team than I watched play [in a 6-3 win over Brookville] the other day. I would have never thought that we would lose a game in which we scored six runs, but I guess that wasn't to be the case."
Sharpsville senior Shawn Valenly completed his fine career by going 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs, while classmate Brian Perfilio finished 3-for-3 with a run scored and one RBI.
"We lose some really good kids off this team," said Scurpa. "We lose Valenly, [Jordan] Cataldi, [Chris] Mielecki, Perfilio and [Ryan] Dufford, who are all great kids who have meant a lot to the success of our program.
"We have a lot coming back, but at the end of the year, you miss those kids who have put in all of that time to your program to make it what it is."
Scurpa noted underclassmen Kyle Rupp, Josh Fyffe, Ryan Morris, Jarryd Summers, Ian Brown, Matt Davies who gained valuable experience for 2006.
Rupp doubled and scored in the seventh inning, Fyffe went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs and Davies had a single.
"That [the experience gained by the underclassmen] is not for sale anywhere around here," said Scurpa. "We bring a lot of freshmen up to watch what happens and to go through it with us and it helps.
"We had hopes of a better ending, but we had a good season and we won't let this loss take that away from us," said Scurpa.