Mt. Lebanon’s David Shields no-hits North Allegheny in WPIAL Class 6A baseball championship game

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Wednesday, May 31, 2023 | 9:57 PM


Mt. Lebanon has a knack for no-hitters in WPIAL championship games.

Sophomore left-hander David Shields had heard tales about the team’s last one, thrown in 2002 by Chris Koutsavlis, who nowadays runs the Blue Devils’ offseason pitching program. Twenty-one years later, exactly to the date, Shields matched the feat.

The Miami (Fla.) recruit held second-seeded North Allegheny hitless Wednesday night, letting No. 5 Mt. Lebanon celebrate a second straight WPIAL title with a 4-0 win in the Class 6A final at Wild Things Park.

“Coach McCloskey is always talking about (Koutsavlis’) no-hitter,” Shields said. “We always hear about it any time we talk about him. To be able to match that is crazy. It’s surreal. I can’t believe it.”

Shields struck out nine, walked one and hit two batters. His no-hit bid was most in danger when a sixth-inning popup dropped behind second base and was ruled an error.

In the seventh inning, Shields struck out the first two batters and forced a game-ending flyout to right field.

“It hasn’t kicked in yet, but it’s crazy,” said Shields, who needed only 71 pitches for the complete game. “It was truly amazing.”

The win continued a remarkable turnaround for Mt. Lebanon (13-10), which didn’t look like a title contender two months ago. The Blue Devils started the season with eight consecutive losses but found their championship form in the second half of the season.

Wednesday’s win was the team’s 11th in the past 13 games.

“We stunk,” Mt. Lebanon coach Patt McCloskey said. “We lost ugly. It was bad. That’s on me. We had good players. We didn’t win. We had to keep trying new things.”

The WPIAL title was the sixth for the Blue Devils.

Mt. Lebanon took a 3-0 lead in the second inning when Nathaniel Girod, Jacob Tinnemeyer and Brett Hamel all reached based and scored. The inning’s key hit was a two-run triple by senior Tanner Donati.

The Blue Devils tacked on another run in the fourth inning when Tinnemeyer walked and scored. Two North Allegheny errors helped him advance.

North Allegheny starter JD Costanzo allowed four runs on four hits in six innings. The junior walked three and struck out six.

The Tigers, who were the 2021 champions, were seeking their second WPIAL title in three years.

“We prepared (for Shields), but from the offensive side of things, sometimes you’ve just got to tip your cap,” NA coach Andrew Heck said. “He pitched a hell of a game.”

Facing a left-hander with Shields’ velocity isn’t an everyday occurrence in WPIAL baseball. Making the matchup tougher was that Shields was throwing all three pitches for strikes, Heck said.

“To be able to locate left and right like he did tonight, that’s hard to simulate for high school kids,” he said.

Shields walked the first batter he faced before retiring the next 11 in order. He hit a batter in the fourth and another in the fifth, but was otherwise sharp.

“It’s what you expect every time, ” junior catcher Nolan Smith said. “I’ve been catching David since we were nine years old. It’s just dominance.”

Shields pitched a four-hitter with 10 strikeouts in the WPIAL quarterfinals. In the finals, he relied less on strikeouts and more on his defense, which kept his pitch count lower.

“The amount of pressure David Shields has on him is indescribable,” McCloskey said. “The kid (committed to) Miami before he throws a high school pitch. To handle the pressure the way that he has, David is a mental giant. That’s why he carries us, because of what he can do between his ears, not just the gifts he has out there.”

McCloskey said Shields’ no-hitter reminded him of the one Koutsavlis threw at PNC Park in 2002, when the Blue Devis defeated Blackhawk, 2-0. (Koutsavlis has the distinction of throwing the first no-hitter in that stadium’s history). Both Shields and Koutsavlis are hard-throwing left-handers, and both rode the fastball in their no-hitters, McCloskey said.

Koutsavlis, a private instructor, organizes an offseason program for the team’s pitchers. McCloskey said he believed Koutsavlis was likely somewhere in the stadium crowd watching.

“We’ve been blessed with some tremendous left-handed pitchers,” said McCloskey, who was a Mt. Lebanon assistant coach in 2002. “We’ve been really, really, really lucky.”

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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