South Fayette’s Tyler Pitzer dazzles Franklin Regional with 5-inning perfect game

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Wednesday, May 18, 2022 | 12:36 AM


This outing was perfect for South Fayette pitcher Tyler Pitzer in more ways than one.

Shoulder soreness had the junior shut down for about a month earlier this season, but the South Carolina commit showed Tuesday night what he can do at full strength when he pitched a five-inning perfect game and hit an RBI triple in a WPIAL Class 5A playoff opener.

The 6-foot-2 right-hander struck out nine of the 15 batters he faced as No. 7 South Fayette defeated No. 10 Franklin Regional, 10-0, in a first-round victory at Burkett Park.

“Not being able to throw was terrible,” Pitzer said. “That was my worst nightmare, so being able to throw again feels good.”

He’s now a nightmare for opponents.

Pitzer struck out four of the first six batters he faced and seven of the first 10. His fastball location was sharp, he said, but he often used his curveball and changeup to get ahead in counts.

Then his fastball closed the deal.

“He threw a heck of a game,” Franklin Regional coach Bobby Saddler said. “He was spotting the fastball. He had the velo today. We expected that. The boys battled. It wasn’t for a lack of effort. He was on his game today.”

South Fayette coaches have monitored Pitzer’s workload since he returned in early May, but his pitch count Tuesday was never a worry. He reached the 50-pitch mark in the fourth inning and finished in the mid 60s. He struck out the last two batters he faced.

The perfect game was his first, but he did throw a no-hitter a season ago and a combined no-hitter this year.

“Tyler is a special kid. He’s got a special arm,” South Fayette coach Ken Morgan said. “And he’s got a special determination with how he goes about his approach. I want to say we’re shocked and surprised, but that kid works hard and he earns everything. Tonight it showed.”

The game was part of a tripleheader at Montour’s field in Robinson. The first two games had dramatic moments. In the first game, Bethel Park escaped upset by defeating Gateway, 6-5, in 11 innings. In the second, West Allegheny edged Fox Chapel, 1-0, in a pitchers’ duel.

The third game had none of that drama.

South Fayette scored three runs in the first inning, one in the second and five in the third. The Lions led 9-0 after three innings, leaving defending WPIAL champion Franklin Regional fighting to avoid the 10-run rule.

In the fifth inning, South Fayette’s Lucas Cooper ended the game with a no-out, sacrifice fly to right.

South Fayette had all nine batters reach base at least once through a combination of six hits, four walks, two hit batters and a couple of errors. Chase Krewson, Michael DiMartini and Christian Brandi hit run-scoring doubles. Pitzer added an RBI triple in the third.

Pitzer isn’t the team’s only college baseball recruit. Krewson, a junior center fielder, is committed to Notre Dame. DiMartini, a junior shortstop, is headed to Penn State. Yet, the Lions have felt somewhat overlooked after a 14-4-1 record earned them a No. 7 seed.

“They haven’t mentioned us once (as a WPIAL contender),” Pitzer said. “We obviously want to have our name out there. It’s motivation for us to win everything.”

Pitzer is certainly earning recognition, even if his season got off to a slow start. The team opened its schedule with four games in Tampa, Fla., and it was there that Pitzer started feeling sore. The Lions returned home for a two-game series April 4-5 against Moon and Pitzer tried to pitch through the discomfort.

“I did all right, but my shoulder was hurting the entire time,” he said, “so I took four weeks off and did a full rehab.”

Pitzer returned to the mound May 2 to face Chartiers Valley, but coaches have limited his innings.

He could have worked another inning or two Tuesday, but five innings was perfect for him and his coach. His next turn in the rotation could come in the WPIAL semifinals.

“We’ve slowly progressed throughout his return,” Morgan said, “building him up and trying to get him to a point where we can extend his outings. We’re fortunate and thankful tonight we didn’t have to overexert him.”

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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