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…

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.