Notes, quotes and anecdotes from the high school scene
The weather forecast has the start of WPIAL baseball playoffs up in the air today. But that's not the only uncertain thing with Blackhawk coach Bob Amalia.
Blackhawk is the No. 1 seed for the WPIAL Class AAA bracket and will play No. 16 seed Uniontown tonight (7 p.m.) at the Burkett Complex in Robinson. Amalia can't decide whether to use ace pitcher Brendan McKay, or take a chance and save him for the quarterfinals Thursday.
"I keep going back and forth," Amalia said last night. "I probably won't decide until [today]."
McKay hasn't allowed a run this year and is on a 58-inning scoreless streak dating back to last season. It is the fourth-longest streak in U.S. high school baseball history.
The opinion here is to save McKay for the quarterfinals Wednesday. If your No. 2 pitcher can't beat the No. 16 seed, then you really aren't a championship-caliber team. With a win tonight, Blackhawk will play the winner of Mars and Indiana (the 8-9 game). Wouldn't you rather have your No. 2 pitcher throw against the No. 16 seed and not the No. 8 or 9?
Blackhawk's No. 2 pitcher is Dante Parente, who is certainly capable of beating Uniontown. Amalia did say if McKay doesn't start tonight and the game is on the line late, "there is no doubt we're using him."
If Blackhawk gets past the first round without using McKay, it spells doom for the rest of Class AAA. The way the WPIAL schedules its playoffs, McKay can then pitch the quarterfinals, semifinals and the championship with plenty of rest. Plenty of people feel it's ridiculous that one pitcher can pitch those three games. The WPIAL has heard those complaints but the WPIAL baseball committee has made its stand already. They think it's fine for one pitcher to be able to pitch three games in a row. So be it.
But even with McKay pitching, Blackhawk could still have its hands full at some point. This is a team that was shut out against Montour and scored only one run last week against West Allegheny. McKay didn't pitcher either of those games and Blackhawk lost. There is no WPIAL pitcher on McKay's level, but that doesn't mean another talented pitcher can't shut down Blackhawk. A scoreless game and a break with a couple hits off McKay and suddenly Blackhawk is behind? It might not happen, but there is no such thing as an unbeatable pitcher in baseball. Though McKay is about as close as you can get.
Baseball all-stars selected
The 11th annual WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Games will be played June 8 in Butler. The rosters of the teams are at the end of this blog.
Son of Fedko shines
Christian Fedko is the son of well-known local sportscaster John Fedko. But Christian is doing absolutely fine making a name for himself.
Christian is only a freshman, but is making quite an impact on the Vincentian baseball team. In one five-game stretch, he was in "the Fedko zone" when he hit .737 (14 for 19). For the season, he is batting .552 (32 of 58) for the Royals (16-2) who begin the WPIAL playoffs today at 2 against Union.
Coach comments on Jenkins
Baldwin offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins made his college choice last week, picking Penn State. Jenkins is one of the most-heavily recruited players in the state and Ohio State was his other choice.
Although Jenkins (pictured) is highly-rated (Rivals.com's No. 34 player in the country), he didn't make the coaches all-conference team last year. Jenkins said he has a lot to prove this upcoming season and making all-conference is one of his goals.
Baldwin coach Pete Wagner praised Jenkins (6 feet 8, 315 pounds) for what he has done this offseason so far.
"I think the sky is the limit for him," Wagner said. "He's someone who is extremely loyal and his work ethic has been outstanding. He's committed to improvement and with his body, his potential is limitless.
"He's hit a home run this offseason and has balanced recruiting in. He hasn't missed a workout and he is doing everything in between. My hat is off to him and what he is putting into this."
Below are the 84 players selected to the WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Games Sunday June 8 at the Kelly Automotive Park in Butler (old Pullman Park). The Class A All-Stars will take on Class AA at 1 p.m., and Class AAA will play Class AAAA at 4 p.m.
There will be a banquet to honor players and coaches June 5 at the Southpointe Hilton Garden. The banquet is open to the public. For information, call 412-429-0546.
CLASS AAAA - Zack Bahm, Mt. Lebanon; Daane Berezo, Pine-Richland; Joey DeFloria, Hempfield; Dom Farina, Norwin; Luca Farina, Central Catholic; Mitch Machi, North Allegheny; J.J. Matijevic, Norwin; Tom McCarthy, Baldwin; Chad Meyer, North Hills; Mark Merlino, Penn-Trafford; Alex Pantuso, Baldwin; Teagan Piechnick, Canon-McMillan; Phil Pisarcik, Peters Township; Mason Prickett, Moon; Trey Reese, Penn Hills; Tyler Saundry, North Allegheny; Tyler Schmidt, Peters Township; Ryan Sciullo, Kiski Area; Tyler Smith, Penn-Trafford; Nick Stotler, Plum; Tyler Tubbs, Hempfield.
CLASS AAA - Jake Benack, Thomas Jefferson; Ryan Creps, Indiana; Drew DeBerry, Laurel Highlands; Eddie Edwards, Hampton; Jake Emge, Blackhawk; Kevin Gannon, Mars; Tyler Godwin, South Fayette; Zach Junk, Knoch; Josh Lapiana, Chartiers Valley; Taylor Lehman, Keystone Oaks; Parker Lynn, Belle Vernon; Brendan McKay, Blackhawk; A.J. Olasz, West Mifflin; Cody Overly, Yough; Brian Penz, Montour; Dylan Pietrantoni, Belle Vernon; Grant Smith, Ambridge; Zack Staschick, Uniontown; Sean Thompson, Indiana; Caleb Thorn, Knoch; Ben Vey, Hampton.
CLASS AA - Davie Boehme, Seton-LaSalle; Ernie Burkes, Neshannock; Todd Coleman, Deer Lakes; Tyler Day, Chartiers-Houston; Matt Hoesch, Steel Valley; Seth Hvizda, Beth-Center; Nolan Lamont, South Side Beaver; Ross Maietta, Riverside; Brent McCormick, Shenango; Ryan Novotney, Brownsville; Matt Olesnevich, Deer Lakes; Jason Pettner, Riverside; Jordan Ranson, Beaver Falls; Chuckie Scales, Shady Side Academy; Noah Shannon, Freeport; R.J. Stewart, Laurel; Matt Swartz, Freeport; Ben Utterback, Quaker Valley; Matt Wilke, Seton-LaSalle; Michael Wise, Jeannette; Jordan Yates, Beaver.
CLASS A - Jason Anthony, Riverview; Ron Baron, California; Dan Bechek, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart; Logan Bowman, Jefferson-Morgan; Tracy Bozich, Western Beaver; Brandon Coddington, Serra; Ty Cole, Carmichaels; Jake Columbus, California; Dom Conte, Riverview; Alex Demonte, Springfield; Tim Frayser, Avella; Nick Kocent, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart; Brandon Lawless, Carmichaels; Joey Luciana, St. Joseph's; Josh Luko, California; Phil Madonna, Vincentian; Steve Menich, Western Beaver; John O'Donnell, Bishop Canevin; Justice Rawlins, Monessen; Travis Sanner, Frazier; Sam Thimons, St. Joseph.