North Allegheny returns to WPIAL finals after 10-run win over Butler

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Tuesday, May 25, 2021 | 8:41 PM


North Allegheny’s Joe Manesiotis surely was a little surprised when Butler intentionally walked the batter ahead of him to load the bases.

The senior already was 3 for 3 with three RBIs before delivering the game-ending hit, a run-scoring single in the sixth that brought on the 10-run rule as the Tigers defeated Butler, 10-0, in a WPIAL Class 6A semifinal Tuesday.

In fairness to Butler, it was a reasonable strategy, and almost everyone in NA’s lineup was swinging a hot bat. As a team, the Tigers batted better than .500 with 15 hits in 28 at-bats.

Eight Tigers had at least one hit.

“I felt like we were in the driver’s seat from the beginning,” said Manesiotis, the team’s designated hitter. “We showed up and took care of business.”

Manesiotis went 4 for 4 with four RBIs, Danny Gallon scored three times and North Allegheny defeated section foe Butler for the third time this season.

With this win, top-seeded North Allegheny (19-3) earned another trip to the WPIAL finals. The Tigers face No. 3 Hempfield (15-7) in the final June 1 or 2 at Wild Things Park.

The championship appearance will be NA’s third since 2017 and the team’s 17th overall.

“It’s a great feeling,” NA coach Andrew Heck said. “You can’t win unless you’re there. Now, we’ve just got to finish it off. Our motto has been, ‘Go prove it.’ We’ve proved enough to get there. Now let’s prove that we can win one.”

A four-run first inning took much of the suspense out of Tuesday’s semifinal. Those runs were enough for NA starter Brady Palmer, who allowed only three hits, walked one and struck out nine in the six-inning shutout.

NA added one run in the third inning, three in the fifth and two in the sixth.

“As soon as we made any sort of mistakes, they just jumped right on us,” Butler coach Josh Forbes said. “In all honesty, that’s a confident team. They’d already kicked our butts twice. Why wouldn’t they be confident?”

NA won 8-1 and 11-0 in late April.

Gallon, who went 3 for 4, sparked the first-inning rally with an RBI single and scored on a two-run double by Manesiotis. The two seniors also combined for NA’s 10th run, when Gallon scored from third on Manesiotis’ one-out single, bringing on the 10-run rule.

Manesiotis also had an RBI double in the third and singled and scored in the fifth.

Butler used three pitchers with Cooper Baxter and James Desmond splitting the first four innings. Mac Schnur handled the final 1 1/3 innings. Baxter allowed five runs, Desmond two and Schnur three.

Seven different NA players scored runs. Ethan Gavlik and Aaron Posey each had two hits.

“You never see a team that can hit like that, one through nine,” Gallon said. “We’ve just kind of got that team this year. I think we’re very special in that way.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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