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North Hills punches ticket to WPIAL baseball 5A championship game

It was a long wait, 44 years in fact, since North Hills last made it to the WPIAL baseball semifinals back in 1974. The Indians didn't wait long at all to cement their spot in the title game.

North Hills scored early, poured on the runs late and defeated West Allegheny, 11-4, in a WPIAL Class 5A semifinal at North Allegheny.

North Hills will take on Mars in the title game at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Wild Things Park.

“Were not done yet,” said North Hills coach Randy Miller. “This team’s hungry and we want to go get it.”

West Allegheny sophomore standout Austin Hendrick, a Mississippi State recruit, got off to a rough start on the mound. His first five pitches were out of the strike zone and he walked two while North Hills put up three runs in the top of the first.

J.T. Mazula smacked a two-run triple to the left-center field gap. Then, pinch-runner Tyler Brennan scored after a West Allegheny error.

“That gave us some breathing room,” Mazula said of coming out strong. “Hits are contagious and they keep coming. That’s what happened today.”

Shea Downing answered for West Allegheny by knocking in Hendrick in the bottom of the first.

The bats were silent for the next three innings until Downing took to the mound and replaced Hendrick, who struck out six in four innings, but never had control of the game. North Hills capitalized by pounding multiple extra base hits and plating six runs. Steven Miller and Mazula had RBI doubles before Jordan Pitchford cracked a two-run triple off the right field fence for the relentless North Hills attack, which plated two more in the sixth.

“If you grind and you compete, good things are going to happen,” Mazula said.