Blackhawk holds on to capture 2nd WPIAL title
By Dan Stefano
Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012, 9:00 p.m.
In a span of about 15 minutes, Brendan McKay went from bidding for a perfect game to needing the perfect play.
After retiring the first 17 Belle Vernon batters he faced in the WPIAL Class AAA baseball championship Thursday at Consol Energy Park, Blackhawk's sophomore ace loaded the bases on two walks and a hit while his Cougars clung to a 1-0 lead with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
Time for a conference.
“Pretty much everyone in the infield, they talked to me, calmed me down,” McKay said. “They were just saying if it comes to the infielders, throw it home, and we'll go from there.”
Not a bad plan.
Following the meeting, McKay fielded a lightly hit ball by Matt Callaway in front of the mound and tossed the ball to catcher Matt Emge for the force out at home before Emge threw a dart to first base to complete the 1-2-3 double play and clinch Blackhawk's second title.
“I was proud of Matt Emge because he had a rough day at the plate,” Blackhawk coach Bob Amalia said of his Ohio State-bound backstop, who went 0 for 4. “He's playing 90 percent, if that, because he has a bad ankle. ... I can't say enough. He threw a laser, and there's not many high school catchers that can catch the ball and gun the guy out like that.”
The throw preserved Blackhawk's third 1-0 win in a row. Second baseman Joe Lopez's fourth-inning single to right-center drove home Tyler Craig for the lone run in a game that included the Cougars (21-2) stranding seven runners.
“I think we'll break out and hit the ball,” said Amalia, whose team has a bye in the first round of the state playoffs next week. “We needed that one big hit. Sometimes I worry about our kids being so used to the pitchers going out and throwing zeroes on the board, and they aren't focused in.”
McKay, who had success locating his fastball to go with his typically solid breaking ball, fanned 11 in the final and finished with a two-hitter.
“I was getting there,” McKay said. “I was sweating a little bit, my nerves were pumping and I was a little anxious.”
In the end, Belle Vernon coach Dan Palm said McKay was “the best pitcher we've seen all year.” But the Leopards (18-5) received a strong start from their sophomore pitcher, Dylan Pietratoni, who yielded six hits and stymied some of the Cougars' top hitters.
“That's a good team. For him to hold them to one run, that's good in itself,” said Palm, whose Leopards meet District 6 Punxsutawney in Monday's first round. “And you know what? For them to win a championship, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, every playoff game is incredible.”
Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-5697.
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.
- Steelers bring back long snapper Warren, lineman Wallace
- Allegheny Co. DA criticizes Peduto administration over info released in E. Liberty murder case
- Orpik rises to occasion as Penguins take down Capitals once again
- Panthers free agent safety headed to Steelers
- Philadelphia senator accused of using state employees for campaign
- Penguins notebook: Letang skating, but no return set
- Pitt assistant professor wins $10K poetry award
- Superior Court suspends bail decision for man accused of setting fatal fire
- Fayette jury sentences man to death for fatal beating of 4-year-old boy
- Kittanning’s new meter attendant alert to red flags
- Hotline tip leads to arrests in Kittanning