NA Advances to PIAA Championship With 3-1 Win Over Spring Ford

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Photo Gallery by Megan Manesiotis

The North Allegheny baseball team punched its ticket to the PIAA championship game for the first time in 21 years with a 3-1 victory over the Spring-Ford Rams in the PIAA Class 6A semifinals on Monday.

On a sun-splashed afternoon at Peoples Bank Park in York, PA, the Tigers were making their 10th appearance in the state semifinals and facing Spring-Ford for the first time in program history. The Rams were appearing in the PIAA semifinals for the first time since 2014 and the fifth time overall.

After a scoreless first inning, Spring-Ford struck for the game’s first run when Winthrop commit Dylan Ducharme hit a solo home run to left-centerfield in the top of the second for a 1-0 lead. The long ball by Ducharme was his second of the year. His first was a walk-off grand slam in the District 1 play-back round that propelled the Rams to a fifth-place finish and a berth in the PIAA playoffs.

Despite the quick jolt by Ducharme, North Allegheny was unfazed and responded in the bottom of the third inning. Junior Erik Sundgren led off the inning with a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. After Spring-Ford starter Jackson Malouf walked Ethan Gavlik, senior Logan Andreyko belted a double to left field to score Sundgren and the game was tied, 1-1. An out later, senior Danny Gallon came through with what proved to be the game-winning base hit, providing a two-run single to centerfield for a 3-1 lead. Gallon reached base three times on the day and went 2-for-2 with two RBI.

North Allegheny starting pitcher Brady Palmer held Spring-Ford in check most of the afternoon, and after the Ducharme home run in the second, Palmer allowed only one hit in the middle innings before running into some trouble in the sixth inning. A one-out walk by Griffin Straface and back-to-back singles from Jarrett Gordon and Jake Books loaded the bases for the Rams. NA turned to Kyle Demi out of the bullpen to face Spring-Ford cleanup hitter, Ayden McNelly, to wiggle out of the bases loaded jam. McNelly hit a sharp line drive to first base that was snared by Gallon, who quickly stepped on first base for an inning-ending double play and the Rams’ threat was thwarted.

The Tigers maintained their two-run lead the rest of the way as Demi struck out a pair of batters in the seventh inning for his first save of the season and North Allegheny closed out a 3-1 triumph.

Palmer earned the win to improve to 7-0 on the season, hurling 5.1 innings with only one run allowed. The NA right-hander permitted six hits and one walk, while striking out three batters. With the efficient pitching of Palmer and the clutch hitting and defense of Gallon, the NA duo shared Wright Automotive Player of the Game honors for their critical contributions in the PIAA semifinal round victory.

With the win, North Allegheny improves to 23-3 and advances to the PIAA championship game for the first time since 2000. The 23 wins is the most in a single-season since the 2009 Tigers finished with a 23-3 record. Spring-Ford concludes the year with a 21-4 record.

The Tigers will take on the LaSalle College Explorers on Friday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on the campus of Penn State University at 4:30 p.m. As always, the game will be broadcast live via the internet by the North Allegheny Sports Network.

Box Score - Baseball vs. Spring-Ford - 06/14/2021

Score by Innings1234567RHE
North Allegheny003000X350
WP - Brady Palmer (7-0) LP - Jackson Malouf (4-2) SV - Kyle Demi (1)