West Mifflin's Olasz no-hits South Park
A lot of times, A.J. Olasz's reputation precedes him.
When it came to West Mifflin's Section 4-AAA showdown for first place against South Park on Wednesday, there's no denying that is exactly what happened.
That didn't prevent the hard-throwing left-hander from bolstering said reputation. Olasz was unhittable — literally.
He didn't allow a hit, struck out seven and was a first-inning walk away from a perfect game, and Ryan Kandsberger went 4 for 4 with five RBIs as West Mifflin (5-2, 2-1) took over first place in the section with a 12-0, five-inning win over defending Class AAA champs South Park (3-3, 1-1). It was the first time South Park has been 10-runned in 38 games and only the Eagles' sixth loss in 39 games dating to 2012.
“A no-hitter against anybody means a lot but especially against this team,” Olasz said. “It definitely added a little something extra being South Park.”
Olasz improved to 3-0 and lowered his ERA to 0.38. Olasz, a Cincinnati recruit, has allowed three hits in 18 innings while striking out 32.
“Now that was an easy game to coach when he pitches like that,” West Mifflin coach Jeff Smith said. “He was outstanding. He had command of everything, and that was nice to see. The one walk was the most impressive thing he did.”
Olasz, who hadn't pitched in 10 days, allowed only that first-inning walk and that came after a 0-2 count. He came into the game with 11 walks in 13 innings.
“The time off actually makes me a little weaker,” Olasz said. “I think about it too much. I am sitting there for 10 days, and I am thinking if my arm is OK, and it gets in your mind.”
Olasz got in the mind of coach Steve Bucci even before the game.
With his top two pitchers available in Anthony Winkler and Brian Yoest, Bucci decided to go with Travis Thomas followed by freshmen Zack Panian and Adam Morris, with the thought that his team had six section games in a span of eight days.
“He is a very hard kid to hit at this level,” Smith said. “You can't blame anybody for doing that. You are going to have to hold the opponent to zero, one or two runs if you want to win the game against him.”
Greg Pantuso's third-inning fly out to left field was the only ball that left the infield against Olasz.
“We stunk, and it didn't matter who we had on the hill,” Bucci said. “Show me a game where you get zero hits and win.”
West Mifflin got all of the offense it needed in the first inning.
A catcher's interference, followed by three walks, an RBI infield single by Kevin Dulak and a run-scoring fielder's choice by Jake Liposky, staked West Mifflin to a 4-0 lead.
The only drama left was if Olasz could finish off his no-hitter, and did so with some extra force in the last inning by striking out the first two before getting Brad Collas to ground out.
“I was a little mad there because I thought I struck out the first guy,” Olasz said. “But really, I didn't pay attention most of the game about how many hits I've given up. I just let it go and try to pitch the game.”