Emge, McKay provide battery power for top-ranked Blackhawk
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Sophomore pitcher Brendan McKay, already an all-state honoree, has it in him to be an all-time great at Blackhawk. And it shouldn't be a surprise that time spent with one of the successful program's best-ever catchers — Matt Emge — is helping to build that résumé.
There might not be a better battery in Class AAA. Certainly not many with more power.
“Both those guys are really hitting the crap out of the ball,” longtime Cougars coach Bob Amalia said.
Pacing No. 1 Blackhawk's 10-1 start, the standouts are each batting better than .500. Emge, an Ohio State-bound senior, is showing special power, hitting .583 with 21 RBI, three doubles, a triple and two home runs.
That's not what catches his coach's eye, though.
“As good of a hitter he is, I still think he's better defensively,” Amalia said. “He throws batters out. He's not fast, but he's quick; he blocks everything, frames well, has great leadership qualities.
“He talks to the pitchers. Brendan will be the first one to tell you it's a big help having him behind there.”
Indeed, Emge played a role in helping McKay to a fantastic freshman season. The 6-foot-1 lefty, who also plays at first base, was 6-0 last year with a 0.88 earned-run average and 57 strikeouts in 48 innings. He also batted .480 with 20 RBI in helping the Cougars to a third consecutive Section 1 championship.
“(Emge) has helped me have confidence in my pitches,” McKay said. “He's a great kid and knows how to talk you through situations.”
This season, McKay is adding a changeup to his repertoire and has yet to allow an earned run.
“It's a fun time for me catching when he's on the mound,” Emge said. “He's got really great stuff. Even at the plate, with him batting right in front of me, I get to watch him. We're batting three and four, same as last year.”
McKay has yielded just two runs this spring, both coming in Blackhawk's 2-0 loss Monday to section rival Hopewell. The defeat dropped the Cougars into a first-place tie with the Vikings and Beaver at 5-1.
“Baseball is funny. We hit the ball hard, and we hit it right at them,” said Amalia, whose team rebounded to defeat Moon, 11-3, on Wednesday and is hosting Beaver today.
“This is one tough section, and you've got to be ready to play,”
Fortunately for the Cougars, talent is laced through the lineup — and it's not limited to Emge and McKay.
Amalia calls consistent senior shortstop Tyler Craig “one of the best I've had in 13 years,” and junior outfielder Cole Chiappiale and senior outfielder Brandon Mansell are each batting well over .300.
Complementing McKay on the mound, senior pitcher Adam Rousseau is 4-0.
“(Emge and McKay) get a lot of credit, but we've got a lot of other good players out there,” Amalia said. “We couldn't be 10-1 without those guys.”
Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com 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.
- Penn State struggles against Big Ten’s worst defense in loss to Illinois
- Police investigating shooting outside of Monessen bar
- Freezing rain hits Western Pennsylvania, many accidents reported
- Man faces multiple charges after chase in Uniontown
- Duquesne gets better of Robert Morris again
- Robert Morris falls to physical Georgetown
- Freezing rain sets off accidents
- Tire comes off, hits oncoming car, kills 1 on Route 28
- Butler police seek help over shots fired into home
- Steelers’ Wheaton embraces expanding role
- Architect picked to examine Fayette County jail