Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cougars Catcher Enjoying Final Run

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cougars Catcher Enjoying Final Run

Article excerpt

It's the little things that Matt Emge is going to miss ... things such as "Halo Night."

That's when members of the Blackhawk High School baseball team would gather at the Chippewa Township home of its senior catcher and play the popular video game.

"We set up four Xboxes [gaming systems] and have 16 guys play," Emge said. "And it gets competitive.

"We have a lot of fun together, on and off the field. I'm going to miss these guys. I'm going to miss the camaraderie we have."

Bound for Ohio State in the fall to continue his baseball career for the Buckeyes, Emge played a key role in the Cougars (20-2) capturing a Section 1-AAA title en route to making the WPIAL Class AAA championship game for the first time since 2007.

The Cougars will play Belle Vernon Area tonight at 7 in the title game at Consol Energy Park near Washington. That game had been scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed by inclement weather. Win or lose, their season will continue next week in the PIAA tournament.

"Most of the seniors have been playing together since eighth grade," said Emge, who will play for the 18-and-under Ohio Warhawks based out of Springfield, Ohio, this summer. "We've built up that camaraderie into a championship team.

"The camaraderie and the fact that the seniors brought a lot of experience is a big reason for our success. We won a lot of close games and that's because we know how to play as a team. We have a bunch of veterans who can pick one another up."

A 6-foot-2, 230-pound four-year starter, Emge batted .409 with five doubles, two home runs and 26 RBIs through Blackhawk's WPIAL semifinal victory, a 1-0, nine-inning affair against Thomas Jefferson last week. He also recorded an on-base percentage of .524 and picked off five base runners, defensively.

"Matt is an outstanding catcher," Blackhawk coach Bob Amalia said. "He's a tremendous receiver, blocker and he calls a great game.

"He's a great hitter, but he's better defensively. When you move things around during scrimmages and bring in other catchers, you see it firsthand how valuable he is behind the plate. …

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