Championship Breakdown

No lead in, we are getting right down to the business. The time we have all been waiting for has finally come, and let’s get into our Championship Breakdown.

 

1A champ

The rubber match. These section rivals face off for one final WPIAL contest this season, and my oh my will it be one to see. Union took game one 9-8 in dramatic fashion over the Royals. Two weeks later, VA responded with a 4-3 victory of their own. Now, the top two seeded teams in 1A will play for the conference crown.

Both teams feature several of the WPIAL’s most talented bats. Vincentian is home to Kyler Fedko, a UCONN commit who holds a .614 batting average, hit a league leading 6 homers, knocked in 33 RBI’s, and scored 30 runs. On the other side is the dynamic duo of Matt Costello and Tyler Benedict. Costello hit .571 with 19 runs, and struck out 33 hitters on the bump. Benedict raked .463 with 20 RBI’s and 21 runs. Two high flying offenses means a very exciting ball game is coming.

Both teams scored 13 runs in their previous postseason contests. However, the biggest difference in their playoff statistics is Vincentian has yet to give up a run, while Union has surrendered 7. The Scotties scrapped their way past Monessen enroute to a semi final bid, and this early scare showed their susceptible to allowing a good offense to do some major damage.

My Prediction: I am taking the Vincentian Royals to be crowned as the 1A champions. The Royals have been atop of the conference rankings all year long, and I expect them to finish there. VA – 6, Union – 4.

 

3A champ

Another conference championship where the top two seeds will be battling for the gold. Serra has dominated all season long, and it is no surprise to anyone that the Eagles have flown their way to Washington. CWNC has arguably been just as successful. The Trojans do have five losses on the year, but four of them have come against teams in higher classifications. CWNC is on fire winning 9 of their last 11, and they are searching for one more.

It would be hard breaking down this matchup without discussing Mark Black. The St. Johns commit just missed taking home the WPIAL triple crown, slashing .629, 5 homers, and 42 RBI’s. He was also second in the league with 35 runs. In front of him was teammate Zack Bowen. Oh yeah, and behind Black in third place was another teammate, Ben Bowen. Moral of the story here is Serra Catholic is a dominant force in 2A, and knows exactly what to do to win ball games.

CWNC is hoping to utilize their talent on the bump to quiet the Eagles bats. CWNC has a three headed monster pitching staff who have all put together incredible seasons. Alex Hoehn was 5-0 with 39 k’s during the regular season, Joe Alampi was 4-1, and Ryan Feczko struck out 51 hitters. The Trojans can score with the best of them as well, but what is really intriguing to me is how they will go about maneuvering their way through Serra’s lineup with their power arms.

My Prediction: I can’t go against Serra Catholic. The Eagles have been too good for too long, and I think they take home the gold here. Mark Black and the Bowen boys are going to have a hell of a day. Give me Serra – 6, CWNC – 2.

 

2A champ

The Brownsville Falcons are playing for the top spot in 3A. That is something I did not think I would be saying, not because of their talent, but rather because they had to get through Riverside in the process. The Falcons defeated the Panther powerhouse 6-5 in the Final Four and proved they were a team made for the big moments. Avonworth had a much different showing in the semis. The Lopes downed South Side Beaver 13-2, in a dominant showing against the 3 seed. Avonworth has won 6 straight, and look ready to be crowned the 3A champion.

The Lopes are headed by a fantastic pitching combination of Ryan Felter and Turner Grau. Brownsville has a stud arm of their own in Dylan Brosky. Brosky is 5-1 with 62 strikeouts on the season, ranking him fifth in the WPIAL.

My Prediction: I really like Avonworth here. I think the Lopes are due, and have had the talent all season long to pull off an incredible playoff run. This one is going to be a low scoring affair with a final score of 3-2.

 

4A champ

How about a conference where the top two seeds did not even make the final four! Early eliminations for Blackhawk and Knoch led to Ringgold and South Fayette powering their way to the top of 4A. Ringgold arrives to the title game after defeating New Castle 8-3, and Greensburg Salem 7-3. South Fayette dominated as well, winning 1-0 against a very talented West Mifflin team, and 14-4 against the Hopewell Vikings.

South Fayette is a very complete team. The Lions feature a .500 hitter in Ryan Kokoski, and also have Tyler Bedillion and Richie Dell who have combined for 9 wins and only two losses on the bump. But, Ringgold has Ryan Varley. Varley is what I would consider a hidden gem in the WPIAL world of baseball. The Alderson Broaddus commit is undefeated as a pitcher, hosting a .400 record. He has crushed his competition all season long, and he fits the Western PA-blue collared persona to a T.

My Prediction: I am rolling with the Lions in 4A. I love watching Varley play, but I think at the end of the day South Fayette is going to be too much to handle. Final score SF – 2, Ringgold – 0.

 

5A champ

Mars and North Hills. It might be shocking to some, but we could see these two teams arriving at this point all year long. Mars got off to a very rough start to their season, but flipped the switch at the perfect time. The Planets have won 8 straight leading up the Finals, and are one game away from taking home the gold. North Hills has absolutely owned their competitors thus far in the postseason. The Indians eliminated Franklin Regional 7-1, and proceeded to knock out West A 11-4.

In our opinion, North Hills is one of the deepest teams around the area. They have 3 guys hitting over .450, an offensive juggernaut that can score any time they want, and a 4-1 pitcher with 46 strikeouts named Joey Pusateri. They hold a record of 19-3, but one of those losses came in a 9-0 fashion at the hands of the Planets. Mars has three D1 pitching commits, the main story though is Will Bednar. We talked about him all season long, and rightfully so. The Junior is already committed to Ohio State, and struck out 76 batters during the year, putting him second in the WPIAL. Bednar has two playoff starts this year, and has only given up one run.

My Prediction: We predicted this 5A final, and took North Hills to come out on top, but today we are changing that answer. The Bednar train is coming, and the Indians are going to have to play superb to get out of it’s way. This is going to be the premier championship matchup, and both teams are more than deserving to have made it this far. I am taking Mars – 2, North Hills – 1.

 

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Canon Mac vs North Allegheny is a matchup that no one could have seen coming. We have been saying all year long that the Big Macs mean business, and they showcased their ability taking down Norwin, Plum, and Central Catholic. All three of those teams are loaded with talent and Canon Mac moved past them with ease. North Allegheny is by far the biggest surprise of the WPIAL playoffs. The 10th seeded Tigers upset Penn Trafford, Bethel Park, and Hempfield on their way to the championship.

Canon Mac has a true ace in Zach Rohaley. The Wheeling Jesuit commit finished the regular season 6-1, and struck out 61 batters in the process. The Big Macs can swing it too, with multiple contributors who will threaten the Tigers throughout the game. NA’s run has been fueled by an impressive offense. In three postseason games, on average the Tigers are posting 5 runs. Those are tough numbers to maintain, and even tougher ones to try and keep up with.

My Prediction: I am picking Canon Mac over North Allegheny here. The Big Macs are tough, battle tested, and ready to be #1. CM – 4, NA – 0.

 

P.S. Fans, make sure you get to Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday, because these games are going to be instant classics…

Playoff Rundown

Then there were 12…

The final games are set for each classification, and the first three rounds of this year’s WPIAL playoffs did not disappoint. Before we breakdown the championship matchups for you, we wanted to take a look back at everything that occurred leading up to this extraordinary moment.

 

1A

1A bracket

We thought there was a high probability that 1A would end up with the higher seeds making their way to the title game. In fact, there was only one seeding upset in the entire slate of games, and it came from defending champ, Jeannette, and their 5-3 extra inning victory over Quigley. The Jayhawks, and their new opponent G.C.C., battled their way to the final four. But, once they got there, the top two seeds were just too much to handle. Vincentian and Union seemed as if they were destined to meet once again, but for all of the marbles this time.

 

2A

2A bracket

It seems like all year long this conference has been about Serra Catholic. They have been utterly dominant, but there are multiple story lines outside of the Eagles incredible season that need to be highlighted. We thought Shenango had the chance to be a major sleeper team in this scenario, and they answered that call stealing two wins away from Canevin and Carmichaels. Brentwood shocked many with an 8-2 rout over 6 seeded Char Houston. We knew the top three seeds were all powerhouses and would have a really tough time getting knocked out. You will be able to see our breakdown of the Serra vs CWNC matchup shortly.

 

3A

3A bracket

We only had one prediction wrong in this entire set, and oh my was it a major one. #4 seed, Brownsville, was able to knock off the 3A top-dog – Riverside. The Side played at a different level all year long, and everyone thought they would run away with the WPIAL title, but the Falcons said no. Brownsville controlled the ball game from the start. The Panthers rallied and fought with everything they had, but in the end fell 6-5. The big story on the flip side of the bracket was not Avonworth’s domination to the final, but instead a very exciting first round matchup. Shady Side Academy was in a gritty contest against Waynesburg before Mother Nature intervened. The Umpires took over and ended the game two innings early. Waynesburg was threatening with an excellent opportunity to regain the lead and propel them into the next round. These drastic circumstances provoke the question as to whether or not the WPIAL should enforce the rule that all playoff games must complete the entire 7 inning slate. As stated in our bio, we are not directly affiliated with the WPIAL and have absolutely no say in the rulemaking process, but we think some positive adaptations can be created.

 

4A

4A bracket

4A was crazy! Greensburg Salem did not just prove us wrong once, but they pulled off the biggest upset the WPIAL has seen all season long. The 8 ran through South Park, and top seeded Blackhawk, en route to a final four appearance. Their two victories occurred in very different manners as well, one they swung the bats and plated 8, the other they scrounged together a single run in 9 innings. On the flip side, Hopewell had similar success. We expected them to win one on the back of ace Joe Rock, but after they were done with Belle Vernon they sent Knoch home as well. As a side note for this conference, two of our favorite teams, New Castle and West Mifflin fought their way through incredible seasons that we were sad to see end so soon. New Castle’s fan base created a media frenzy any time we did not fully support them, which made the Canes’ matchups ones we were very intrigued with. Ben Visnesky was an absolute workhorse all season long, and we are pumped to see what he can accomplish in the future.

 

5A

5A bracket

There was not a ton of deception in the future for these 13 teams. We knew Mars was capable of a huge run, we knew North Hills would be right there with them, but the outlier was Hampton as they shined throughout the process. The Talbots handled two very talented teams on their way to the semis. They defeated #9 Gateway 4-2, and #1 Moon 9-1. If it weren’t for Will Bednar being such a stud, they might be competing for gold this week. We were extremely intrigued with the offensive juggernaut battle between North Hills and West A in the Final Four. the game ended with 15 total runs, but the Indians of North Hills handled business plating 11 of them. In fact, 5A featured a ton of high scoring performances, with 8 teams putting up 6 or more runs during the contests.

 

6A

6A bracket

Ok, now I don’t think anyone could have seen this coming. We had Canon Mac, but North Allegheny?! Don’t get me wrong, NA is always a force to be reckoned with and the Tigers easily had the talent at the start of the season to pull something incredible like this off. But, being the 10 seed, losing 3 of the last 4 regular season games, matching up against a 17-4 Bethel Park Squad, and losing arguably the most talented player on their roster to suspension, the stars did not look like they were aligning for the Tigers. Our predicted winner of the entire thing lost 9-1 in the quarter finals. Pine Richland was not able to maintain their talent on paper, and had a very tough time getting all of the cogs to work as one in order to find success. #1 seed Central Catholic showed their dominance in a 6-0 victory over Butler. Marshall McGraw put together a masterful no-hit performance, and showcased why he is one of the WPIAL’s finest pitchers. Canon Mac handled business three times just like we thought they would, and proved that you do not want to see the Big Macs in May.

 

Make sure you subscribe to our blog on the left side of the screen in order to stay up to date on all WPIAL Baseball information. Follow us on social media, @wpial_baseball and check in with us later when we publish our breakdowns for all 6 of the championship games!

Round 2 Breakdown

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  • #1 vs #8. We are on board for both of these fan buses for different reasons. Vincentian has dominated their way to a 13-4 record, while Cornell has shocked many on their way to completing the regular season at 10-4. Cornell comes off of a 5-0 victory over West Greene, but I am afraid the run will be cut short on Monday. The Royals are too strong of a team, and the Raiders will have trouble keeping pace with them. I am taking Vincentian in a 7-2 victory.

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  • This will be a major game to watch in 1A. Both of these teams are extremely tough to beat, and will not go down without a fight. Monessen arrives at round 2 with a 11-6 record after defeating Western Beaver 2-0. We suspected that contest to be a very exciting one, and the Greyhounds did not leave us disappointed. Now, they will go up against the 12-3,  #2 overall seed, Union Scotties. This Union team is really strong, and we are predicting them to ride the road all the way to Consol. I’m taking Union in a 4-3 win over the Greyhounds.

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  • G-C-C, G-C-C, G-C-C, you will be hearing that chant often in this one because we think the Centurions should have no problem moving onto the final four. Don’t get me wrong, Eden is a very talented team. Their lineup can score it with the best of them, as they showcased their ability in a 12-4 win over Rochester last round. But, GCC is 12-5, battle tested, and fully capable of making a deep playoff run. Give me the Rice brothers at GCC – 6, Eden 3.

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  • So far with our 1A predictions, we have chosen the chalk to sweep the quarter finals. In this one, we are rolling with the underdog. The Jeannette Jayhawks are the defending WPIAL champs and enter this matchup after defeating Leechburg 2-0. Jeannette has a very deep and talented pitching staff that could carry them a long way. Quigley comes in having won 13 straight and their only loss was to #1 team in 2A (Serra Catholic). The Spartans have had an exceptional season, but we like the Jayhawks moving on to the Semis after winning this one 3-1.

2A

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  • Serra Catholic is 19-1. A ridiculous 19-1, where there only loss came against the 3A powerhouse that is the Avonworth Antelopes. The Eagles have an awesome pitching staff and a deep lineup that is headed by St. John’s commit Mark Black. Black is a pretty good ball player, I mean he only hit .629 this year, with 5 bombs, and led the WPIAL with 42 RBIs. I guess that’s ok… If you are getting the gist of this sarcasm, we are picking the Eagles to win this one. Final score, 7-1, Serra will play in the Semis.

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  • We predicted a Shenango upset in round 1 and they slipped past Canevin in a dramatic, extra inning fashion. Now, they will take on the Mighty Mikes of Carmichaels who are an impressive 11-5. Shenango has been very hot as of late, but we think that streak will end right here. We are taking the Mikes in a 5-4 victory and look forward to a potential showdown vs Serra Catholic in the Semis.

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  • Carlynton enters this match after a high flying performance against California in round 1. The Cougars put up an impressive 14 runs en route to the victory, and will need to reproduce those statistics if they want to knock out North Catholic. CWNC is 15-5, and if were not for Serra Catholic being so strong, they would easily be the team to beat in 2A. I expect them to move onto the final four and beat the Cougars 5-1.

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  • The 17-3 Lancers will take on the 2A underdog, Brentwood Spartans. The Spartans caught us sleeping last week when we picked them to go down against Chartiers Houston. Not only did they win to get to the Elite Eight, but they dismantled their opponent in an 8-2 fashion. I am sorry Spartan fans, but I am picking against you once again. Give me Neshannock here, 6-3. The Lancers are always a dominant conference force, and I think they find their way back into the final four.

 

3A

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  • I said it last week and I’ll say it again, you do not want to play Steel Valley this time of year. The Ironmen know how to win playoff games. Period. They destroyed Charleroi 15-0 in a measly 3 inning contest. This time, they go up against the powerhouse that is Riverside. The Panthers have been dominant all season long and are our pick to take home the gold in 3A. Our prediction, Riverside – 6, Steel Valley – 5. I have to take the stronghold here, but I am telling you this will be an exciting ball game and the Ironmen will not go down without a fight.

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  • 12-2 Brownsville faces off against 11-6 Valley in this battle. Valley enters after barely getting past Beaver Falls 7-5 in last round. I expect them to have a lot of trouble here against a very talented Brownsville program. Brownsville will win 7-2, and move onto the Final Four.

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  • Avonworth vs Shady Side Academy. SSA was our sleeper pick in last round, and they answered with a crazy 6-5 victory over Waynesburg. The game was called after the 5th inning due to rain and SSA was awarded a bid into the Elite Eight. Now, they will have to take on the 14-4 Antelopes. I am predicting an Avonworth victory here by a score of 9-2. The Lopes are moving on.

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  • This contest is up there with the Riverside/Steel Valley game in terms of excitement. I think both of these teams are extremely talented, and will not be surprised at all if Burrell pulls off the upset. They come off a 12-5 rout over Mt. Pleasant, but I have to pick the latter in this one and roll with South Side Beaver. The Rams are 12-4 this season after playing in the most competitive section 3A has to offer. They are battle tested and craving a rematch against their Rival (Avonworth) in the Final Four. Rams win 5-4.

 

4A

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  • We have talked about Blackhawk a ton this season, and rightfully so. They have two of the best players not just in 4A, but in the entire WPIAL in Turconi and McClymonds. They support a 16-1 overall record, and are by far the team to beat in 4A. With that being said, we have to talk about Greensburg Salem. An 8-2 win over a very talented South Park team was eye-opening, and now, they are playing their best baseball at the most crucial time of year. They have won 6 straight and will need to bring their A+ game to get past the Cougars. We still have to take Blackhawk in this one, by a score of 5-1, but do not be surprised if GS turns this one into a classic.

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  • Last week was awesome and let me tell you why. For the first time all season the New Castle fans, were my fans!! They did not through any shade, there was no hate present, and they loved me showing support for the #CanesCuz. Well New Castle fans, it is time to start the beef once more, because I am picking Ringgold here. Ringgold is 14-3, and Ryan Varley is one of the most underrated talents in the entire WPIAL. New Castle has made me a believer this year, but the Rams are too good and will win this one 6-4.

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  • The Knights of Knoch are 14-3 and one of the premier teams in the conference. Hopewell enters this contest after defeating Belle Vernon 3-1. We predicted this upset in large part due to the talent of Joe Rock on the bump. The Knights bring a different kind of talent in this one, and I think they will be too much for the Vikings to handle. Knock will move onto the final four winning this one 4-0.

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  • Only a few teams have given Blackhawk a run for their money this year. One of those squads was the South Fayette Lions, and they did it twice. Other sources in the area have picked them to take home the gold, and after a 14-5 year, they could match up with the Cougars in Consol once again. This round, they play West Mifflin, a gritty team who has excelled on the back of their ace, Ben Visnesky. This is going to be a thrilling back-and-forth contest, but I have to take the Lions to come out victorious. Score, South Fayette – 3, West Mifflin – 1.

 

5A

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  • #1 Moon takes on #8 Hampton in this Quarterfinal matchup. The Talbots enter after a walk off two run bomb from William and Mary commit, Phil Conti. Conti and the rest of the talented Talbot lineup will get to face off against one of 5A’s best arms, Dayton commit Nick Maue. Both of these teams run deep with talent, but I am taking the Tigers here. Moon is going to win this one 5-4, and move on to the Final Four.

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  • This is THE game to watch in the second round. The Mustangs and their high powered offense will get the opportunity to go up against the stud that is Will Bednar. The Ohio State commit put together another masterful performance in a 2-1 win over Trinity. That game was a little too close for our liking, but we still think the Planets will win this one and move onto the Final Four. Mars is an extremely talented team that is playing their best ball of the year right now. Final score: Mars – 3, LH – 2.

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  • We picked against the likes of the Colts last round, and they responded by destroying Latrobe 12-2. This round, they will face off against section foe, West Allegheny. West A swept the season series thus far, winning the respective contests 4-1 and 2-0. We expect more of the same in this one, with the Indians defeating the Colts 5-2. The #2 seed will play in the final four on Wednesday.

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  • North Hills is one of our favorite teams in this conference. They are loaded with talent, and that will be showcased prominently when they take on Franklin Regional this Tuesday. The Panthers moved into the Semis after taking down Montour 11-2. Franklin showed they can score it with the best of them, but I think that run stops here. Give us North Hills, 6-1. The Indians are moving onto the Final Four.

 

6A

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  • #1 Central Catholic faces off against #8 Butler. The Vikings are 14-4, and were crowned the champs of the toughest section this conference has to offer. They absolutely deserved the #1 seed, but I am picking Butler to pull off the upset. This contest is going to feature two of the best arms in the WPIAL. Marshall McGraw leads the entire slate with a 9-0 record. Butler’s ace, Connor Ollio, is a UNC recruit that already has one playoff gem under his belt. I have to side with Ollio in this battle. As superb as McGraw has been, I think Ollio lives for these moments, and will shine in the spotlight. Butler – 3, CC – 2.

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  • 14-5 Bic Macs, 16-4 Mustangs. This one is going to be fun to watch. One of the WPIAL Baseball Games to Watch, we expect big things to go down. This is a coin flip where either team could win, and could take their talents all the way to Consol. I have to side with the Big Macs here in a 5-4 fashion over Plum. As I said before, Canon Mac is one of the toughest teams to beat this time of year, and I would stay away if I could.

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  • #2 Seeded Bethel Park takes on the University of North Allegheny. NA pulled off an upset over a very talented Penn Trafford team a week ago. The Tigers enter this contest with 11-10 record, but will have their hands full with the 17-3 Hawks headed their way. I am 100% siding with Bethel here, and predict the victorious score of 7-1.

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  • The Rams are rolling. Pine Richland knocked out Peters in a 5-1 fashion in round 1, and will now go up against a 15-5 Hempfield squad. Hempfield is a legit competitor who has the capabilities of making a deep, deep, playoff run, but Pine has some absolute STUDS on their squad. We are taking the talent here, and picking the Rams to continue their streak in a 7-5 fashion. Pine will move on to the Semis.

Round 1 Breakdown

1A

Cornell vs West Greene

Location: Peterswood Park, 4:00

Date: 5/16

  • I really like this Raider team. Blackstone heads a strong staff that has paved the way  for a 9-4 record. West Greene has faced their own challenges this year holding a below .500 record heading into this matchup. I am taking Cornell in a 5-2 battle, and the Raiders will move on to face #1 seeded Vincentian.

 

Jeannette vs Leechburg

Location: Fox Chapel, 2:00  

Date: 5/15

  • Jeannette should have no problem here. I think the Jayhawks are one of the most talented teams in 1A, and the defending champs’ 11-3 overall record supports that claim. Leechburg enters the contest at 4-10, and I think Jeannette’s talent will be overwhelming, resulting in a 9-0 victory. The Jayhawks will face off against Quigley in the Elite Eight.

 

Monessen vs Western Beaver

Location: Burkett Park, 2:00  

Date: 5/15

  • One of the WPIAL Baseball Games To Watch for Round 1. Monessen 10-6, Western Beaver 9-7, these two squads will create a very competitive matchup. This game could be described as a coin flip in many senses, but I think Monessen has the upper hand and will be able to skid past Round 1 in a 5-4 victory. They will move on to face Union in Round 2.  

 

Eden Christian vs Rochester

Location: Shaler, 2:00

Date: 5/15

  • The battle of the 7-7’s. Both of these .500 ball clubs have had sporadic seasons on their path to the playoffs. I hate picking against Rochester because they are always a scrappy group of grinders that prove people wrong, but once again I have to pick the latter. I am taking Eden in a 7-5 win, and they will move on to face G.C.C. on the 21st.

 

2A

Fort Cherry vs Laurel

Location: Chippewa Park, 2:00

Date: 5/15

  • Honestly, I like both of these teams, a lot. Fort Cherry has been a bit of a surprise this season, but has constructed a 10-5 record on their way to taking second place in Section 1. Laurel competed in the toughest group 2A has to offer, and scrapped their way to a 11-5 season. Fort Cherry has been able to pull out some very close games and I suspect them to win this one as well by a score of 4-3.

 

Shenango vs Canevin

Location: Chippewa Park, 4:30

Date: 5/15

  • Shenango is my sleeper pick for 2A. They were in the group of death as well and gathered a 12-7 record in the process, while winning 6 of their last 9 contest. Canevin is no slouch, and will 100% make this a competitive ball game, but I think Shenango moves on to play Carmichaels winning their first round matchup 7-4.

 

Carlynton vs California

Location: Burkett Park, 7:00

Date: 5/15

  • This is a tale of two very different teams. California has always been atop the 2A ranks, and had a bit of a disappointing season finishing 9-7. Carlynton surprised many en route to a 12-4 record, and if it was not for the powerhouse that is Serra Catholic, they would have only had a couple of losses on their resume. I think the Trojans are capable of an upset, but taking Carlynton to move on and face CWNC after beating California 5-2.

 

Chartiers Houston vs Brentwood

Location: Burkett Field, 4:30

Date: 5/15

  • Chartiers Houston enters the matchup with a 12-8 record, and should have no problem taking down 10-6 Brentwood. An intriguing second round contest featuring Char. Hou. and Neshannock will occur after a 7-2 victory in Round 1.

 

3A

Steel Valley vs Charleroi

Location: Boyce Mayview, 2:00

Date: 5/15

  • Another WPIAL Baseball Game to Watch for Round 1, both of these teams enter with very successful seasons thus far. Charleroi is an incredible, 11-5, while Steel Valley is just 10-7, but it is very hard to pick against the Ironmen come playoff time. I think this is going to be a 8-6 shootout, but Steel Valley will prevail to take on #1 seeded Riverside.

 

Valley vs Beaver Falls

Location: Shaler, 4:30

Date: 5/15

  • Beaver Falls has had a lot of success this season, but Valley is a talented team that will have no problem punching through the first round. Valley – 8, Beaver Falls – 2.

 

Waynesburg vs Shady Side Academy

Location: Peterswood Park, 6:30

Date: 5/16

  • I like an upset in this one. Give me the Academy of Shady Side over Waynesburg Central by a score of 3-2. Shady Side was high on our list during the preseason and have finally figured out the level they are capable of playing at.

 

Burrell vs Mt Pleasant

Location: Latrobe, 4:30

Date: 5/16

  • I like this Burrell team and think they got jipped a bit by the WPIAL seeding. 9-3 overall, and #1 in Section 1, Burrell had a lot of success against several playoff caliber programs. I think this is a lock pick over Mt. Pleasant by a score of 6-1.

 

4A

Greensburg Salem vs South Park

Location: Gateway, 5/21

Date: 5/15

  • South Park has toyed with our emotions all season long. But now, on a major winning streak, they are one of our most dangerous teams in 4A. I like them pulling the upset over Greensburg Salem by a score of 9-2, and moving on to face the overpowering #1 seed, Blackhawk.

 

Freeport vs New Castle

Location: Seneca Valley, 4:30

Date: 5/15

  • New Castle fans don’t like us at all. All season long all we heard about is how we were sleeping on them, but after some major wins and a final stretch taking 6 of their last 8, we believe in the power of this upset. Freeport is a strong competitor, but we think the Castle will win 7-4 and move on to play Ringgold in round 2.

 

Belle Vernon vs Hopewell

Location: Hempfield, 4:30

Date: 5/15

  • This is THE game to watch in 4A without a doubt. Belle Vernon is a very talented team that is more than capable of making a deep playoff run, however they will go up against the likes of Joe Rock, a southpaw pitcher who is committed to play at Ohio University next season. I think the Vikings will skid past B.V. on their way to matching up against Knoch in the Elite Eight. Score: 4-2.

 

West Mifflin vs Deer Lakes

Location: Gateway, 6:30

Date: 5/15

  • West Mifflin all the way. Ben Visnesky is the truth, and he will get his squad into the Elite Eight without a problem. I think West Mifflin has the talent to go far this season, and am very intrigued by a second round matchup against South Fayette. Give me the Titans by a score of 6-0.

 

5A

Hampton vs Gateway

Location: Fox Chapel, 4:30

Date: 5/15

  • This is one everyone is going to want to see. The popular vote in our recent poll highlighted this as the first round game to watch in the entire WPIAL field. Both of these teams are extremely talented, but we are giving the slight edge to Hampton in this one. Hampton – 5, Gateway – 4, the Talbots move on to play #1 seeded Moon.

 

Mars vs Trinity

Location: Seneca Valley, 2:00

Date: 5/15

  • Will Bednar. That’s all you need to know for now about the Planets. Mars takes down Trinity 7-0 and moves on to the Elite Eight.

 

Laurel Highlands vs Fox Chapel

Location: Hempfield, 2:00

Date: 5/15

  • Laurel Highlands is one of the best teams in 5A, but did not get an easy draw matching up against Fox Chapel. L.H. will still come out on top by a score of 8-4, and will potentially face off against Mars in round 2.

 

Chartiers Valley vs Latrobe

Location: West Mifflin, 4:30

Date: 5/15

  • 9-7 CV takes on the likes of 11-9 Latrobe. This is another coin flip game that could easily go either way, but we like Latrobe to take this one home 6-4. Latrobe will move on to take on #2 seeded West Allegheny.

 

Franklin Regional vs Montour

Location: West Mifflin, 2:00

Date: 5/15

  • Franklin is good. 14-4, they are a very, VERY, dangerous 6 seed. Montour is solid, but will not be able to matchup in this one with F.R. They will win 7-2 and move on to play North Hills in the Elite Eight.

 

6A

Butler vs USC

Location: North Allegheny, 7:00

Date: 5/15

  • North Carolina commit Connor Ollio is a very gifted player that has paved the way for the Golden Tornadoes to shine this season. As a very dangerous 8 seed, I suspect them to take down USC 5-1, and move on to face off against section foe, Central Catholic, in round 2.

 

Canon Mac vs Norwin

Location: Boyce Mayview, 4:30

Date: 5/15

  • Canon Mac is one of our favorite teams in 6A, as you will see by our full bracket predictions. We expect them to make a very deep run, and their 13-5 record showcases their dominance. With that being said, you can never count Norwin out because they are always capable of putting together great streaks during this time of year. I think the Big Macs get the best of the Knights 5-2, and move on for a potential second round matchup vs the winner of Plum/Mt. Lebo.

 

Plum vs Mt. Lebo

Location: North Allegheny, 4:00

Date: 5/15

  • Plum is 15-4 and shown that they can compete with the best of them. We were high on Mt. Lebo early in the year, and on paper, thought they could be a very strong 6A squad. Lebo enters the contest with a record below the .500 mark, and the Mustangs will take full advantage of their disappointments. Plum wins 4-0.

 

Penn Trafford vs North Allegheny

Location: Latrobe

Date: 5/16

  • Colin Cain vs Josh Spiegel, a matchup a lot of us were looking forward to will no longer occur as Cain is suspended for the remainder of the season. His absence is a major blip in this team’s roster, and PT should be able to handle the Tigers in round 1. Penn Trafford – 5, North Allegheny – 3. PT will matchup against Bethel Park in the Elite Eight.

 

Pine Richland vs Peters Township

Location: Boyce Mayview, 7:00

Date: 5/15

  • The final game of our bracket breakdowns feature our potential champion in 6A. We are riding the Ram train all the way through Consol. Our consensus #1 Preseason pick has had their share of ups and downs this season, but winning 6 of their last 7 has once again shown their dominance. They will handle Peters with ease and take on Hempfield in round 2. Score, Pine – 8, Peters – 1.

 

 

2018 WPIAL Playoff First Impressions

It’s the best time of the year. Teams are getting hot at the perfect time, the best players are shining in the biggest moments, and the WPIAL Playoff Brackets have officially been released. This year, more than ever before, we are going to provide you with a significant amount of playoff information. During the upcoming days, you will see our in-depth breakdowns, games to watch, and other unique takes on everything that could possibly happen on the road to Consol.

For now, we are going to go conference by conference describing our opinions after a quick glance at the bracket. The breakdowns below are just our first impressions, but will be described in a heavier fashion later on.

Let’s get down to business, starting with 1A.

1A

  • Vincentian has been at the top of our list all season long, and rightfully so they are the top WPIAL seed. UCONN commit, Kyler Fedko, has been an absolute monster at the dish hitting at a ridiculous pace that makes him the most dominant force 1A has to offer.

    photos

  • Vincentian was handed a 9-8 loss earlier in the year to section rival, Union, who is one of our major teams to watch in this field of 12. However, Union will have a tough track to make it to the potential rematch. First, they would most likely have to get through the likes of Monessen, and then G.C.C., which are two squads that are very tough to beat.
  • Sleeper pick for this group is 100% Jeanette. The defending 1A WPIAL Champs put together an impressive 10 game win streak earlier in the year, and are easily capable of repeating for the gold. They are on a two game skid right now, taking L’s from GCC and Monessen, but a first round matchup against Leechburg should put them right back on track.
  • Our deep, deep, deep, sleeper is Cornell. The Raiders were highly overlooked all season long, and this Blackstone kid can really play ball. Cornell will have a tough road ahead going up against a solid West Greene team, and then the top dawg in Vincentian, but we like what we are seeing out of the Raiders this season.

2A

  • #3 Neshannock is phenomenal, #2 North Catholic is a group of absolute BALL PLAYERS, but it looks like no one can come close to taking down the powerhouse that is #1 Serra Catholic. Serra has one loss all season, and it came in a 4-3 fashion against one of the best teams in 3A (Avonworth). They are playing at a different level right now, and their 19-1 record shows what they are fully capable of, which is acquiring another gold medal.
  • If there is one Underdog team in this group I am taking Shenango. They got off to a bit of a rocky start this season, but finished out in a very strong fashion. I like their draw, and think they have more than enough talent to play for a medal in Washington.
  • We want, we want, we want a CWNC vs Neshannock final four contest. These section rivals have already gotten into two major battles earlier this season with CWNC coming out on top both times. I am not calling it now, but know that Neshannock could make a third matchup very intriguing if the oppurtunity presents itself.

3A

  • Honestly, while taking a quick glance at the 3A bracket I am pretty disappointed. There are several teams I really like out of this group and think they could scrap together a nice playoff run, however they are all on the same side this year. The heavy favorite is Riverside who has dominated on their path to a 15-1 record. But, they will have to go up against a winner of Steel Valley/Charleroi, two teams that are both very good and know how to win come playoff time, and then take down #4 seeded Brownsville who is 12-2 on the year and easily won section 3.
  • The WPIAL rewarded Avonworth and South Side Beaver for having to deal with Riverside twice a year, giving both teams the respective #2 and #3 seeds. Don’t get me wrong, I think Avonworth is the second best team in 3A, and should have no trouble making their way to Consol. I am very curious to see how SSB holds up.
  • Looking quickly at this field of 12, I could easily see it playing out in a chalk format. Higher seeds all the way through with the top two powerhouses battling for a third time this season under the bright lights of Consol Energy Park.

4A

  • I am all on board for the 4A playoffs. This group is as deep as you could ever imagine and will create some very entertaining ball games.
  • With that being said, Blackhawk is incredible. 16-1, 14-0 in section, two absolute studs in Turconi and McClymonds. It is going to be extremely tough to take these guys down.
  • You know how just above I said 3A will play out like chalk? Yeah, I am taking the latter for this conference. Give me South Park, give me New Castle, and throw in some Hopewell all to take games in round one from the higher seeds. You might call it crazy, but with this season I am calling it a comeback.
  • All three of these teams started off their seasons roughly. South Park was one of the top teams we had our eye on this preseason, and found their way back to playoff contention with an 8 game winning streak to finish the season. New Castle is a tough group of guys who really believe in their abilities this year. They started off section play 0-3, and answered that call going 9-2. Hopewell is very similar to our opinion of South Park: they have shown glimmers of greatness, but have also struggled mightily. I am a big believer in Joe Rock, Ohio commit, and think he can guide the Vikings towards the Elite Eight.

rock

5A

  • Moon had never once been #1 on our Power Rankings, they have gone up to as high as #2, but never controlled the top spot. The Tigers slid into the premier position by winning 13 of their last 15 contests. During that span, they handed West Allegheny their first loss, and beat the likes of 6A strongholds, Mt. Lebo and Norwin. Playoffs is a lot about pitching, and the Tigers have two Arms, Maue and Schoeneweis, who are more than capable of dominating a ball game.
  • After the Tigers, there are three teams that I would not bat an eye if they raised a WPIAL banner at the end of this season. Those squads are #3 North Hills, #4 Laurel Highlands, and #5 Mars. North Hills was the consensus #1 for majority of the season and hosts a 17-3 record. Laurel Highlands surprised us all on their way to a 15-3 season, but proved they are a fantastic ball club. And Mars, our preseason #1 that could not figure out how to win, ends their year on a 5 game dub streak. Like I said before that pitching is the key, Mars has two D1 arms controlling their staff, Bednar and Craska.
  • WPIAL Fans, if you want the best game to watch out of the entire lineup for May 15th, headover to Fox Chapel and watch #8 Hampton take on #9 Gateway. Two legit squads that have had awesome seasons.

6A

  • Vanderbilt, Penn State, Kent State. Three Major Division 1 programs who all have commits playing for none other than the Pine Richland Rams. And yet, PR is not the one seed and they failed to win their section. Instead, the top dawg is Central Catholic. The Vikings won their last 7 games, finishing with a 14-4 record in the toughest section in 6A.

pine

  • Now with that being said, Pine is still one of our MAJOR teams to watch out for. They are obviously battle tested at this point, and with that much raw talent in one lineup it is going to be a difficult team to beat. They would not have to matchup with Central until the finals, but wow would that make for a great WPIAL Championship.
  • One of the coolest stories of the year has been Bethel Park’s trek to the top. The #2 overall seed was not a highly touted team during the preseason, but Eastern Michigan commit, Justin Meis, has dominated Section 3 this season en route to a 17-3 record for the Hawks.
  • My favorite team to watch come playoff time are the Canon Mac Big Macs. Year in, and year out, their lineup is always filled with tough outs. They are grinders and know what to do in order to squeeze out tough ball games. This year, it is not just the lineup teams have to look out for. Their pitching staff has a huge presence on the mound that should contribute greatly towards their chances of making a deep playoff run.

These were just our first impressions and there will be a lot more playoff information coming your way! Make sure you hit the subscribe button on the left hand side of the screen, and continue to tune in on Twitter and Instagram @wpial_baseball to stay up to date on everything you need to know before the postseason officially gets underway!

Friday Feature – Josh Spiegel

Measurables. It’s a topic that is highly discussed in baseball when analyzing a player’s potential. Scouts love to highlight a stud’s ability to produce a fast 60 time, blow the cover off the ball with a great exit velo, and submit a pop-time below two seconds. Measurables and statistics are the backbone of scouting and recruiting, and have always been a gigantic part of our country’s pastime.

If you are searching across the baseball landscape of Western Pennsylvania you would not have to go very far to find a player who thrives in this category of the game. His name is Josh Spiegel.

spiegel catching

Josh is a catcher from Penn Trafford who has not only dominated the WPIAL competition, but also has found incredible success on a national scale. He has recorded a pop time as low as 1.8, hosts an exit velo well above the 90 mph mark, and as catcher is able to run a 6.7, 60. 

Spiegel tweet.png

I had the opportunity to sit down with Josh and talk to him about several different topics. Here is what he had to say.

Q : Let’s start by talking about your team at Penn Trafford this season. So far you guys have gotten off to a solid start in section play, and look like you are on the right track to be one of the top teams in section 2 by years end. What’s the mindset around the team right now, and what are the team’s goals for this season?  

J : Yeah, we have played pretty well through the first part of section play. We have some big tests coming up this week, but for our team we are just trying to take it one game at a time and have as much fun as possible while not trying to do too much. Our goals for this year is to win the section title, then make a good run in the playoffs and have a great chance to win a WPIAL championship.

Q : Four of your next five contests come against top 10 teams. What does your team have to do in order to be successful against the tough competition within your section?

J : For our team to have success against the tough competition we have to constantly focus on just grinding out at bats, putting runs up early, throwing strikes and always getting ahead of hitters. A major focus is with making our opponents hit our guys best out pitch, rather than getting a hold of a pitch the hitters are looking for. Our team has to always remain confident in ourselves knowing that we have a great all around team in every aspect of the game.

Q : Shifting the focus over to you personally now. What is your own focus this season? What do you expect from yourself and hope to achieve before you leave Penn Trafford?

J : I just want to focus on staying relaxed. I never want to put  too much pressure on myself and I know what I am capable of doing when I am in the right mindset. I want to win a section and wpial championship with my brothers as well. We are a very close team this year, and it would be something special to win it all my last year here with those guys.

Q : There is not too many WPIAL players who have gone to Oklahoma State like you will be this upcoming fall. What was the entire recruiting process was like for you, and what helped you make the decision to commit there?

J : The recruiting process was really great for me. I got the opportunity to visit a lot of amazing places, and meet some great coaches. What ultimately made me choose OSU was their staff. They are some of the best coaches in the country and it felt like home when I was there. I felt it was the best place for me to develop and hopefully make it to the major leagues afterwards.

Q : Speaking of the major leagues, you have been announced as a top prospect by platforms like Perfect Game, MLB Draft Pipeline etc., has there been any sort of insight provided to you about a potential draft position this year? Have you been talking to pro teams about going straight from high school, or do you think you will definitely be a Cowboy in the fall?

J : Yes I have talked to a some teams, and they have sent scouts out to watch me play this year. My first choice is to go to college, but if I do get drafted, I would talk it over with my parents and choose the option that is the best fit for me.

Q : Alright Josh, onto the most important part of this interview, the rapid fire around. You ready?

J : Absolutely! Let’s do it.

Q : If Josh Spiegel was stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one thing what would he bring?

J : Drinkable Water

Q : What future career would you want to be in excluding professional baseball?

J : That’s a tough one but I would love to be a GM one day.

Q : A GM for which team? Of who’s your favorite MLB team?

J : Any team at all, but my favorite are the hometown Pirates.

Q : If you were the Pirates GM would you have traded Cutch?

J : Looking at it now I think it was good for him, and the team, but I probably would have let him stay and maybe done it at the trade deadline.

Q : Switching gears to a really serious topic, what is your favorite meal?

J : Steak, mashed potatoes, and corn!

Q :What’s the number one thing you do in your free time?

J : I love to hunt and fish!

Q : Is there any last things you want to tell the WPIAL world, or make any shoutouts before we close it out?

J : Yes sir, thank you for picking me as your Friday Feature, I had a great time talking with you!

 

Make sure your follow us on Twitter and Instagram – @wpial_baseball – and continue to check in with our blog to see the most updated content on everything in the world of WPIAL Baseball. See you at Consol.

 

Week 4 – Games to Watch

We are officially into the fourth week of WPIAL baseball action. So far this season has been extremely exciting, with some surprise teams establishing their rank early in section play. Usually right around this time is when the true colors of each team start to show. Pretenders fall to the back, contenders rise to the opportunity, and the powerhouses assert their dominance.

Monday starts off hot with top 5 matchups in five of the six conferences, and a showdown between the top two squads in 3A, Riverside and Avonworth. Moving on 48 hours later, Wednesday plays host to the likes of undefeated 4A powerhouses, Freeport and Knoch. We are also very intrigued with the GCC/Jeanette matchup in 1A. The defending WPIAL champs play host to a very hot GCC squad that believes they have what it takes to make a deep playoff run. Rounding out the weekend on the 20th, WPIAL fans will get the opportunity to watch a 6A Non-Section showdown between #1 Butler and #4 Hempfield. Also, the 2A heavy favorite, Serra Catholic, will have to travel to the likes of #7 Carlynton in a tough road matchup.  

Here is the full Week 4 – Games To Watch List:

April 16th

6A

#2 Pine Richland @ #5 North Allegheny

5A

#4 West Allegheny @ #5 Moon Area

#3 Laurel Highlands @ #7 Gateway

3A

#1 Riverside @ #2 Avonworth

2A

#3 CWNC @ #2 Neshannock

1A

#4 Union @ #5 Eden Christian

 

April 18th

6A

#7 Penn Trafford @ #6 Norwin

5A

#6 Hampton @ #2 Mars

4A

#4 Freeport @ #2 Knoch

#6 West Mifflin @ #9 South Park

3A

#5 Steel Valley @ #7 Shady Side Academy

#2 Avonworth @ #8 South Side Beaver’

#3 Brownsville @ #4 Charleroi

2A

#5 OLSH @ #3 CWNC

#6 Bishop Canevin @ #7 Carlynton

1A

#1 Vincentian @ #5 Eden Christian

#2 GCC @ #3 Jeanette

 

April 20th

6A

#4 Hempfield @ #1 Butler*

#3 Canon Mac @ #8 USC

5A

#6 Hampton @ #1 North Hills

#3 Laurel Highlands @ #8 Franklin Regional

4A

#7 Ringgold @ #6 West Mifflin

3A

#1 Riverside @ #8 South Side Beaver

2A

#8 Laurel @ #5 OLSH

#1 Serra Catholic @ #7 Carlynton

1A

#2 GCC @ #8 Monessen

#6 Quigley Catholic @ #9 Rochester

 

*Non-Section Matchup