Pitching, Defense Leads NA Past Butler In WPIAL Semifinals, 5-2
On the strength of a complete-game four-hitter by junior pitcher David Posey, North Allegheny defeated Butler 5-2 in the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals on Tuesday night at Boyce Mayview Park. The triumph over the Tornado sends the Tigers to the WPIAL championship game for the second time in the last three seasons. The Tigers, who already own a league-record eight WPIAL titles, will vie for a ninth district crown next week against reigning champion Mt Lebanon.
Posey’s pitching, and the stellar defense behind him, highlighted an overall sound victory for the Tigers. Butler starter Colin Casteel surrendered only three hits in a complete-game effort, but North Allegheny scratched across five runs against the right hander with the use of some small ball.
In the bottom of the first inning, Harron Lee led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second base by Drew Dougherty. A Spencer Barnett walk put two runners on base and Andrew Hart followed with an RBI single to score Lee, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead. With runners at the corners, a well-executed double steal brought Barnett across the pay station for a 2-0 advantage.
Butler nearly cut into the NA lead in the second inning on a two-out single by Andrew Lucas, but a pin-point throw from left fielder Anthony Varlotta nailed runner Liam McElroy at the plate to keep the score, 2-0, Tigers.
The Golden Tornado did touch the scoreboard for the first and only time in the top of the third inning when Lance Slater clubbed his first home run of the season over the left field fence to tie the game at 2-2.
The decisive inning occurred in the bottom of the fourth for North Allegheny. Hart led off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. An out later, Ian Zahorchak drew a walk and was substituted on the bases by courtesy runner Matthew Parreaguirre. After a double steal by Hart and Parreaguirre put runners at second and third, Varlotta bounced an RBI fielder’s choice ground ball to Lucas at third base. Lucas uncorked a high throw to home plate and over the head of catcher Connor McTighe, allowing a second runner to score and NA held a 4-2 lead. With Varlotta at second base, a passed ball advanced him to third and a walk to Posey placed runners at the corners with still only one out. Sophomore Augie Maslo laid down a beautiful sacrifice squeeze bunt for an RBI, scoring Varlotta, and increasing the Tigers advantage to 5-2.
The three-run lead was more than enough for Posey, who earned his second victory against Butler this season, improving to 4-2 on the year. Posey silenced the Tornado with nine strikeouts and was named the Wright Automotive Player of the Game. Casteel punched out eight batters in a hard-luck loss for the Youngstown State commit.
With the win, North Allegheny leaps to 16-6 on the season, while Butler’s campaign ends with a 12-9 mark. The second-seeded Tigers will take on fifth-seeded Mt. Lebanon next week at Wild Things Park. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network.
Line Score - Baseball vs. Butler - 05/23/2023
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