Strong pitching, clutch hitting propel North Hills Palomino to league title
In the final game of the Quad County North Palomino league season, North Hills held off a feisty Kittanning team 8-4 to earn the title of champions in the summer baseball league.
The pivotal victory marked the 19th consecutive win for the Indians (19-1), who have been on a tear since losing the opening game of their summer season. And in their final triumph in the Quad County North League, North Hills was again fueled by an impressive performance by Beau Braunlich, the ace of their pitching staff.
The left-handed hurler tossed a complete game to earn the win and also chipped in two RBIs at the plate. It may not have been a lights-out, shutout performance for Braunlich, but North Hills Palomino coach Jason Bisesi said there were never any thoughts of removing him from the game prematurely.
“Beau started pitching with us in the summer during his freshman year, and back then, he may have been the No. 3 or 4 pitcher for us. During the last few years, he’s really been somebody that’s not afraid to bear down for us,” Bisesi said.
“There’s no replacement for that experience. He understands what he has to do to get the job done; he never gets too high or too low. We knew we were going to let him finish that game; he was under 100 pitches and he was in command of the zone. He was going to finish that game.”
In addition to Braunlich’s workmanlike performance in the victory, North Hills also enjoyed a couple of clutch at-bats from their hitters in the championship game.
After jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first inning, North Hills surrendered a run to Kittanning. That run was quickly nullified by David Lane, who knocked in a run with a two-out single to stretch his team’s lead to 6-1.
Lane wasn’t the only Indian who proved to be adept at hitting with two outs, as Tyler Zozos also came through with a two-out single that scored two runs for his team.
“I think we’re just all on the same page in terms of approach. We want our guys to be aggressive early in the count, so that they give themselves a good opportunity to find a gap out there,” Bisesi said.
“But as the count progresses, we’re looking to shorten things up and find the ball with barrel of the bat. They’ve been good at that and good at putting those balls in play.”
Thanks to their win in the Quad County North championship game, North Hills gained an automatic bid to the Palomino 18U East Zone Championship tournament in Struthers, Ohio. The Indians will play their first game of the tournament at 5:30 p.m. July 26, against Great Neck, Va.