West Allegheny's Mike Cummings leaps onto the pile of his teammates after defeating Blackhawk in the WPIAL Class AAA championship Thursday.
Blackhawk's Brendan McKay pitches against West Allegheny in the WPIAL Class AAA championship Thursday.
By Mike White / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
West Allegheny did more than just break Brendan McKay’s surreal scoreless streak. The Indians went further and did the unthinkable.
They beat McKay.
West Allegheny won the WPIAL Class AAA championship with a 5-3 victory against Blackhawk in eight innings Thursday night at Consol Energy Park in Washington, Pa. It was the third title in eight years for the Indians and coach Bryan Cornell.
West Allegheny won one of those titles with an undefeated record, and this time they pulled off a shocker, beating McKay, who had not lost since two seasons ago and who had made a spot in WPIAL lore with one of the longest scoreless streaks in U.S. baseball history. McKay, a senior left-hander, had not lost since his sophomore year and the loss dropped his career record to 29-2.
McKay came into the game with a 69-inning scoreless streak, third longest and only 11 innings away from the national record. He held West Allegheny scoreless until two outs in the third when West Allegheny broke loose for two runs with two outs.
That meant McKay’s scoreless inning streak lasted 712⁄3 innings, dating to the 2013 season. He finished 2⁄3 of an inning shy of No. 2 on the all-time list.
West Allegheny eventually took a 3-0 lead, only to see Blackhawk (14-3) tie the score, 3-3, in the fourth. The score stayed that way until West Allegheny scored two runs in the top of the eighth off McKay. Tyler Amedure doubled and scored on Michael Cummings’ single. Cummings then scored from second on a groundout.
“Win or lose, I thought this game was one for the ages,” West Allegheny coach Bryan Cornell said. “Hats off to Blackhawk. Brendan McKay is well deserving of everything he has accomplished. I just think tonight it was our time.”
McKay pitched all eight innings, gave up eight hits, struck out 10 and did not walk a batter.
“This is why I respect every opponent, and it doesn’t matter what round of playoffs it is. West Allegheny is a good team,” Blackhawk coach Bob Amalia said. “I was happy with the way our kids competed. Brendan didn’t seem like himself, but the kid is a human being. It’s really hard to do what he has done.”
McKay said: “I think they just squared up a couple fastballs that saw their way through the infield. I thought I was pitching great after we tied game and they had a couple more hits.”
In a way, the pressure is off McKay.
“People won’t mention the streak every day now,” he said.
At West Allegheny, they will be talking about Amedure, who was terrific for West Allegheny (19-4) in relief of starter Colin Claus. Amedure, who is just 5 feet 5, came on in the fourth and gave up only one hit the rest of the way, using good control and keeping Blackhawk off balance with some off-speed pitches. He also hit two doubles, one that scored the first run off McKay.
“We told each other that no one believed in us from the beginning,” Amedure said. “The only ones that believed in us are right here. So we just wanted to start early, do what we were told to do. We had an approach, we took it and came up big.”
West Allegheny scored two runs off McKay in the third. Nic Daigle. That name will be an answer to a good trivia question someday. Who scored the first run off McKay to break his 712⁄3 inning streak?
Daigle was inserted as a courtesy runner for Claus, who led off the third with a single. Daigle moved to second on Nick Wiethorn’s bunt and then went to third on Danny Guilfoil’s groundout. That brought up Amedure with two outs and he hit McKay’s first pitch hard on the ground and it skidded just inside the first-base bag and into the right-field corner for a run-scoring double. For the first time in 399 days, someone went home on McKay. It was the first run he had given up since surrendering one to Central Valley in the seventh inning April 25, 2013.
But West Allegheny didn’t stop with one. Cummings followed Amedure with a single to right to drive home Amedure and make it 2-0. In the fourth, Brandon Pouch led off with his second single of the game and moved to second on Chasen Claus’ bunt. He scored on Jake Cunningham’s single to make it 3-0.
Blackhawk chased Colin Claus in the fourth. Chase Migliore and McKay hit singles and Migliore scored on a wild pitch. Joe Campagna, batting .500 coming into the game, smacked a triple into left-center field to bring home a run and Cody Bain followed with a single to score Campagna and tie the score. Then Amedure came in to pitch.
McKay didn’t seem sharp in the first few innings. You want evidence? He gave up six hits in the first four innings. That’s almost half as many as he had allowed in the past 69 dating to last season. He had allowed only 14 in that time.
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