Tigers Trip Up Trojans In PIAA First Round, 11-5
Facing the District 10 champion McDowell Trojans in the postseason for the third time in the last five seasons, the North Allegheny baseball team earned an 11-5 victory in the opening round of the PIAA Class 6A playoffs. The Tigers’ lineup put up crooked numbers in the fifth and seventh innings to advance to the state quarterfinals where they’ll face District 3 champion Cedar Cliff on Thursday.
In 2018 and 2019, the Tigers earned PIAA first round victories over the Trojans. On Monday afternoon at Mercyhurst University, North Allegheny once again defeated McDowell on a day where every player in the NA lineup gave rise to a productive at bat. Exemplary of the Tigers success was senior leadoff man Harron Lee, who went 2-for-3 with a double, two walks, three RBI’s and two runs scored. The Harvard commit was named the Wright Automotive Player of the game.
The Tigers started the scoring in the top of the first inning and began the game with a leadoff double by Lee. Later in the inning, a bases loaded walk by senior Ian Zahorchak brought home Lee for a 1-0 lead.
McDowell tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the third on a North Allegheny throwing error, but regained the lead quickly in the top of the fourth. Junior David Posey led off the fourth with a double, and his courtesy runner Sean O’Donnell scored later in the frame thanks to an RBI groundout by Lee and the Tigers led, 2-1.
Thanks to a four-run fifth inning, North Allegheny started to take command of the game. Junior Owen Schall plated one run with a successful squeeze bunt and Andrew Hart scored another on a wild pitch, to increase the lead to 4-1. Senior Anthony Varlotta drove in Schall with an RBI single for a 5-1 advantage. Anthony Varlotta scored on an error later in the inning to grow the lead to 6-1, Tigers.
With a knack for late-game comebacks this season, McDowell started to chip away with an RBI groundout by Carter Swanson in the fifth inning, and Jake Banks scored on a passed ball in the sixth, trimming the NA lead to 6-3.
The Tigers doused any comeback hopes for the Trojans, however, in the top of the seventh with a five-run frame. The big inning included a two-run double by Lee, a sacrifice fly RBI by Drew Dougherty, an RBI double from Spencer Barnett and an RBI single courtesy of Schall. Schall ended the day with a 2-for-3 outing with two RBI’s and a run scored.
With NA leading 11-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh, McDowell refused to go away quietly and cut the score to 11-5 on an RBI single from Connor Cross and a bases loaded walk for an RBI by Nick Hamilton. The effort was too little, too late for the Trojans as reliever Nico Varlotta induced a flyout of Brady Kramer to end the ballgame and the Tigers prevailed, 11-5.
Nico Varlotta went two innings of relief for NA and Posey, who started game, earned the victory with five strong innings and eight strikeouts. McDowell’s Nick Hamilton, who pitched a no-hitter in the PIAA subregional game against State College, suffered the loss and surrendered three runs in four innings on the bump.
North Allegheny improves to 17-7 on the season and will take on Cedar Cliff in the PIAA quarterfinals on Thursday at a site and time to be determined. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network. McDowell’s season comes to a close with a 15-7 record.
Line Score - Baseball vs. McDowell - 06/05/2023
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