West Allegheny pitchers worked out of some tough jams Friday to help the Indians earn a trip to the WPIAL championship.
That's the tall and short of it.
Colin Claus and Tyler Amedure are evidence of that.
The 6-foot-3 Claus and the 5-5 Amedure came up with big outs when they needed to, and West Allegheny took advantage of a Hampton error to beat the Talbots, 3-1, in a WPIAL Class AAA semifinal at West Mifflin.
West Allegheny (17-4), the No. 10 seed, advanced to play top-seeded Blackhawk (14-2) in the title game Wednesday at Consol Energy Park in North Franklin, Washington County. Blackhawk star pitcher Brendan McKay will put his 69-inning scoreless streak on the line.
West Allegheny and third-seeded Hampton (13-8) were tied, 1-1, in the bottom of the fourth inning Friday. With two out, West Allegheny's Jake Cunningham reached base when second baseman Luke Nugent's throw sailed over the head of first baseman Matt Donnelly. That turned out to be huge as Claus ripped an RBI double and Nick Wiethorn an RBI single to give West Allegheny a 3-1 lead.
"Anytime you can get a little help, it's always good," Amedure said.
In the sixth, Amedure -- West Allegheny's shortest player -- made a giant impact.
Claus allowed a one-out single to Hampton's Zach Staszak and Tyler Iverson hit a liner off of Claus' ankle. Suddenly, Hampton had the tying run on base, and Claus was being taken out of the game. West Allegheny coach Bryan Cornell said later, that pulling Claus had to do with his high pitch count, not an injury.
Amedure came in and struck out Donnelly and Tyler Merigliano to end the threat. In the seventh, Amedure retired the side in order, notching two more strikeouts.
"We have as much confidence in Tyler as we do Colin," Cornell said. "It was just 'next man up.' "
Claus (9-0) allowed one run, six hits in 5⅓ innings. He has won all three West Allegheny playoff games this season. Hampton scored its only run on Staszak's groundout in the third.
Hampton pitcher Ben Vey, a University of Buffalo recruit, dropped to 6-2. The Talbots will play West Mifflin (14-5) in the third-place game Wednesday. The winner will qualify for the PIAA playoffs.