Spring-Ford stopped in PIAA quarterfinals by Tinnemeyer’s heroics for Mount Lebanon

NEWVILLE >> Though it wasn’t by design, Jake Tinnemeyer picked objectively the best time to hit his first home run of the season.

Tied 2-2 against District 1 runner-up Spring-Ford during the top of the ninth inning in the PIAA Class 6A quarterfinals, Tinnemeyer delivered a two-run shot over the left fence, enough to break the stalemate in a 5-2 win for Mt. Lebanon at Big Spring High School on Thursday.

The District 7 champion Blue Devils (15-10) advance to the state semifinals and will face District 3 champion Cedar Cliff, a 2-1 winner over North Allegheny, on Monday at a time and site to be determined. Spring-Ford was stopped to conclude a 22-5 campaign where it was a the Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division champion, No. 1 seed in the District 1 tournament and reached the final.

“That entire at-bat, I was getting the bunt sign,” Tinnemeyer said. “That was actually the first pitch I wasn’t squared around for. I just saw the way he was throwing his curveball in warmups and I just knew a fastball was coming then. I was looking for any fastball over the plate, looking to drive it.”

Matthew Delvaux (Mercyhurst) added a one-run single after Tinnemeyer’s homer, giving Mt. Lebanon its final three-run cushion.

Having started the season 0-8, the Blue Devils are not only state semifinal-bound, but also won the WPIAL Class 6A title en route to a District 7 championship as well.

“It’s been really, really cool. It’s been a lot of fun obviously, but I think we’re all ready for this next week and I think we all want it,” Tinnemeyer said.

The game was a pitchers’ duel between Mike deHaan for the Rams and Mt. Lebanon southpaw David Shields. A lefty who threw a no-hitter against North Allegheny in the WPIAL title game, Shields is a verbal University of Miami commit who decided to reclassify for the Class of 2024.

Mt. Lebanon pitcher David Shields winds back to throw against Spring-Ford during the PIAA Class 6A quarterfinals at Big Spring High School on June 8. (Evan Wheaton – MediaNews Group)

One of the most elite pitchers in Pennsylvania — gunning for the MLB draft in 2024 — the 6-foot-3, 210-pound ace struck out 12 with two hits allowed over 106 pitches.

“He was very much as advertised,” Spring-Ford coach Rick Harrison said. “We went in there with an aggressive approach. We put some good swings on the ball, especially that first inning. But he was very good, he held runners very well. But we got him to his pitch limit and were able to get him out of there. Kudos to my guys, they were able to battle and keep competing.”

Spring-Ford’s Nick Flores (7) celebrates as he heads to the dugout after scoring the tying run to force extra innings against Mt. Lebanon during the PIAA Class 6A quarterfinals at Big Spring High School on June 8. (Evan Wheaton – MediaNews Group)

Down 2-1 with one out before elimination in the bottom of the seventh, a wild pitch advanced Nick Flores to third base before coming home on an error to keep the Rams alive. The Virginia Commonwealth University pledge led off the frame with a double to get himself into position to preserve Spring-Ford’s season a couple innings longer.

Shields came out in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs for the Rams with no one on base, handing mound duties — and Mt. Lebanon’s season — off to Owen Mitchell. Mitchell closed out the game without a hit or strikeout, working around one walk in the ninth.

“This team, after all we’ve been through this year, none of that stuff really phases us,” Shields said on coming out of the game after having it tied back up. “We could be down 10 runs and we can still give it our best shot. We saw them tie the game and instead of getting down on ourselves, we were like, ‘All right, let’s ride. Let’s go.’”

Spring-Ford pitcher Mike deHaan delivers to Mt. Lebanon from the mound during the PIAA Class 6A quarterfinals at Big Spring High School on June 8. (Evan Wheaton – MediaNews Group)
Mt. Lebanon’s Caleb Weidman, right, slides back into first base to avoid being picked off by Spring-Ford’s Brian Korchok, left, during the PIAA Class 6A quarterfinals at Big Spring High School on June 8. (Evan Wheaton – MediaNews Group)

Before Tinnemeyer’s monster knock to break open the game late, he first put his club on the board early. With a runner on second base, Tinnemeyer hit a line drive to center, going up 1-0 in the second inning.

On the day, Tinnemeyer went 2-for-3 with his run and three RBI.

“I was seeing it well at first,” Tinnemeyer said. “I saw the first fastball and it was a little bit of a weird arm angle, but I was ready for another one to come in. I was looking to put something back up the middle, and that’s what I did.”

Spring-Ford tied the game initially in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs at the top of the Rams’ order, David Ruckman unleashed a double to left field, scoring Gage Swanger to equalize the game, 1-1.

It wasn’t until the top of the seventh inning the Blue Devils regained their lead. With the bases loaded, Delaware commit Tanner Donatti hit a sacrifice fly, pulling in the lead man to retake a 2-1 advantage before Flores’ heroics to force extras.

But deHaan kept the damage to one run, keeping in tune with the duel where he struck out five while working around five hits and three walks over eight complete innings.

“These guys never quit. I feel we got every ounce of talent, effort, tension, teamwork and any quality you can get out of a team, I felt like these guys really epitomized that,” Harrison said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win in the ninth inning and got their pitcher out of the game. All things said, it was a great season.”

The high level of Spring-Ford’s program was maintained – the Rams reached the state tournament for the second time in three seasons after reaching the 2021 semifinals – by a group that featured a sizable senior class featuring deHaan, infielders Dylan Broderick, Nick Moyer and Brian Korchok, outfielders Gage Swanger and Jared Leighton, and reserves Andrew Eross, Mitchell Barajas, Jack Baumgardner, Sean Crawford, PJ Pozniak and Jake Reigh.

Not too long ago, it looked like Mt. Lebanon’s season was over before it started. Now, the Blue Devils are two wins away from winning the highest classification’s state title.

“It’s unbelievable. I’m sure you can read it in about every paper about us, we’ve got something about that 0-8 in there every time which, rightfully so,” Shields said. “We always have faith in ourselves, but going into the Final Four now, I don’t think anybody on the team could’ve told you what was going to happen. It’s really awesome.”


Mount Lebanon 5, Spring-Ford 2


Mt. Lebanon010000103582
Mt. Lebanon Spring-Ford
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Donatti 5 0 0 1 Ruckman 4 0 1 1
T. Smith 5 1 2 0 Moyer 3 0 0 0
Delvaux 5 0 1 1 Flores 4 1 1 0
N. Smith 4 0 0 0 Broderick 4 0 0 0
Shields 3 0 0 0 Witmer 2 0 0 0
Stacy 4 1 1 0 Korchok 2 0 0 0
Girod 2 1 1 0 Swanger 3 1 0 0
Tinnemeyer 3 1 2 3 McVey 1 0 0 0
Hamel 3 0 1 0 Leighton 1 0 0 0
Clevenger 1 0 0 0 Cecconi 3 0 0 0
Totals 35 5 8 5 Totals 27 2 2 1

2B — Delvaux, Girod, Flores, Ruckman; HR — Tinnemeyer.

Shields 7.2 2 2 0 1 12
Mitchell 1.1 0 0 0 1 0
deHaan 8 5 2 1 3 5
Wible 0 1 2 2 1 0
Pozniak 1 2 1 1 0 1


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