Tigers Win Joust With Knights in WPIAL Quarterfinals, 3-0

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The North Allegheny baseball team punched its ticket to the WPIAL semifinal round for the fifth time in the last six seasons with a with 3-0 shutout of the Norwin Knights in the WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinals on Monday night at Boyce Mayview Park.

Junior southpaw J.D. Costanzo tossed five innings of one-hit baseball with eight strikeouts to earn the victory and improve to 6-2 on the season. Sophomore reliever Nico Varlotta worked two scoreless innings to complete the shutout. Costanzo was named the Wright Automotive Player of the Game.

As it turned out, North Allegheny got all the offense it needed in the bottom of the third inning when back-to-back RBI singles by seniors Andrew Dougherty and Spencer Barnett gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

NA tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Owen Schall deposited a double down the right field line with one out in the inning. On a deep fly out to centerfield, Schall tagged and advanced to third. When the Norwin defense uncorked an errant throw toward third base and into the Knights’ dugout, Schall scored and the Tigers held a 3-0 lead.

Despite being shutout, Norwin had plenty of base runners thanks in part to six walks, but left nine men on base. In the top of the seventh inning with two outs, back-to-back singles by Keegan Carr and Ryan Mesko brought the potential game-tying run to the plate in the form of Chris Slatt. However, Varlotta buckled down to induce a ground out of Norwin’s No. 3 hitter to end the ballgame and propel the Tigers into the WPIAL semifinals. Second baseman Augie Maslo made an outstanding play on Slatt’s slow ground ball, charging in and darting a perfect throw to first base for the game’s final out.

An additional sterling defensive effort was turned in during the top of the fourth inning. With a Jake Auld at third base and one out, Stephen Rodgers bounced a chopper to first baseman David Posey, who quickly cut down the runner with a throw home to catcher Ian Zahorchak. The alert play by Posey and tag by Zahorchak kept NA’s 2-0 lead intact at that point in the ballgame.

Norwin sophomore pitcher Ethan Culbertson was the hard-luck loser, giving up three runs, just one earned, with three strikeouts in an efficient 59 pitches.

With the win, North Allegheny leaps to 15-6 on the season, while Norwin’s year comes to an end with an 8-8 record. The Tigers will take on section rival Butler on Tuesday night in the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network.

Line Score - Baseball vs. Norwin - 05/22/2023

Score by Innings1234567RHE
North Allegheny002001X371
WP - J.D. Costanzo (6-2) LP - Ethan Culbertson