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.

 

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