After regular season to remember, North Hills baseball jumps into playoff whirlwind

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Saturday, May 18, 2024 | 11:01 AM


The last couple of months have been a positive whirlwind for Jon Pedrosky. And he’s hoping there’s more good developments to come.

In February, just as the 2024 WPIAL baseball season got going, North Hills’ coach and his wife, Allie, welcomed their first child, a boy named Austin.

“It’s been fast forward, learning on the fly,” Pedrosky said with a laugh. “When you have a kid, everything changes. But in a good way.”

What followed was a crash course in parenting, all while guiding his team to a seriously impressive regular season in which the Indians finished 12-4, earning the No. 3 seed and a first-round bye in a deep Class 5A postseason.

It also included a share of the Section 3-5A title with powerhouse West Allegheny.

“The reputation of our section put everyone in the seeds where we are,” Pedrosky said. “It’s just extremely competitive. And I think 5A is just incredibly strong. To put numbers and seeds on it this year is so difficult.”

Early in the season, North Hills’ bats were hot, as the team scored at least eight runs in seven of its first 10 games. After that, the pitching took over.

The Indians allowed just 12 runs over the last five games.

“Our pitching has been strong all year,” Pedrosky said. “Especially in high school baseball, pitching is so important. The bats come and go, but pitching and defense, that’s something we try to pride ourselves on and be consistent with.

“Plus the level of competition increases, as well. Facing some top-tier pitchers, you’re not going to put up nine or 10 runs against some of the pitchers in our section.”

While Pedrosky welcomed an Austin into his life, he and his team had to deal with the absence of another Austin. North Hills standout pitcher Austin Bakowkski missed much of section play with an injury.

“He had back issues and couldn’t throw until the Shaler series (April 22-23), which was the next-to-last section series,” Pedrosky said.

But the Indians got strong work on the mound from Delaware recruit Jake Pollaro, as well as Ben Barr and Connor Davis.

Offensively, North Hills thrived in section play thanks to timely hitting. Four of the Indians’ last five wins have come by two runs or less.

“Our shortstop, Tristan Weimann, the kid is having an unbelievable year,” Pedrosky said. “He was first team all-section. I think that means quite a bit with the talent in our section, especially in the infield.

“Jake Pollaro’s having another great year at the plate, too. He’s doing very, very well.”

Logan Hunt and Zach Kuhn joined to make up a threatening heart of the lineup.

“The meat of our order has been carrying us quite a bit,” Pedrosky added.

Receiving a first-round bye isn’t necessarily a bad thing for any team, but it does give the Indians a lengthy stretch of time off. Their last regular season game was May 9 — a 2-1 win over Penn Hills. They weren’t scheduled to play their quarterfinal matchup until May 20, and that’s provided weather doesn’t play a role.

“We set it up where we had two games during the off week, which is normal,” Pedrosky said. “We scrimmaged Norwin on Monday and Seneca Valley on Thursday. We’re throwing all of our guys to keep their pitch counts up a bit.

“And we’ll get the live at-bats. You can’t simulate those in practice. It’s just not a game situation. The scrimmages will help.”

But Pedrosky knows, bye or not, scrimmages or not, all bets are off when the first pitch is thrown in that first playoff game. With the depth of the field, he thinks it’s anyone’s tournament.

“We’re very fortunate to get the three seed,” he said. “But, at this point, numbers don’t matter. It’s just good team after good team and we’ll see where we fall.”

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