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May 29—Batting cleanup comes with added responsibility in any baseball lineup, but there’s a little extra burden for North Allegheny’s No. 4 hitter.

He’s got to make teams pay a price for avoiding No. 3 batter Cole Young, a Duke recruit and one of the WPIAL’s top juniors. Tigers senior Danny Gallon has thrived in that role this season batting a team-best .459.

“He’s embraced it all year long,” NA coach Andrew Heck said. “I told him early on, here’s what to expect, here’s what you’re going to have. He’s really done a great job.”

A 6-foot-2 first baseman with a knack for doubles, Gallon has fueled a hot-hitting offense that’s averaged more than eight runs per game and led North Allegheny to the WPIAL finals.

In the semifinals alone, Gallon went 3 for 4 with and RBI and scored three times. That gave him 22 RBIs and 24 runs in 22 games.

“I’d say he’s been our MVP with the bat so far this postseason,” Heck said.

That success has come from keeping a simple approach at the plate. Yes, there’s added pressure batting fourth, Gallon said, but it’s a job he enjoys.

“It is a tough spot,” he said. “In the four hole, everyone is focused on you. But I just step up to the plate, calm my nerves and try to hit it up the middle. I try not to do too much.”

Cole, who’s among the state’s top recruits in 2022, ranks second on the team with a .431 average, but he’s also been walked a team-high 22 times. Butler intentionally walked him once in the semifinals.

“We’ve kind of done a lot of this postseason without too many big hits from Cole in a sense,” Heck said. “If we can get him going a little bit, that’s really going to open even more for us.”

Gallon’s approach at the plate fits Heck’s philosophy perfectly. The fifth-year coach asks his players for quality at-bats, and his team has answered.

As a group, the Tigers have 195 hits, 120 walks and 108 strikeouts. They’ve got a .337 team batting average and a .465 on-base percentage.

The Tigers had 10 runs on 15 hits against Butler.

“We’re looking to put good at-bats together, and that’s what we preach,” Heck said. “Good at-bats. If we’re walking, it’s because we’re battling with two strikes and working the count. Yeah, we want to swing the bats.”

Gallon has one of the best two-strike approaches on the team, Heck said, and has worked to be a better hitter, especially when facing off-speed pitches.

“He knew he had to get better on the breaking balls,” Heck said. “Now, he knows he’s going to get breaking balls. He’s doing a great job hitting them and everything else.”

That’s earned Gallon 11 walks to only eight strikeouts. But he, like his teammates, doesn’t step to the plate hoping to walk.

“Throughout the year, our plate appearances have become better,” said Gallon, who’s seen the lineup get more aggressive. “Every time we’re up there, we’re trying to hit.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at or via Twitter .