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Serra freshman pitcher excels ..... Pitt recruit Rowan gets honor .... 'Canes at PNC

Written by Mike White on .

A young kid named Cole is making waves as a pitcher.

But this time, we're not talking about the Pirates' Gerrit Cole. The subject is Serra Catholic Cole McCombs, who is making quite the impact as a freshman.

Cole has a 3-1 record. While that's impressive for a ninth-grader, his other statistics jump out at you. McCombs has pitched 24 1/3 innings and his ERA is 0.00. He has allowed only one run, but it was unearned.

Cole has given up only five hits and has 43 strikeouts. Get used to the name. You'll probably be hearing it a lot in the next few years.

Rowan an All-American

Lincoln Park basketball player Ron Rowan is one of the top 10 sophomores in the country. At least that's what Maxpreps.com says.

Rowan has been selected a second-team sophomore All-American by Maxpreps. The first- and second-teams include only 10 players.

Rowan is a Pitt recruit, accepting a scholarship from the Panthers last summer. He averaged 26 points a game this season and has 1,482 career point already.

New Castle honored at PNC

The undefeated New Castle boys basketball team was honored on the field before last night's Pirates game at PNC Park. The Red Hurricanes are the first WPIAL boys team go through a season undefeated in 31 years.

Below is a crazy bird in the midst of Red Hurricanes.

New Castle and Parrot

Besides the team being honored, New Castle coach Ralph Blundo threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Well, actually he wasn't the only one who threw out a first pitch. Mike Tyson followed Blundo and threw out another first pitch.

Below, champ meets champ. It's coach Blundo in the dugout before the game with Iron Mike

Blundo and Mike Tyson

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McKay's streak continues ...... Matijevic's streak comes to an end

Written by Mike White on .

Blackhawk's Brendan McKay came into today with a pitching streak for the ages. Norwin's J.J. Matijevic had an unforgettable hitting streak.

Only one of the streaks continued.

Brendan McKayMcKay (pictured), a senior left-hander, shut out Central Valley, 8-0, and stretched his scoreless innings streak to 44 innings, dating back to last season. Eight more shutout innings will put him in the top 10 all-time nationally, according to the National Federation of State High School Association.

On top of the shutout, McKay struck out 20 batters. In covering more than three decades of baseball in the WPIAL, I don't think I've ever heard of anyone striking out 20 batters in a seven-inning game in the Pittsburgh area. But guess what? It is the second time McKay had 20 strikeouts this year.

While McKay's scoreless streak stayed alive, Matijevic's streak came to an end when he went 0 for 3 in a 2-1 loss to Hempfield. Matijevic had hit a home run in six consecutive games, a feat also unheard of around the WPIAL.

You knew Matijevic's streak had to end soon, didn't you? That is awful tough to keep hitting home runs. He also had 10 consecutive hits. A shoutout to him for an incredible feat, putting the two streaks together.

As for McKay? Heck, who knows when that scoreless streak will end. He is now 25-1 for his career but his statistics this season are surreal. He has pitched 20 innings and has 49 strikeouts. Are you serious? Girls softball pitchers don't do that and that sport is so pitcher-dominated. McKay gave up four hits and struck out two. He has allowed five hits in 20 innings. Today's effort came after he pitched a no-hitter last week against West Allegheny, despite McKay maybe not being at his best.

"I thought he was a little better today," said Blackhawk coach Bob Amalia. "His curveball was better and I think he had a little more pop on his fastball. I thought he was sharper."

Amalia thought McKay was throwing maybe 87-88 mph. He was clocked in the low 90s last month while pitching in Arizona. Several major-league scouts were on hand again today.

"His curveball must have impressed because some of those scouts left some packages from their teams in the dugout for him," said Amalia.

"I can throw harder, but it's still pretty cold," McKay said.

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Canon-McMillan's Piechnick had 10-hit streak ..... other notes

Written by Mike White on .

Some items that fell off my laptop.

Streaking has become popular in WPIAL baseball this spring, and nobody has taken off their clothes.

This blog has documented impressive streaks of Blackhawk's Brendan McKay and Norwin's J.J. Matijevic. McKay hasn't allowed a run in 37 innings dating back to last season. Matijevic has hit a home run in six consecutive games and is riding a string of 10 consecutive hits.

Add Canon-McMillan's Teagan Piechnick to those who have had a memorable streak. Piechnick, a senior center fielder, also had a streak of 10 consecutive hits. He had 16 plate appearances in the streak that included six walks, which meant he reached base 16 consecutive times. The streak ended Monday with a flyout against Peters Township.

During the streak, Piechnick had four home runs, three doubles and three singles. He had 12 runs and 10 RBIs during the streak.

For the season, he is batting .633 (19 of 30) with an on-base percentage of .744. He has six home runs and 17 RBIs. He has helped Canon-McMillan to a 7-2 record.

***** Weather-wise, this is starting to look like a bad year for spring sports. Baseball and softball teams are starting to get behind in games played. This is only year after this area had one of the best springs for sports. There were very few bad weather days last year.

***** It was interesting to see one of the MVPs in Saturday's Roundball Classic all-star basketball games. It was Elijah Cottrill of Beaver Falls. He got the MVP for the Class AA team.

Elijah CottrillCottrill didn't play for Beaver Falls from mid-January on - because of a knee injury. Cottrill also missed most of football season because of an injury to the same knee.

The Roundball was Cottrill's first game since he sustained the injury. Cottrill was considered a Division I college prospect and made the Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 as a junior. Creighton offered him a scholarship during his junior year. He accepted a football scholarship from Akron last summer, but the two eventually parted ways.

Cottrill (pictured) might still have Division I basketball in the future, but only after a year or two. Academic issues will force him to either a prep school or a junior college. There is a chance he might attend Polk, a junior college in Florida. Polk is coached by former Robert Morris coach Matt Furjanic. Former Beaver Falls star Sheldon Jeter is attending Polk this school year, but not playing basketball. Jeter played as a freshman at Vanderbilt, left after one year and will play for Pitt next year. 

Lance Jeter is another Beaver Falls player who played at Polk before signing and playing at the University of Nebraska.

***** Will former Plum star Nolan Cressler be the next WPIAL player who wasn't heavily recruited in high school but makes a name for himself at the big-time college level? Cressler played at Cornell of the Ivy League the past two seasons before deciding to leave the team after this school year. He accepted a scholarship from Vanderbilt last night.

Notre Dame, Dayton and Rutgers also had offered scholarships and a number of other teams were interested in him. Plum coach Ron Richards said Michigan might have offered a scholarship any day. All of those big-time schools don't show interest or offer a scholarship to a marginal player.

A few former WPIAL/City League players did very well this season after transfers. Chartiers Valley's T.J. McConnell transferred from Duquesne to Arizona, and Schenley's DeAndre Kane transferred from Marshall to Iowa State.

Cressler is a shooting guard who led Cornell in scoring this past season at 16 points a game. This should tell you how much Vanderbilt wanted Cressler: After Cressler got his release from Cornell, Vanderbilt's entire staff flew to Cornell to meet with him.

 

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Norwin's Matijevic hits home run in sixth-consecutive game

Written by Mike White on .

J.J. Matijevic's home-run streak got a little more ridiculous today.

Oh yeah. His consecutive hit streak also reached double figures.

Matijevic, a 6-foot senior shortstop, is on a streak for the ages, and that's not an overstatement. Matijevic hit a home run today in an 11-5 victory against previously undefeated Penn-Trafford. It was the sixth consecutive game Arizona logothat Matijevic has hit a home run. Matijevic is a University of Arizona recruit.

According to the National Federation of State High School Association's record book, Matijevic's home-run streak now ties for the 12th-longest ever in the country. Two other players hit home runs in six consecutive games. Four hit in seven-consecutive games, one in eight and five in nine. The record for consecutive games with a home run is 10 by Ethan Bennett of Knoxville, Tenn., in 2010.

Norwin is 6-1. Matijevic did not hit a home run in the opener, but has hit at least one in six games since. He had two against North Allegheny. For the season, he has seven home runs and a whopping 25 RBIs in only seven games.

Now about the consecutive hits streak. Matijevic was 2 for 2 today against Penn-Trafford. That means he has a hit in 10 consecutive at-bats (not plate apperances, but at-bats. He has some walks). Besides his homer today, he had a two-run double and walked with the bases loaded.

No one has WPIAL home-run records. But I will say that I have been covering WPIAL baseball for more than 30 years and I have never heard of a WPIAL player having this kind of home-run streak. I have heard of similar consecutive-hit streaks. But when you put both of Matijevic's streaks together, it is really incredible.

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Shaler's Schwartz runs the two fastest times in WPIAL history

Written by Mike White on .

It's only the second week of April. It makes you wonder what Brianna Schwartz will be running a month from now at the WPIAL track championships.

Brianna SchwartzSchwartz is a junior at Shaler Area High School who already had established herself as one of the best distance runners in WPIAL history. She had yet to run in a big invitational this spring, until last night at the Butler Invitational. All she did was run the fastest times in WPIAL history in two events.

Schwartz ran the 800 meters in 2 minutes, 10.15 seconds. It bettered the mark of 2:10.31, set by North Allegheny's Kelly Langhans in 2007. 

Schwartz also ran the 1,600 in 4:45.43. She already had owned the best 1,600 time in WPIAL history of 4:47.07. She ran that mark in last year's WPIAL championships, bettering the long-standing WPIAL best of 4:51.07, set by Carole Zajac in 1990.

Schwartz had already run the second-best 800 time in WPIAL history last year with a time of 2:10.38.

Schwartz's 800 time at the Butler Invitational is the eighth-best in the country this season. Her 1,600 time would be the second-best in the country, but she already ran a 4:42.58 in the indoor season, which is the second-best in the country this year (indoor or outdoors).

Schwartz has already won WPIAL championships in track and cross country. Last year, she also became the first sophomore to win a PIAA title in the Class AAA 1,600.

Her next big meet will be the Baldwin Invitational the first Friday in May.

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