Pitching helps lead Titans to section title


Tom Rekowski

The Titans deliver a pitch vs Central Catholic.

Kiera Harger

In 2019 the Shaler Area baseball team won the 5A WPIAL Championship. This championship team graduated 9 seniors, 6 of which started, which left the team with 3 returning Varsity starters for the 2020 season.

Then, once the Coronavirus rolled around and Spring sports were cancelled for 2020, seniors in the class of 2020 lost their chance to defend their championship. For the 2021 season, the team only returned 2 starters from that 2019 championship team. No one knew what to expect from this team. They were not included in the 5A preseason rankings.

The team finished the regular season with an overall record of 10-5 (8-2 in section) and as champions of section 3, tied along with South Fayette and West Allegheny.

“It’s very hard to beat us when we have everything going for us, and I think a big part of that has been our pitching and defense keeping us in games, which sets us apart from other teams,” junior Noah Gabriel said.

The Titans pitching was fantastic this season. Senior Alec Engelmore stood out for the Titans, including throwing a complete game 6-0 shutout against North Hills to clinch the section title.

“With the new rule this year that section games have to be played back to back days, I feel like I have to be on every time I go out to pitch. Luckily, we have other good pitchers like Miguel Hugas, Derek Leas, and Aidan Williams to back us up if we get into any sort of trouble,” Engelmore said.

Coach Brian Junker had a lot to say about the team’s success on the mound.

“Pitching was our strength this year. You can’t win without pitching. Even though we only had four Varsity pitchers, they did a great job of throwing strikes and keeping opposing runners off base. They had a team ERA of 1.77, which is the lowest since I have been coaching here. They also had 122 K’s with only 49 walks, and combined for 6 shutouts.”

The leading hitters for the Titans were Tristan Holland (.405), Bryan Rincon (.365), and Brady McGuire (.311). Engelmore led the team with 13 RBI.

The Titans were the 7 seed in the WPIAL playoffs this year and faced Fox Chapel on May 19. Engelmore pitched a seven-inning shutout to lead the way to an 8-0 victory. On May 20, the Titans took on Bethel Park. After a long battle with the game tied 2-2 most of the game, the Titans fell 3-2.

Despite the playoff loss, the Titans battled through much adversity this season and proved themselves to be yet again a competitive team.

“This team did a nice job of showing up every day to work. Everyone got along and they really enjoyed being around each other. We had a lot of fun at practices, but they also knew when it was time to get to work,” Junker said.