It wasn’t the prettiest complete game ever pitched, but it might have been one of the gutsiest.
Canon-McMillan High School’s Jake Trainor gave up nine hits. He walked three batters and struck out only two.
But Trainor pitched out of jams and Tyler Schrecengost had a two-run single in the eighth inning as Canon-McMillan upset third-seeded North Allegheny, 4-2, in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs at Washington & Jefferson College’s Ross Memorial Park.
“Wow, how about that performance?” asked Canon-McMillan head coach Frank Zebrasky.
“In the middle innings, he found his fastball. Earlier, they were hitting his fastball and he wasn’t spotting his pitches. That’s a great program, and to win a game against that program kind of gives us a barometer of where we’re sitting. And we’re comfortable with where we’re sitting.”
Where the 14th-seeded Big Macs (13-5) are sitting is in the second round, where they will face Moon at 6:30 p.m. in today’s second round at W&J.
North Allegheny (13-8), the defending WPIAL champion, sees its season end while wondering what happened.
Trainor, a junior right-hander, gave up two runs on a disputed double down the left-field line in the first inning by mound opponent Mitchell Machi, a University of Buffalo recruit. But Trainor settled in after that, throwing seven scoreless innings and pitching out of a pair of bases-loaded jams, in the sixth and seventh innings.
“I pressed a little early on,” said Trainor, who threw 109 pitches. “But I just relaxed and the defense behind me played a helluva game. It’s all for them.”
Right fielder Jared Beach, who hit a solo homer in the fourth to tie the game at 2-2, made a nice running, over-the-shoulder catch with two outs and a runner on first in the fifth inning to save at least one run.
Then, in the sixth inning, North Allegheny loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of singles that were sandwiched around an error.
But with the infield drawn in, Trainor got a grounder to shortstop that turned into an out at home plate, a popout to catcher Anthony Boggio and a groundout to second – all on five pitches – to end the threat.
“I just took a deep breath and relaxed,” said Trainor. “That was our motto last year. I knew I had a good defense behind me, and they would make the plays if they came to them. We got out of it.”
The Tigers again loaded the bases in the seventh, this time with two outs, but Trainor induced a hard-hit ground ball to Schrecengost at third base, who made the unassisted out to end the threat.
“He battled. He competed,” North Allegheny coach Andy Maddix said of Trainor. “He just threw a lot of strikes, and they made plays.”
Meanwhile, Maddix’s own pitchers, Machi and reliever Tyler Saundry, a Niagara recruit, were doing a good job of keeping the Big Macs, who had six hits, off the scoreboard.
A defensive miscue – North Allegheny’s only error – was the difference.
With one out in the top of the eighth, Beach ripped a hooking liner to the right-field gap. But Maddix had Machi, who moved to center field after being removed from the mound in the fifth inning, positioned perfectly, deep and in the gap. The ball was hooking, however, and it got on Machi more quickly than he apparently thought it would. It hit his glove and fell out, putting Beach on second base.
“That kid has a lot of power and we were playing no doubles,” said Maddix. “We were deep and playing him to pull. And we dropped the ball.”
Tanner Piechnick followed with a single – Canon-McMillan’s first hit off of Saundry in four innings – and stole second. Saundry struck out Zach Pollack for the second out, but Schrecengost bounced a seeing-eye single over third base to drive in both runs.
“Trev came up huge with that (hit) down the line,” said Trainor. “That was awesome.”
With the finish in sight, Trainor came out with a little extra pop on his pitches in the eighth. He got Jason Momper to fly out, then recorded his second strikeout of the game, blowing a fastball past Blake Young on a 2-2 count.
“Adrenaline. It was pure adrenaline at that point,” said Trainor. “My arm is about dead.”
Canon-McMillan’s second error of the game put No. 9 hitter Garrett Hagan at second, but leadoff batter Luke Zachren grounded out to second base to send the Big Macs into the second round.
“You’re playing a team in North Allegheny that is in the WPIAL finals pretty much every year,” Trainor said. “It’s pretty cool for the program to go out and get this win.”