North Allegheny’s talented lineup, rotation aims to ‘prove something’

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Sunday, April 11, 2021 | 11:01 AM


In a way, pitcher Kyle Demi personifies North Allegheny’s mindset this season. He’s a big right-hander with a fastball that can reach 90 mph, but most folks around the WPIAL haven’t seen him throw it.

On paper, he’s an ace.

Yet, before this season, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior never had pitched an inning of varsity baseball thanks to the pandemic.

“I feel like I’ve got a lot to prove,” said Demi, who started NA’s season opener. “Nobody knows who I am. I’m going to go out there and throw every week like I’m trying to show them who I am.”

Everyone could learn a lot about him and his teammates in the coming weeks.

North Allegheny has a rising WPIAL star at shortstop, another Division I recruit at second base, a talented catcher, a deep pitching staff and seemingly everything else you’d want for a memorable season. But for many names on NA’s roster, this spring will be their first glimpse of varsity baseball because last season was canceled entirely.

“We’re all out here trying to prove something,” Demi said. “We’re good on paper. We’re trying to prove we’re as good as we look on paper.”

North Allegheny entered this season ranked third in WPIAL Class 6A, and there’s talk of the Tigers maybe winning their first title since 2013. Since celebrating their first in 1990, this is the longest NA has gone between WPIAL titles. NA coach Andrew Heck won’t shy away from the expectations but reminds his team often that talk won’t win titles.

“My message to our team is: ‘Hey, you’ve got to go out and prove it,’ ” said Heck, who’s in his fifth year. “You think you’re good. We think we’re good. A lot of people think we’re good. Go prove it. You want to live with the hype, go prove it.”

The hype begins around junior shortstop Cole Young, a Duke recruit who hit .414 as a freshman and led the team in RBIs with 26. An exceptional fielder with a strong arm and a powerful left-handed swing, Young could become an MLB Draft prospect before his amateur days are over.

But he’s not the only Division I recruit in the infield. Sophomore second baseman Spencer Barnett already is committed to West Virginia.

“We have a lot of expectations right now,” Young said. “We have so many good pitchers, so many good position players. We’re just really excited, mainly because we didn’t have a season last year.”

In 2019, North Allegheny went 19-7 and reached both the WPIAL and PIAA semifinals. Four players on this year’s roster earned at-bats that season.

Young made 92 plate appearances, and senior Logan Andreyko had 77. Andreyko, now the team’s starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, had a .442 on-base percentage and scored 20 runs in 2019.

Junior catcher Aaron Posey had 20 plate appearances as a freshman, and senior outfielder/designated hitter Joe Manesiotis had 14 as a sophomore.

“I feel we have some pretty good players,” Heck said, “but not a lot of varsity experience yet.”

That’s true of the pitching staff, as well. Nobody had thrown a varsity inning before this season, yet pitching depth might be one of NA’s strengths.

Along with Demi, the Tigers will rely on seniors Joe Lang, a Penn State Behrend recruit, and Brady Palmer.

Heck also will get innings from Barrett and junior Aaron Galaska, who combined with Demi to defeat Seneca Valley in the team’s first section win April 7.

Demi struck out eight and allowed four hits and two runs in five innings. Heck said his fastball has been clocked around 88 to 90 mph, which should earn him some college interest this spring.

“I think if we’d had a season last year, a lot of people would be big on him and really like what he brings to the table,” Heck said. “I’m hopeful after these first couple of weeks some places start to recognize him. But he has to go out and do it. He has to prove it.”

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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