PIAA baseball: Another duel expected as top guns meet again
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Some called the first pitching duel between Greg Schneider and Brendan McKay one for the ages.
Now there is a chance to make it two for the ages.
Thomas Jefferson will meet Blackhawk in a PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal baseball game 7 p.m. Thursday at North Allegheny. Schneider will pitch for Thomas Jefferson and McKay for Blackhawk.
The game will match two of the top pitchers in the state for the second time in 17 days -- Schneider, a senior right-hander, against McKay, a sophomore left-hander. It will be hard to duplicate the magic of the first showdown. Then again, judging by their statistics, this could be another memorable duel.
Between Schneider and McKay, they have pitched 1491/3 innings and allowed 13 runs, including only seven earned.
"I told our kids that this is why you play sports, to play in games like this," said Thomas Jefferson coach Rich Krivanek. "That first game was absolutely amazing. From the fans' standpoint, you couldn't ask for anything more. Whatever the price of admission was, they could have tripled it because that game was that good.
"To see these two go at it again is just awesome."
The first meeting was in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals and Blackhawk won, 1-0, in nine innings. Schneider did not allow a hit until the ninth inning and finished with 15 strikeouts and a one-hitter. McKay pitched a two-hitter and struck out 15.
Blackhawk's Brandon Mansell led off the ninth with a single. Brendan Kearney then bunted, and Schneider fielded the ball. But Schneider slipped and his throw sailed down the right-field line, allowing Mansell to score.
"Our whole team is happy we got a rematch," Schneider said. "The way it ended last time wasn't what we were planning. Once our coach told us we could have a chance to play them again, we were really looking forward to it. We know it's going to be another fight toward the end."
For these Cougars and Jaguars, it could be a cat fight to score a run. McKay has surreal statistics for a sophomore playing in one of the largest classifications. He is riding a 30-inning scoreless streak and is 8-1 with a 0.47 ERA. He has 86 strikeouts in 74 innings and has walked only 12.
Until Schneider gave up the run to Blackhawk, he had not allowed a run in 32 consecutive innings. For the season, he is 9-1 with a 0.24 ERA. He has allowed only 33 hits and has 129 strikeouts.
"We kind of tried everything against Schneider the last time," said Blackhawk coach Bob Amalia. "We were patient. We tried swinging early. We tried to bunt, but nothing seemed to really work.
"I think a game like this again is really good for high school baseball in this area because it generates some excitement, and not just for the teams involved. I think some people who just like high school baseball in general might go to this game. ... But baseball is funny. On paper it looks like this will be a low-scoring game, but you never know. One pitcher might not have his stuff and it could be a high-scoring game."
Krivanek doubts it.
"These two are just great pitchers, and these teams in general are great teams," Krivanek said. "I guarantee you both Bob and I will be playing for a run earlier in the game than we would both like."
Schneider said, "Whoever gets the first run across will probably win."
First Published June 6, 2012 12:00 am