Rivals from North Allegheny, Pine-Richland to join forces at Penn State

Wednesday, November 21, 2018 | 10:57 PM

North Allegheny senior Ryan Partridge stopped short of describing his relationship with Pine-Richland senior Matt Wood as being enemies.

Most of their interaction was as opponents, but the animosity each player felt was more part of the rivalry between districts. When Wood, a catcher, and Partridge, a left-handed pitcher, were paired together in the fall to play on the Allegheny Pirates, everything seemed in balance.

“I think when you have a relationship with pitcher and catcher, you are on the same page,” Partridge said. “You know what a pitcher can throw and what are his strengths and weaknesses. Matt knew that with me. He helped me out when I needed it. He was able to talk me up and got back into the swing of things.”

Both will be seeing more of each other after this high school season. Each has committed to play baseball at Penn State.

“It’s cool, being able to come together and talk about all the games we’ve had against each other,” Wood said. “Pine-Richland and NA is a big rivalry. Coming together to play on a team is different, but come spring, us playing against each other is going to be different, too.”

Working with Partridge in club baseball didn’t provide much of a learning curve for Wood. When opportunities for mound visits presented themselves, they were able to work through trouble spots.

“We clicked right away,” Wood said. “The first time we talked I felt like we had a good connection. We were always on the same page. He’s a good pitcher so it’s easy to work with him. It felt natural for us.”

Partridge finished his junior season for the Tigers with a 0-3 record and 3.57 ERA. He will be returning to a North Allegheny team which features a deep pitching staff, including Anthony Hattrup, who committed to pitch at Dayton. The Tigers were 14-12 last season, finishing as WPIAL runner-up and reached the PIAA quarterfinals.

“I would say, obviously, we’re going to be a defensive-led team,” Partridge said. “Our offense can always get better.”

Wood was a mainstay in the lineup for the Rams as a junior. He hit .444, smacked eight doubles, hit three home runs and drove in 22 runs.

Pine-Richland also made the playoffs last season with a 14-7 mark. The Rams bowed out in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

“I just want to focus on getting bigger and stronger,” Wood said. “Keep lifting over the winter and training and try to get my arm strength up.”

In the spring, both will resume being foes. There will be time to be teammates later.

“We’re going to turn the page on being competitive and starting working together (in college),” Wood said.

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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