By Peyton Celesti | Sports Writer
BRIGHTON HEIGHTS — After a wild 15-14 victory over 14th Ward in their previous matchup, Northside Colt played small ball on a chilly evening on June 12 at Jack Stack Field. Starting pitcher Randy Aguglia threw fiveplus innings of one-hit ball to lead Northside (6-0) past Etna (3-4) by a final score of 6-2. Northside only had five hits, but four walks allowed by Etna pitchers and four errors by the Etna defense were enough to scratch off six runs across six innings.
Northside outdid Etna’s four errors with five of their own, but theirs weren’t as costly as Etna’s, thanks to the great work of Aguglia. Etna hitters weren’t getting any hard contact off of him as he worked around three Northside errors in the first three innings. Aguglia only struck out two Etna batters through his fiveplus innings of work, but many soft ground balls and pop-ups made for easy outs.
Northside’s offense didn’t have many hardhit balls throughout the night either, but being aggressive on the bases when the opportunities presented themselves put runners in scoring position during many innings. Northside base runners stole seven bags uncontested on Etna pitchers, as they got huge jumps that didn’t give the Etna catcher a chance. “It’s something we take pride in,” said Manager Kevin Hemmingway of how his team loves to cause mayhem on the basepaths.
Aggressive base running helped Northside get on the scoreboard right away in the bottom of the first inning. A leadoff walk issued to left fielder Chris Crawford allowed him to steal second base without a throw. The next batter was Donovan Snelsire, who hit a ground ball over the second base bag for an RBI (Runs Batted In) single. Later in the inning, with runners on second and third and two outs, shortstop Cam Hemmingway hit the most towering blast of the night out to the fence in left field. But a nice catch was made by Etna’s left fielder to end the inning and limit the damage. A little more on the barrel, and Hemmingway may have had himself a three-run home run.
Like the top half of the first inning, the second inning started with the leadoff man for Etna reaching base on an error. But during the next at-bat, catcher Nick Rawlings made a heads-up play by catching the runner napping at first on a pickoff attempt, and Northside recorded the out in a rundown. Randy Aguiglia then managed to retire the rest of the side in order.
The top of the third wasn’t as easy, as Aguglia faced his first legitimate jam. After another error and a walk, Etna had runners on first and second with one out. But a bouncer hit right back to the mound helped Aguglia turn an easy 1-6-3 inning-ending double play.
In the bottom of the third inning, Chris Crawford led off and reached second again on a dropped pop-up in the infield due to a lack of communication between Etna’s pitcher and first baseman. With one out, Clark Ehman had the same result Donovan Snelsire had in the first inning — an RBI ground ball single up the middle to drive in Crawford — which gave Northside a 2-0 lead.
After a 1-2-3 top of the fourth inning for Randy Aguglia, Cam Hemmingway led off the bottom half with a walk and cruised into second for another easy steal for Northside. Two ground ball outs — one by first baseman Anthony Barron to move Hemmingway to third, and an RBI groundout by Maurice Yanders to bring him home — gave Northside their third run of the evening.
But the damage done in the bottom of the fifth inning put the game out of reach for Etna. After allowing two walks, it looked as though they would get out of the inning without harm. With runners on second and third and two outs, a ground ball hit by Randy Aguglia should have been a routine out for the Etna shortstop, but a throwing error to first allowed both runners to score to put Northside up 5-0.
After five flawless innings on the mound, Aguglia ran into trouble in the top of the sixth, allowing a leadoff walk and a hit batter. Coach Kevin Hemmingway pulled him for Donovan Snelsire, who escaped a bases-loaded, one-out situation to keep Etna scoreless. Through the first six innings, Etna had just one hit.
In the bottom of the sixth, first baseman Anthony Barron, who had two of Northside’s five hits on the night, essentially manufactured an insurance run all by himself. After a line drive opposite-field single to left field, Barron used his speed to advance from first to home on a routine groundout to first. The Etna first baseman made an errant throw trying to nab Barron at third, which allowed him to score.
That extra run to give Northside a six-run cushion allowed them to stay calm and collected to finish off an Etna offense that finally came alive in the top of the 7th. Snelsire allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk in the inning. With the bases loaded and the tying run at the plate, left fielder Chris Crawford caught a routine shallow flyball. The runner at third tested Crawford’s cannon arm, which turned out to be a poor decision. Crawford threw a one-hop strike to catcher Nick Rawlings, and the run- ner was tagged before he could even slide into home. The outfield assist by Crawford ended the game for Northside in grand fashion.
Manager Kevin Hemmingway credits his team’s success this season to the hard work they have put in.
“We’re back in the Suburban League getting extra practice games in,” he said.
With the Pirates RBI season only consisting of 10 games, the extra action this Northside Colt team is getting has created camaraderie and is preparing them for the competition throughout the city league.
Northside will look to secure a playoff berth and a high seed during the back end of their schedule on their quest to go to PNC Park for the Mayor’s Cup.
Northside 12U falls to Morningside
BRIGHTON HEIGHTS — Northside’s 12U softball matchup against Morningside had been rescheduled twice due to inclement weather, but the game finally occurred at Jack Stack on June 18 at 10 a.m. It was the first of two games for the Northside girls that day, as they later visited Squirrel Hill at 3:30 p.m. Unfortunately, the day’s first game for Northside did not go well, as Morningside cruised to victory.
The mishaps started in the top of the first inning. Northside allowed two runs on two errors and two walks, but starting pitcher Vivienne Clark struck out three batters in a row to shut down what could have been a disastrous inning.
Clark’s strong end to the top half of the first gave momentum to the Northside offense in the bottom half of the inning, as they put up two runs of their own to tie the game. Leadoff hitter Faye Garretson reached second base on a dropped pop-up and a throwing error and scored on another throwing error after an infield single by Clark. Later in the inning, Clark showed great hustle by scoring from second on a groundout.
Although it seemed Northside would be able to put up a good fight after a decent first inning, things got out of hand during the top of the second. The inning started with an infield hit and a double to put Morningside back in the lead, and they capitalized on Northside errors to put the game out of reach. The Morningside girls put up a crooked six spot in the inning that gave them a six-run lead, and they never looked back from there. Madie Schacht tried to start a rally for Northside in the bottom of the second inning by reaching second base on a leadoff infield single. But she was left stranded as the rest of the side was retired in order, eliminating any hopes of a comeback.
Morningside caused more havoc in the top of the third by putting up four more runs. Faye Garretson replaced Vivienne Clark on the mound that inning and was very efficient by throwing many strikes, but Morningside batters bunched hard hits together for another big inning.
Although the game was out of reach, the Northside offense had good at-bats in the bottom of the third and fourth innings. In the bottom of the third, a run scored on an infield single by Madie Barber, and in the fourth, Northside scratched off another run after a hard-hit single to center field by Madie Schacht and two walks. In both innings, however, Morningside infielders made good plays to keep the Northside offense at bay.
This game was rough for the Northside girls, but credit them for brushing that one off and bouncing back that afternoon. They defeated Squirrel Hill 19-12 in the second game of their doubleheader.