Brady Alexander’s 3-run homer lifts Shaler to worth-the-wait win over South Fayette

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Thursday, May 16, 2024 | 10:29 PM


There were a lot of outstanding facets to the WPIAL Class 5A first-round game between Shaler and South Fayette that took two days to play.

There were no walks allowed by either pitcher, there were no errors for either team, and there were plenty of web gems by both the Titans and the Lions.

The biggest difference in this postseason classic was the defending WPIAL and PIAA champs had Brady Alexander.

The senior right fielder was indeed Alexander the Great, providing the Titans offense with a three-run homer when play resumed in the first inning, and it stood up as Shaler edged South Fayette, 3-2.

“He’s been known for the big moment,” Shaler coach Brian Junker said of Alexander. “He hit the game-tying three-run triple in the state championship game when we were down, so I’m not surprised. He’s a focused and confident young man.”

The game began Wednesday night at the Boyce-Mayview Complex in Upper St. Clair with South Fayette jumping on top when Gino Satira, Ethan Rose and Adam Caye hit consecutive base hits with two outs with Caye’s single scoring Satira.

In the bottom of the first inning, Brady McGuire and Chase Beran singled for Shaler and with a 1-0 count on Alexander, the Titans No. 3 hitter, lightning in the area delayed the game, then heavy rains forced the game to be suspended to Thursday.

While Junker was pleased after the game’s conclusion, he was extremely agitated at the suspension.

“I was miserable,” Junker admitted. “To be honest, it’s 2024 and everyone is playing on turf except us. I knew we had a chance of (a suspended game) happening. I’m not grumpy anymore, but you just try to keep your mind off of it and I asked the kids to do the same thing.”

Alexander was definitely ready.

On the third pitch he saw once the game resumed, he drove one the opposite way that hit off the top of the right-field fence and bounced over for home run that put the Titans up to stay, 3-1.

The pitching matchup was a battle of Pirates.

Both Shaler junior Colby Weber and Rose, the South Fayette junior, have committed to play at East Carolina in two years.

South Fayette scored a run in the third inning when Anthony Diodata led off with a double and scored on a single by Rose, the second of his three hits.

The Lions had baserunners in five of the seven innings, but Weber came up big when needed.

“Colby told me, ‘Coach, I’m good to go. I want to pitch.’ I threw everything we did out the window and called the game as I always would. It was a brave performance. I know they slapped the ball around a little bit, but he was in the strike zone and that’s what we ask from him.”

Weber only struck out four, but he got two big double plays behind him, including a terrific play by Alexander in right field.

With Brayden Harris on first base after a leadoff single in the fourth inning, Taylor Schepis hit a sinking line drive to right field that looked like trouble for the Titans.

Alexander made the diving catch in a high risk-reward situation, and it paid off as he doubled off Harris at first with a strong throw to the base.

As good as Weber was, South Fayette’s Rose may have been better.

Following the single, single and home run in the bottom of the first inning, Shaler only had two more baserunners the rest of the game.

Alexander reached first base after swinging at strike three and the ball bouncing away from the catcher. However, Alexander was gunned out at second trying to steal.

Then following a leadoff double by Alex Venezia in the fifth inning, a line shot back to Rose by Elijah Muckle turned into a 1-6 inning-ending double play.

“Ethan is an absolute gamer and a true competitor,” South Fayette coach Ken Morgan said. “I love watching him pitch. He has a bulldog mentally and is fearless on the mound.”

In another game oddity, Shaler did not strand a single baserunner in the game.

South Fayette finishes with a record of 8-7 overall.

“The squad battled. A play here or there and the game could have been ours,” Morgan said. “I’m very proud of the efforts of the team this season. I’m blessed to be their coach and I love these guys.”

Shaler improves to 16-5 and advances to the Class 5A quarterfinals. The Titans will play Tuesday because of the delay in finishing their first-round game.

The Titans take on a familiar foe in top-seeded West Allegheny, a team they split their Section 3-5A series with in the regular season.

“I can’t say enough about West Allegheny,” Junker said. “Every year they have an elite team. They have a great culture and Bryan Cornell, in my opinion, is the best in high school baseball coaching. He will have them ready. This is a revenge game for us because they took the section title from us, so we’re hungry.”

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