North Allegheny advances to 1st title game since 2006
With storm clouds approaching, North Allegheny coach Rick Meister just wanted a tie before the rain reached Fairhaven Park.
“If we got washed out, I didn't want to go home behind,” he said. “That's not a good night's sleep.”
Instead, his Tigers opened the flood gates. A two-run double by sophomore Laura Cotter sparked a five-run sixth inning Wednesday that earned North Allegheny a 7-4 semifinal victory over Peters Township in the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.
The rally included a string of seven hits separated only by a sacrifice bunt. It stole momentum away from No. 7 Peters Township (18-5), which had just taken its first lead with three runs a half-inning earlier.
“They bounced back pretty quick,” Peters Township coach Bob Bowers said.
This was the second consecutive round that No. 3 North Allegheny answered an opponent's rally with its own. A similar scenario helped beat McKeesport.
“That's been one of our characteristics,” Meister said. “We've been down and we come back. ... It's not something magic, it's not a formula, I think it's just the spirit of these kids who know they're not defeated until somebody gets 21 outs.”
The rain held off, so all seven innings were completed.
North Allegheny (17-4), which owns three WPIAL titles, returns to the championship for the first time since 2006.
The other semifinal, between Canon-McMillan and Hempfield, was postponed.
“This means the world to us,” Cotter said. “People think we're underdogs because we're a really young team and have only two seniors. ... But we're all excited for this.”
NA starter Sami Beining and Peters Township's Kellyn Perich both escaped bases-loaded situations in the first inning without allowing a run.
Beining allowed eight hits, no walks and struck out five. Perich, who was replaced in the sixth, allowed seven hits, two walks and struck out four.
A bases-clearing double in the fifth by Peters Township's Lindsay McKnight had given the Indians a 3-2 lead, scoring Hannah Berardino, Emily Lusk and Perich.
But the lead didn't last. A leadoff single by Rachel Pecanis started NA's sixth-inning rally. Anna Sardon followed with a bunt single while trying to sacrifice.
With runners on first and second and still no outs, Meister had his next batter, freshman Liz Scherer, advance the runners with another sacrifice bunt.
“I was looking at the sky and I was playing for the tie,” Meister said. “I wanted to get that one run.”
Consecutive run-scoring doubles by Cotter, Logann Woodley and Christine Scherer changed that strategy. An RBI single by Bonnie Pierson completed the five-run rally.