Pitching depth strong as North Allegheny aims to defend title
It's good for a coach to have options.
Andy Haddix, North Allegheny's baseball coach, justifiably could pick any of his pitchers to start when the Tigers defend their AAAA WPIAL title in the playoffs.
Senior Mitch Machi, the starting pitcher in their championship win last June, logged 28 innings with a 1.75 ERA during the regular season, tops out at 91 miles per hour and has three off-speed pitches in his repertoire.
However, Machi also had a poor outing in his last regular-season start. He threw 40 pitches in one and two-third innings and gave up five runs, four of them earned, in an 8-6 loss to North Hills.
“They came out swinging and did what they're supposed to do and hit well,” Machi, 18, of Franklin Park said. “My team did a very good job behind me, and I had some mental errors. I was trying to do it all myself, but I have to trust them more and let them make the plays.”
Haddix, 43, of Scott Township said the outing was a good learning experience for Machi.
“There's days you don't have your best stuff,” Haddix said. “He's had great outings for us for the most part, and you just tell him it's a part of baseball. It wasn't all on him. We should have made some plays behind him. We have a lot of confidence him, definitely.”
Defense also is paramount to a team's success in the playoffs. In each of the last three AAAA WPIAL championship games, the team that committed more errors lost.
Senior Tyler Saundry has earned four saves as North Allegheny's closer during the regular season and said he hopes team defense will help him build on that total. He pitched 23 regular-season innings with a 1.21 ERA.
“Growing up, I was a pitch-to-contact guy,” said Saundry, 18, of Marshall Township. “As I've gotten older, I've thrown harder, but I come right at you.I want them to beat me. I won't pitch around anyone.”
Senior Jason Monper threw 14.33 regular-season innings with a 0.48 ERA after an impressive junior campaign that included nine scoreless innings in the Tigers' final game last year.
The Tigers also have a plethora of strong young arms at Haddix's disposal. Juniors Blaise Smiley and Nick Gross have combined for 20 regular-season innings pitched and a 1.75 ERA.
Sophomores Jake Fischbaugh, Trevor Smith and Jon Dignazio have combined for 39 innings pitched and a 1.61 ERA.
The left-handed Dignazio, 16, of Marshall, came back from a November injury to his left ankle to pitch for the Tigers.
Despite a tough start at the beginning of the season, the Tigers tied with Butler for the Section 1-AAAA title. Jon Dignazio was the winning starting pitcher for the game against Butler that resulted in the tie, and Saundry was the closer.
“I'm very excited to hopefully make a good run,” Dignazio said about the playoffs. “As a pitcher, the (pitching) coach (Todd Schiffhauer) tries make calls to use the infield and use weaknesses against the batter. Usually, it works well, and that's how we've been successful.”
Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hartwood Acres gift shop expands
- Pine OKs old Wexford Fire Hall business plan
- Shaler promotes 1 police officer, hires another
- Hampton School District changing formula for class rankings
- McCandless garden receives ‘certified wildlife habitat’ designation
- Hampton turning lane work halts access to Route 8 from Duncan Avenue
- Ride for Ryan to raise funds for beating victim in minimally conscious state