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Blackhawk's Brendan McKay named Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Baseball Player of the Year

| Saturday, June 21, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Blackhawk's Brendan McKay delivers to the plate against West Allegheny during the second inning of the WPIAL Class AAA championship game Thursday, May 29, 2014, at Consol Energy Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Blackhawk's Brendan McKay delivers to the plate against West Allegheny during the first inning of the WPIAL Class AAA championship game Thursday, May 29, 2014, at Consol Energy Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Blackhawk pitcher Brendan McKay delivers to the plate during a game against Montour on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at Chippewa Park.
Norwin's J.J. Matijevic
Keystone Oaks' Taylor Lehman
Seneca Valley's Connor Coward
Steel Valley's Brandon Donovan
California's Josh Luko
Pine-Richland's Daane Berezo
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Daily News
West Mifflin senior A.J. Olasz
submitted photo
Baldwin's Alex Pantuso


Brendan McKay

Blackhawk, senior, pitcher

Crowds gathered whenever Blackhawk's Brendan McKay pitched, with high school baseball fans and pro scouts eager to see the left-hander with a nationally renowned scoreless streak.

They usually left satisfied. McKay was 8-1 this season with 130 strikeouts in 63 innings and a 0.56 ERA, earning him Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Baseball Player of the Year.

His career record was 30-2.

The senior drew much attention for a scoreless streak of 72 13 consecutive innings that tied the second longest in the National Federation of High School Associations record book. The streak, which included 10 shutouts, started last season and reached this year's WPIAL Class AAA championship game. Blackhawk, the runner-up this year, won the title with McKay in 2012.

McKay had two no-hitters this season and twice struck out 20 batters in games with 21 outs. He batted .425 (23 for 54) with nine extra-base hits and 17 RBIs.

A two-time Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year, McKay was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 34th round but also holds a scholarship from Louisville.

What was your reaction to all of the added attention?

At one time, I had 32 follow requests on Twitter. It was pretty, crazy, but it was pretty cool that people found out about me and wanted to watch me.

Have you heard from the Padres?

I got a package in the mail with a hat and a letter that said they were going to be in contact with me. But I haven't heard anything yet. I have not (worn the hat) yet. It's still sitting in the wrapper next to the package it came in. I might wear it some day.

How much Louisville stuff do you own?

I have one T-shirt. That's it. I didn't buy a lot of stuff because I didn't know if I was going to be drafted high. It would have been a waste. But I'm going to try to buy some (Louisville) stuff now.

So your decision is made?

It's pretty much made. July 7 is when I go to college. We start summer classes, get physicals and all that stuff. I have to make my decision before then.

When you're not pitching, what's your preferred position?

I'm kind of limited to four: First base or the outfield. I say I want to be (a left-handed shortstop) but that's probably not going to happen.

What items will you save from your high school career?

My Gatorade Player of the Year trophies and maybe some of the other trophies. I have a ton of baseballs. I have a drawer full of them. Probably 20-plus. But ones that aren't marked with dates or tournament logos, I throw them in for batting practice.

Why do you wear No. 33?

My freshman year, I wasn't sure if I was even going to make the team. I got last pick (of jersey numbers) and there were only three or four numbers left. I'd worn 3 or 13 before, so I stuck with the 3s.

Where will you be in five years?

Hopefully playing baseball somewhere. In the minor leagues, probably. Maybe even close to the major leagues.

Terrific 10

Daane Berezo

Pine-Richland, Sr., SS

A Virginia Commonwealth recruit, Berezo batted .452 (28 for 62) with 22 runs and 23 RBIs for the Section 4-AAAA title winning Rams, who reached the WPIAL semifinals. Berezo, who had a .603 on-base percentage, struck out only three times in 78 plate appearances.

Connor Coward

Seneca Valley, Sr., P/SS

The right-handed Virginia Tech recruit led the 16th-seeded Raiders to an unexpected WPIAL Class AAAA title. After overcoming a back injury, Coward returned for the playoffs and earned wins in the WPIAL quarterfinals, semifinals and championship, where he struck out 11. His two-year record was 12-1.

Brandon Donovan

Steel Valley, Jr., P/OF

The right-hander was 7-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 47 innings for the WPIAL Class AA champions. He batted .478 with 37 RBIs as the school won its first baseball title. In 21 playoff innings, Donovan struck out 32, walked two and allowed only nine hits. His career record is 13-2.

Taylor Lehman

Keystone Oaks, Sr., P/1B

Drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 34th round, the 6-foot-7 left-hander had a 1.46 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 47.2 innings. Lehman was 5-2 and allowed only 26 hits and 10 earned runs. An eight-inning, 15-strikeout no-hitter was among his wins. The Penn State recruit batted .423 with 15 RBIs.

Josh Luko

California, Sr., P/1B

A Cal (Pa.) recruit, Luko was 10-0 with a 0.83 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 59.1 innings for the WPIAL Class A champion. The right-hander allowed only 34 hits and two walks. He threw two no-hitters and two one-hitters this season. Luko pitched a complete game in the WPIAL final, split over two days.

J.J. Matijevic

Norwin, Sr., SS

A left-handed hitter and Arizona recruit, Matijevic finished the regular season as the WPIAL leader in batting average (.567), home runs (10) and RBIs (37). He was a 22nd-round pick of the Red Sox. In his varsity career, Matijevic had 90 RBIs and 18 home runs in 61 games, with only 11 strikeouts .

A.J. Olasz

West Mifflin, Sr., P/1B

The Cincinnati recruit had 25 RBIs, batted .393 (24 for 61) and led the Titans to the PIAA Class AAA playoffs for the first time in school history. Olasz was 4-0 with a 0.76 ERA, three complete games and 43 strikeouts in 23.2 innings before a shoulder injury limited him to designated hitter.

Alex Pantuso

Baldwin, Sr., P/1B

The Slippery Rock recruit had six home runs and 20 RBIs for the WPIAL Class AAAA runner-up, which won Section 3 and reached the championship game for the first time. On the mound, Pantuso was 5-2 with 75 strikeouts in 52.2 innings. The right-hander's ERA was 2.13.

Tyler Smith

Penn-Trafford, Sr., P/3B

The Canisius recruit ranked among the WPIAL's pitching and hitting leaders. Smith batted .493 (33 for 67) with five home runs, 20 runs and 35 RBIs. On the mound, he was 6-3 with a 1.51 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 51 innings. In one game, Smith had three hits, a homer, five RBIs and struck out 10 to earn the win.

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