Tyler Maddix had experienced winning a WPIAL championship before, only he doesn’t recall too much about it.
Maddix was just 6 years old when he watched from the bleachers as his father, Andy, guided North Allegheny to the Class 4A title in 2013.
“I remember going on the field a little bit, but that’s really it,” Maddix said. “I was a small kid. I have a picture of myself out here with my brothers, like right here. It’s awesome.”
Ten years later and at the same ballpark, it was Tyler who led his team to a title, not as a coach, but as a player.
It’s safe to say the now 16-year-old will fondly remember this one for a long time.
Maddix pitched six strong innings, struck out eight and scored a pair of runs to lead Bishop Canevin to its first WPIAL title since 2000 by defeating California, 8-5, in the WPIAL Class 1A championship Wednesday at Wild Things Park.
Canevin (15-3), which doesn’t have any seniors, claimed its 13th win in a row and third WPIAL title all time. The No. 6-seeded Crusaders prevented No. 4 California (14-8) from winning its seventh title. California also saw its seven-game win streak come to a halt.
A sophomore left-hander, Maddix improved to 8-1 on the season after giving up three runs (two earned), four hits and three walks before being removed at the end of the sixth inning after reaching the 105-pitch limit. His eight strikeouts actually tied a season low, as crazy as that sounds. He has now punched out a whopping 117 in 50⅓ innings and has given up only 18 hits.
“He gave us everything he had,” Bishop Canevin coach Bill Varley said.
Maddix was a bit shaky in the bottom of the first inning after Canevin took advantage of two California errors to take a 2-0 lead. Mason Glover singled in a run and Maddix scored on a wild pitch. On the mound, Maddix allowed the first three California hitters to reach base via a walk, double and hit batsman. Kris Weston followed with a sacrifice fly to put California on the board. But despite issuing a second walk, Maddix got out of the inning allowing just the one run.
“It’s been one of those weird years where not many guys hit the ball off Tyler, so when they do, it puts him in a different zone,” Varley said. “Today, when they hit the ball a little bit off him, he kept his cool and kept his poise, and just kept throwing strikes.”
This strikeout artist went on to paint a masterpiece over the next three innings, setting California down in order each time, including a second inning in which he struck out the side.
In the meantime, Canevin began gaining some separation. Errors hurt California severely in the game, as the Trojans committed five overall. Three of them came in the fourth when Canevin pushed two more runs across to increase its lead to 4-1. Aidan Didion had an RBI single and Lucas Golembiewski scored on a throwing error.
“I was so excited for everyone involved in it,” said Maddix. “It gave me a lot of confidence in myself just to go out and pitch.”
That lead increased to 7-1 in the fifth following run-scoring singles from Quentin White, Kellan Andruscik and Golembiewski. California then got a run back in the bottom of the inning when Cam Scrip scored on an error.
After the teams exchanged runs in the sixth — Andruscik had a sacrifice fly for Canevin and Cicchitto scored on a fielder’s choice for California — Canevin held an 8-3 lead and appeared to be coasting toward the finish line. But the Trojans made things interesting against Kole Olszewski, Canevin’s other standout sophomore pitcher who came on in relief of Maddix.
All of California’s damage in the bottom of the seventh came with two outs. After hitting a batter and walking another, Olszewski, who won a WPIAL football title at Canevin his freshman year, gave up a two-run double to Cicchitto which made it 8-5. After Weston reached on an error, Cicchitto and Weston moved up to second and third following a passed ball. But with two outs and the tying run at the plate, Olszewski got Brody Todd to ground out to end the game.
“Kole’s money. I knew he had it. It was just a matter of getting ahead of a hitter and letting him work it,” Varley said.
Olszewski was also money offensively, finishing 3 for 5 with a pair of runs scored. Maddix, Glover, White and Didion all added two hits for the Crusaders. Andruscik had two RBIs.
Afterward, Maddix stood on the same field as he did a decade earlier, celebrating another WPIAL title. As for his plans to celebrate when he left Wild Things Park?
“I actually have to go to my brother’s graduation, so I’m just going to be sitting there for a while,” Maddix said in reference to his brother, Sean, who is graduating from Chartiers Valley. “But other than that, I’ve got some cake at home.”