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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Arizona recruit Matijevic off to blazing start ..... Roundball tomorrow ..... other notes

Written by Mike White on .

Norwin baseball player J.J Matijevic had a pretty lofty reputation entering the season. That comes when you sign with the University of Arizona.

But Matijevic has only enhanced that reputation this season.

The kid with two initials for his first name has become synonymous with two other letters. It's J.J. for HR.

Matijevic has hit a home run in five consecutive games. Norwin has played only six games. He did not hit a home run in the season opener against Penn Hills. But he hit one against Valley, two against North Allegheny, one against Albert Gallatin and one against Connellsville. Matijevic, a 6-foot, 190-pound senior shortstop, has six home runs and 20 RBIs.

"We've had some good hitters here, but hands down he is the best one we've ever had," said Norwin coach Mike Liebdzinski. "Our single-season record at Norwin for home runs is seven. He's one behind in the first six games."

Matijevic has helped Norwin to a 5-1 record.

"He has a ton of power, and the home run he hit against Valley was the farthest home run I've seen hit live on any level," Liebdzinski said. "I don't get down to many Pirate games, but that would've been way out in any ballpark in the country. He has power that most people his age don't have."

Matijevic might be a first baseman at the University of Arizona.

"That's if he gets there," Liebdzinski said. "We've had anywhere from three to seven [major-league] scouts at our games."

McKay's impressive stats

Blackhawk pitcher Brendan McKay is putting together statistics that are unheard of in the WPIAL.

McKay, a senior left-hander, now has a 37-inning scoreless streak going back to last year. No one has WPIAL records for the longest scoreless streak. But I've been covering WPIAL sports for more than three decades and there certainly haven't been many - if any - Brendan McKayto put together such a streak.

But what's hard to believe is that McKay had a similar streak as a sophomore. He went 35 consecutive innings without giving up a run as a 10th grader. In case you didn't realize a 37-inning scoreless streak is more than five high school games.

A few more scoreless games and McKay will be approaching national marks. According to the National Federation of High School Associations, a 52-inning scoreless streak will put McKay in the top 10 all time.

But McKay has a ways to go to reach the national record. In 1973, Joey Porter of South Natchez-Adams High in Natchez, Miss., had an 80-inning scoreless streak.

About 20 major-league scouts were on hand when McKay pitched a no-hitter Wednesday against West Allegheny.

"I hate to say it, but he really wasn't even at his best," said Blackhawk coach Bob Amalia. "He hadn't pitched in 10 days. He was only hitting 86 or 87 and he just wasn't at his best. It was still pretty good, though."

Amalia said the attention from major-league scouts is getting "crazy."

In case you are interested in seeing McKay pitch, Amalia said he is tentatively scheduled to pitch Monday at home against Ambridge. Check back here on the "Varsity Blog" Monday morning and I will give an update on whether McKay is going to pitch.

Son of Fedko shines

There is now a Fedko zone at Vincentian baseball games.

It's at shortstop. That's where Christian Fedko resides.

Christian Fedko, son of the sportscaster, is starting at shortstop for Vincentian. Although Christian is only a freshman, he is one of the team's top hitters with a .455 average. Vincentian is 6-0.

I wonder if we'll see a chopper over Vincentian games now. 

Rounball Classic tomorrow

The stars will come out tomorrow at Geneva College. That's when the Roundball Classic will be played.

The Roundball is an annual all-star basketball event run by Allen Deep. It is now four games with the top seniors in the WPIAL, City League and a few surrounding districts. 

Deep is touting this as possibly the most talent he has assembled for the boys and girls games. A total of 20 all-state players from Western Pennsylvania will be included. The two girls games are at 2 and 4, and the two boys games at 6 and 8. Tickets are available at the door.

All of the seniors on the Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 teams will play. That includes New Castle's Malik Hooker, Hampton's Ryan Luther and Obama's D.J. Porter on the boys side, and Fox Chapel's Erin Mathias and Seton-LaSalle's Yacine Diop on the girls side.

I've been to the Roundball. The games, at least on the boys side, are usually high scoring. It's a little like the NBA All-Star game. Defense is foreign to a lot of the guys. But if you like offense, then check out the games.

Lincoln Park's Elijah Minnie is one of the players in the game. He is visiting Robert Morris.

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