Trib HSSN Baseball Player of the Week for June 4, 2023

Sunday, June 4, 2023 | 10:26 PM

When a fly ball in shallow center field popped out of the glove of Mt. Lebanon second baseman Brett Hamel in the sixth inning, Blue Devils sophomore David Shields did not know if his no-hitter in the WPIAL Class 6A baseball championship game was still intact or not.

Even when the scoreboard at Wild Things Park in Washington flashed “E” for error a few moments later and the Mt. Lebanon fans roared their approval, Shields still had no idea what the ruling was.

“Once the ball landed, that’s all I was thinking about the rest of the inning was whether it was a hit or not,” Shields said. “I get the last out and I was walking off the field and I asked coach, ‘Was that a hit or not?’ And everybody was like, ‘No, dude, look at the scoreboard.’ I was like ‘whew.’ It felt pretty good.”

Shields was able to retire North Allegheny in order in the seventh inning to preserve his no-hitter and a second consecutive championship for Mt. Lebanon, 4-0.

The history-making performance came 21 years to the day after another Blue Devils pitcher tossed a no-hitter in the district finals.

Chris Koutsavalis threw the first no-hitter in PNC history on May 31, 2002, as Mt. Lebanon beat Blackhawk, 2-0, in the WPIAL Class 3A championship game.

“His no-hitter was just like Koutsavalis’ in that they both pitched off their fastball,” Mt. Lebanon coach Patt McCloskey said. “While they both had excellent secondary pitches in their respective no-hitters, they both used their fastball to control the at-bats.”

The North Allegheny offense had scored five or more runs in 13 of its 16 wins this season. However, Shields’ effort even had the opposing team tipping their cap.

“I’ve been on the losing side of some championships facing some real good pitchers, but this was a different one,” North Allegheny coach Andrew Heck said. “There was just not much more I could do as a coach other than tip the cap and admire his special performance.”

Only four Tigers reached base. Andrew Hart and Anthony Varlotta were hit by pitches, Harron Lee walked and Spencer Barnett reached on the Hamel error.

“The most amazing thing was that he threw a complete game on just 71 pitches,” McCloskey said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a pitch count that low. He was able to do so because his command was so sharp.”

Shields struck out nine Tigers in improving to 5-1 this spring. He has 86 strikeouts in just over 53 innings.

Mt. Lebanon (13-10) will open the PIAA playoffs Monday against Manheim Township (14-10) from District 3.

Whether Shields gets the start Monday or not, he has opened eyes and impressed many folks outside of the Mt. Lebanon community after his historic outing.

“His composure and mentality in a big game in front of a lot of fans as a sophomore was impressive,” Heck said. “I heard him say he had a good feel for all three pitches after the second inning. For a high school player to be sitting 90-92 with good command and a good feel for the off-speed the whole night is tough for high school players. We had to find a way to manufacture offense, but he was a buzzsaw.”

2023 Trib HSSN Baseball Players of the Week

Week 8 – Evan Holewinski, Bethel Park

Week 7 – Ty Eberhardt, Hopewell

Week 6 – Colin Watson, Plum

Week 5 – Andrew Hart, North Allegheny

Week 4 – Frank Kula, Laurel Highlands

Week 3 – Mason Horwat, Avonworth

Week 2 – Zane Griffaton, West Mifflin

Week 1 – Ryan Opfer, Chartiers-Houston


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