Central Catholic Wins First WPIAL Baseball Crown
By Mike Azadian
For the first time in school history the Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings won a WPIAL baseball championship by defeating the Norwin Knights by a score of 2-0. The only other time the Vikings had been to the championship was 1979. It took 36 years to add a baseball trophy to the storied sports program at Central Catholic, and they did it with great pitching, timely hitting, and solid defense.
The game was scoreless thru the first two innings as both Jack Tumulty of the Vikings, and John Driggers of the Knights had strong defense behind them. In the Norwin 2nd with two men on and one out Connor Perry hit a line drive that PCC third baseman Joel Shaffer snagged then doubled up a Knight runner at 1st base for an inning ending double play. In the Vikings 2nd inning with a man on first and no outs, Knights catcher Mike Rossi threw out a PCC runner trying to steal. Both teams seemed to understand that defense indeed wins championships.
The Vikings would score first in the 3rd inning breaking Norwin’s scoreless innings streak at 23 innings. The Knight’s had come into the title game with three straight shut outs and were looking to become the first team in the WPIAL’S highest classification to go thru the playoffs winning all their games by shut out. It wasn’t meant to be as PCC got a lead-off double by Matt Morrone. Antonio Febbrraro followed with an infield single to put runners at the corners with no outs. Number nine batter Antonio Falbo hit an RBI single into left field to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead. After a sacrifice and a walk, Driggers induced two fly ball outs to end the inning as Central left three men on base.
Norwin would threaten in the 3rd inning but Central’s defense got another double play to end the inning. In the 4th inning the Knights had runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs but had a man thrown out at the plate, then Tumulty would get two fly ball outs to end the threat. Norwin would once again put men on base in the 5th inning. With two outs Shaffer would make a running one hand play to throw out a man at first to end the inning. In all the Knights would leave six men on base in innings two thru five.
Central Catholic would get an insurance run in the 6th inning as star catcher Dom Derenzo hit a double to left center field to lead off the inning. The next batter grounded out to the pitcher, Derenzo ran to third, but Knight 1st baseman Reno Rainey’s throw to 3rd base was errant and the run scored on the error and it was 2-0 Vikings.
That’s all that Tumulty would need as he retired eight of the last nine batters to seal the win and the championship. On the day he gave up only six hits and one walk. He allowed only three runners to reach second base, and only one to third in the game. For the Vikings the seven through nine batters Morrone, Febbraro, and Falbo reached base seven of their nine plate appearances with four hits, a run, an RBI, two walks, and a hit batter to pace the Central Catholic offense. The other six batters only reached base three times.
Norwin falls to 15-5 on the season but still qualifies for the PIAA state playoffs. They will play the winner of the Dubois State College game on Monday June 1st at a site and time to be determined. Pittsburgh Central Catholic improves to 12-7 and they move on to the state playoffs as well and will face the Shaler Titans on Monday June 1 at a site and time to be determined. (Photo by Lee Mohn).