Andrew Hart said that he and North Allegheny’s other starting pitchers have had a friendly competition going this season as to who has the lowest ERA.

The fact that Hart’s is a minuscule 1.31 yet still ranks third out of the Tigers’ top three starters sums up the amount of success the trio and the pitching staff as a whole have had this spring.

“It’s incredible,” said Hart, a senior right-hander and Gardner-Webb recruit. “No matter who coach puts out there, we know they’ll fill up the zone and get outs.”

North Allegheny’s pitchers have been in the zone this season and are a big reason the Tigers are 11-3 overall (7-2 in Section 1) and one of the top WPIAL title contenders in Class 6A. The Tigers have given up only 34 runs, boast a team ERA of 1.38 and a team WHIP of 1.01. They have registered five shutouts, are 10-0 when holding opponents to three runs or fewer, and 1-3 when they do not.

“They’ve been very good outside of one or two outings,” North Allegheny coach Andrew Heck said. “In those games we’ve kind of lost control of the strike zone, but outside of that, we’ve done a very good job.”

One of the outliers was a 9-0 loss to Seneca Valley last Tuesday. North Allegheny still took two of three against its section rival in the series, giving the Tigers six wins in their past seven games. In those six wins, North Allegheny pitchers have produced three shutouts and have surrendered only four runs total.

North Allegheny’s primary three starters have been Hart, junior left-hander J.D. Costanzo and junior right-hander David Posey. Of the three, Hart (17⅓ innings) saw the most work last season. Hart is the hardest thrower of the three, as he said he has gotten up to 93 mph on the radar gun. But you don’t have to be a flamethrower to throw strikes, something this trio has shown. Over 61 innings of work, the three have combined for 99 strikeouts while walking 29.

Each of the three has tremendous numbers: Costanzo is 4-1 with 1.21 ERA and has struck out 43 in 23 innings; Posey is 3-1 with a 0.95 ERA and has fanned 37 in 22 innings; and Hart is 1-1 with a save, owns a 1.31 ERA, and has punched out 19 in 16 innings.

“Costanzo is a lefty, and he’s a guy that when he’s on and throwing three pitches for a strike, he’s really tough,” said Heck, who has guided the Tigers to the WPIAL finals three times in his six seasons, winning one title. “Posey does a great job of commanding every area of the strike zone. When he’s going good, he can spot on the corners and elevate the ball in the strike zone. And when you’re throwing in the 80s, it’s tough for high school hitters. When Hart is on, he’s one of the best in the WPIAL. And he had it against Seneca Valley.”

Hart struck out nine and took a shutout into the sixth inning in North Allegheny’s most recent game, a 6-2 triumph at Seneca Valley last Thursday. Hart also terrorized Seneca Valley at the plate, going 4 for 4 with an RBI and three runs scored.

North Allegheny sophomore Nico Varlotta fired a no-hitter in a 5-0 win against Allderdice on April 20. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

However, North Allegheny’s pitching success extends beyond those three hurlers. Sophomore right-hander Nico Varlotta threw a no-hitter in a 5-0 win against Allderdice on April 20. It was the first seven-inning, complete-game no-hitter by a North Allegheny pitcher since 2012. The Tigers surrendered only one run to Allderdice while sweeping the three-game series.

“It’s kind of just trying to figure out things and prepare for playoff baseball. That’s the biggest thing,” Heck said. “In the playoffs, it’s one game and done. Having four guys, it’s awesome. At the end of the day, we’ll probably be using one or two of those guys as relievers [in the playoffs].”

Some of the top relievers, Heck said, have been senior right-hander Brett McSparran, junior right-hander Greg Schmidt, and junior left-handers Charles Mau and Cole Suba.

And it looks like the rich could get richer, with Heck saying that senior right-hander Cam Ward could return to action as soon as next week. Heck said that Ward might have been the Tigers’ top starter before suffering a UCL injury last April, one that ended his season. Ward is a Gannon recruit.

North Allegheny isn’t a juggernaut offensively — the Tigers average 5.7 runs a game, and Heck said the production comes and goes — but if the pitching continues to be lights out, this team could add to its record eight WPIAL titles later this month.

“I believe if we can get 1, 2 or 3 runs, we have the pitching staff that can win the game,” Hart said. “If our hitting and pitching are good, we could very well be WPIAL champions and make a long run in the state playoffs.”

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at