North Allegheny capitalizes on errors to defeat rival Pine-Richland
By: Chris Harlan
Thursday, June 6, 2019 | 9:53 PM
Twelve errors in three games will eventually catch up to any baseball team, even a talented WPIAL champion.
Pine-Richland committed four errors Thursday, including one each in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, and section rival North Allegheny capitalized on all three to win 4-1 in a PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal at LaRoche.
NA starter Ryan Partridge allowed only four hits — all singles — making the Rams’ margin for error even smaller. Twice, their errors let a NA runner reach base and eventually score.
The fourth error drove home the final run.
“I told them we’ve been getting away with it,” said Pine-Richland coach Kurt Wolfe, whose team made five errors in the WPIAL championship and three in a PIAA first-round win.
“We averaged one error a game during the regular season … and then four errors today,” he added. “That happens. That’s baseball unfortunately, and they capitalized.”
North Allegheny (19-6) advances to face District 1 runner-up Central Bucks South on Monday. CB South defeated District 3 champion Wilson, 2-1, on Thursday.
A site and time was not announced.
North Allegheny broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth when catcher C.J. Weller reached base on an error, allowing courtesy runner J.T. Montross to later score the go-ahead run on a double-play grounder.
An inning later, Cam Medic reached on an infield error and Shane Murphy followed with an RBI double to lead 3-1. In the seventh, Weller hit a leadoff single, and his courtesy runner scored again on a fielding error.
Each time, NA made Pine-Richland pay for its mistake.
“It’s something that we’ve learned,” NA coach Andrew Heck said. “Early on in the year we let teams off the hook to be honest with you. We didn’t capitalize on them.
“It wasn’t like we were losing games,” he added. “We weren’t winning games by as much as we should have. … We’ve got to be able to capitalize on the opportunities, especially when we play good teams. We did that today.”
North Allegheny had only seven hits but three were doubles. Murphy went 2 for 3 with two doubles and two RBIs despite playing on a painfully injured ankle. Heck called Murphy’s effort “gutsy.”
“I think he was the first kid I hugged after,” Heck said, “because I understand there’ve been struggles.”
Pine-Richland (19-5) had won 16 of 17 games before Thursday’s loss. The Rams’ last loss was to North Allegheny, 2-0 on May 6, when Partridge also was on the mound. In the rematch, the left-hander allowed one run on four hits and one walk with six strikeouts.
Pine-Richland starts five left-handed batters, so Partridge is a tough matchup.
“They’re a great hitting team with a great ability to adapt,” Partridge said. “To come out and get them twice this year is definitely an awesome feeling.”
Rams starter Tommy Beam allowed three runs on six hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings. Beam struck out six.
Both teams committed four errors Thursday but North Allegheny was able to minimize most of them. Three of NA’s errors were on pickoff throws.
Turning errors into runs isn’t always a matter of chance, Heck said.
“I always say keep the pressure on,” he said. “They’ve got to catch the ball, throw the ball, catch the ball, make a tag. That’s a lot to do sometimes as a high school player with pressure on. I like to think we force some of that stuff.”
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .