Weston, Canon-McMillan defeat North Allegheny in PIAA Class 6A quarterfinals

Thursday, June 7, 2018 | 9:24 PM

Among Cam Weston's four-pitch arsenal is a swing-and-miss forkball he likes to throw, but lately he's used it rarely.

“I haven't been throwing strikes,” the Canon-McMillan junior said, “so I haven't gotten to a good count where I could use it.

“But that's my best wipeout pitch.”

On Thursday, Weston stuck a fork in North Allegheny's season.

Weston walked five batters, but the hard-throwing right-hander allowed only two hits in six innings as Canon-McMillan defeated North Allegheny, 6-3, in a PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal at Seton Hill. The Michigan commit struck out four and threw his forkball at least 10 times.

Combined, the first four batters in NA's order went 1 for 12 with four strikeouts against Weston.

The Big Macs started senior ace Zach Rohaley in the WPIAL finals and the PIAA opener, but Weston showed he's a strong second option.

“Everybody talks about how good Rohaley is, and I get it, but Cam Weston is a beast,” Canon-Mac coach Tim Bruzdewicz said. “We wouldn't be here without Cam. He commanded some pitches, started throwing his forkball late and he was probably throwing in the low-90s today, I'm sure.”

At the plate, Weston went 2 for 3, scored once and drove in three runs as the cleanup hitter. His two-run double keyed a four-run first inning that gave him an early 4-0 cushion.

Weston relaxed after his 95-pitch outing by running shuttle drills on the Seton Hill turf with the team's other pitchers. Coaches also had the entire team run sprints across the outfield.

“We run them probably once every two weeks, either in the gym or outside,” said Bruzdewicz, who called it routine. “It's what we've been doing for three years, and we're going to continue doing that.”

But Weston felt like there was a message: the season isn't over, so keep working.

Eight days after winning their first WPIAL baseball title and three days after making their state playoffs debut, the Big Macs are headed to the PIAA semifinals. Canon-McMillan (19-5) will face Council Rock North on Monday.

Bruzdewicz will have both Rohaley and Weston available to pitch.

“To be a good coach, you've got to have horses,” Bruzdewicz said. “I'm not a Mensa guy. I basically give Rohaley and Weston the ball … and I say go get ‘em.”

Weston allowed two runs in the fourth inning and another in the sixth but escaped two jams and stranded five NA runners. In the second, North Allegheny (14-12) loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter but Weston escaped unharmed with a two-out grounder to first.

“He threw hard and he was finding the top of the strike zone,” NA coach Andrew Heck said. “When you're finding the top of the strike zone and you're kind of effectively wild, sometimes you have to chase.

“Credit him. He threw a really good game today.”

North Allegheny tried to rally in the seventh when two reached base against reliever Ian Hess but closer Brandon Kline struck out Colin Cain for the final out.

The state quarterfinal was a rematch from the WPIAL finals when Canon-McMillan defeated North Allegheny, 2-1. Neither team used the same starter in the rematch. NA started Cain, who allowed six runs on six hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out four.

Canon-McMillan had its first five batters reach base against Cain and scored four times on an RBI double by Ian Hess, Weston's two-run double and a sacrifice fly by Rohaley to lead 4-0.

In the fourth, after NA's Caiden Wood and Ryan Dougherty drew consecutive walks, C.J. Weller followed with an RBI single and Brett Heckert drove in another with a groundout to trail 4-2.

Canon-McMillan added two runs in the fifth. Kline singled, Cameron Walker reached base on an error, Hess hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly and Weston added an RBI single to lead 6-2.

Cain singled and scored in the sixth for NA's third run.

“It was too little too late,” Heck said. “I thought we started to swing the bats a little bit toward the end, but early on we couldn't seem to put bat on ball and drive the ball. … If you're not able to do that, it's hard to score.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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