WPIAL Baseball Power Rankings – 5/5

It is getting closer and closer to the greatest time of the year. The WPIAL Baseball Playoffs. Really the only other time that can compete with the anticipation and excitement is the start of the season, but it flys by so quick we have already found ourselves approaching the latter.

This past week of action did a great job clearing up the power rankings and really showcasing who the contenders are. This is the exact time of year when you have to be playing your best ball to make it big. So many teams peak too early and are left in shambles when it matters most. The win streaks that are currently held absolutely matter and provide insights towards which programs are trending in the right direction.

We had two teams step up and take over the top spot in their respective conferences, but other than that there were not a whole lot of shake-ups as we expected this deep into the year. Without further adieu, let’s dive into the WPIAL Baseball Power Rankings as of May 5th.

6A

Pine Richland, Pine Richland, Pine Richland. That’s been the story of 6A as the Rams have never faltered from the top spot in the conference. They have been dominating and it does not look like they have any intentions of stopping soon. Penn Trafford has been just as consistent maintaining the #2 spot en route to a superb 14-2 record. Next up is North Allegheny who has really turned it on as of late with a 5 game win streak. Peters and Bethel have both also been fantastic and are holding down the fort in section 3 where everyone believed Canon Mac would be shining the brightest. The Big Macs have been a disappointment recently losing 5 of their last 8 contests. However, it was Seneca Valley who took the biggest drop in the rankings after two straight losses and has now opened the door wide open for all sorts of playoff situations to unravel in Section 1. Five of the six squads from Section 1 are in our Top 10 and it will come right down to the wire in terms of who’s season stays alive and who ultimately goes home.

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5A

Top 3 stay entact in 5A with no breaking news there at all as West A, Franklin, and the Talbots have all continued their success. Gateway has been a stellar surprise at #4, while Mars has been less than stellar by our standards with how high our hopes were for this season, but their roster is so dangerous they have to remain as a top 5 power in 5A. We welcomed Montour into the mix as the Spartans have won their last 5 games and are sitting pretty in the #2 spot in Section 3. Their section foe Laurel Highlands took the biggest drop of the week, but a 9-4 record is nothing to scoff at and the Mustangs are still a dangerous team heading into the postseason.

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4A

Welcome back Belle Vernon. That’s really the big story in this week’s 4A rankings as the Leopards have won 4 straight including a major win over rival Ringgold. The Group of Death (Section 3) has remained strong with 5 of the squads still maintaining spots in the top 10. South Park took a jump up again after proving how dangerous they can be pulling out wins against 3 of these 5 ranked teams. We look forward to seeing these teams continue to battle against one another for one final week.

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3A

Welcome to the top Keystone Oaks. A 10 game win streak has propelled KO to new heights and take over the top spot in 3A. Hopewell and Deer Lakes both fell a spot in result, but still are lethal teams that need to be watched closely in this conference. A lot of consistent play from resulted in minimal overall movement here. The team we have our eye on once again is New Brighton. They went perfect for another week including a win over Hopewell and rightfully earned a promotion but steady play all around in 3A resulted in another standstill. Nonetheless, we expect NB to continue succeeding and will be one of our primed sleepers when it matters most.

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2A

Speaking of consistent conferences, 2A did not have much going on here either. Avonworth and OLSH flip-flopped spots after Avonworth pulled off a major win against the Chargers earlier this week. Carmichaels and Seton LaSalle were both promoted and rightfully so after they have been dominating to hold 13 win seasons. 2A is proving its depth yet again and will be our favorite conference to closely watch come playoff time.

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1A

Finally in 1A, Vincentian has taken over the crown starting off the year 9-0. Union is still a major team to watch and really only fell because of Vincentian’s perfection. We are excited about a potential matchup between these two in Washington, but on another note you can not count out California from ‘ship contention. With a combined record of 32-4 at the top, these three squads have proven they are the leaders of the pack. Jefferson Morgan found their way into the Power Rankings, and other than that, every other squad stayed at the exact same spot they were at a week ago.

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Make sure you follow us on Twitter and Instagram – @wpial_baseball, and if you haven’t already, subscribe to our blog at the button on the left to make sure you are notified whenever we post new content! Good luck this week to all teams and players, and the best is yet to come here at WPIAL Baseball.

WPIAL Baseball Power Rankings – 4/28

After a long awaited two week break due to the Easter Holiday, the WPIAL Baseball Power Rankings are back and better than ever. You would think the two-week absence would mean that shake-ups would be prominent and we’d be welcoming a ton of new teams into the mix as we rapidly approach the postseason, but in reality it was quite the contrary.

Out of the entire 6 conference slate, we only have one team take over the reins at the top compared to where we were just 14 days ago. We also only had to say goodbye to 6 teams total, with one conference not even switching a single squad from their 10.

There can be several factors that play into the consistency of these lists, but the one I personally would like to hone in on has been the brutal weather over the past couple weeks. We need some sunshine to be brought to the Burgh so that these section games can be conducted as scheduled. Once that happens the postseason picture, specifically the contenders vs pretenders we like to discuss, will start to take legitimate form. But for the time being, let’s dive into the Power Rankings as of 4/28.

6A

Pine still reigns strong. Another set of perfect weeks and a 5-0 section record has the Rams rolling at the top of 6A without questioning. Penn Trafford has continued their strong season as well and holds the #2. The story in 6A lies with the new #3 team, Peters moving up and up the ranks week after week en route to a 10-4 record. The Indians are trending in the right direction while their section foe, Canon Mac, took a tumble down 5 spots after a three-game losing streak. The Big Macs still have plenty of talent amongst their deep roster, and even though three section losses does hurt the resume, we still believe they have what it takes to be a top tier threat in this conference.

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5A

Here we had a little more action amongst the top 10. Only one team stayed put in the spot they held down two weeks ago, and of course it was the top dawg West Allegheny. The Indians have continued to thrive with a talented roster and particularly weaker strength of schedule. Outside of Section 3, Franklin Regional/Gateway and Hampton/Mars have been battling it out respectively to try and clear up the section champion picture. The 5 mentioned teams above have all held down the top half of these rankings in a consistent fashion and seem to be the teams to beat by a wide margin. Amongst the latter half, we are keeping an eye on Shaler’s success as they have been moving quickly in the correct direction.

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4A

Blackhawk and Yough stay true to their top spots, but the team to watch has got to be the Ringgold Rams. Ringgold has been the highest touted team heading into the season, and after a not so stellar start they find themselves on the right end of a 6 game win streak. Their 8-1 section record is even more impressive considering how loaded their section is. The group of death consisting of Ringgold, TJ, Elizabeth Forward, South Park, and Belle Vernon have all held down spots in our Top 10 at one point or another and if they didn’t have to battle constantly would more than likely sit atop the conference as a whole. Outside of section 3 the rest of the conference stayed intact for the most part. Beaver made another headline after they took down Blackhawk 6-2. We knew their squad had the talent to win a lot of ball games this year, and this W scratches the surface of what could be to come.

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3A

Once again, the top 2 squads hold down the fort in another WPIAL conference. McGuffey and Keystone Oaks, both out of the same section, have put together awesome seasons thus far to fill out some of the Top 5. New Brighton has put together a nice 5 game win streak to make their case as one of the teams to look out for come postseason time as well. We welcome Beth-Center this week and say goodbye to Waynesburg after Beth knocked down their section foe 4-3. Other than that, 3A stayed relatively quiet but should see some shaking and baking as section play continues this week.

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2A

A new #1, Shenango takes over the top spot in 2A as Serra fell earlier in the week to Seton LaSalle 10-9. We have stated several times now that 2A has been dominated by the top 5 team, whom all remain the same once again, but now 3 more teams have proven their legitimacy and have made 2A the deepest conference of the WPIAL’s 6. I mean it’s almost unimaginable that the 8th ranked team is 9-2, just two losses throughout the entire year and still they are ways away from cracking the top 5 because all this conference does is win. It is extraordinary the successes that these squads have had, and should make for an insanely intriguing playoff series.

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1A

Finally in 1A, we had basically nothing happen in a two-week time span. 7 teams stayed in the exact same spot, Monessen and Eden flip-flopped their positions, and we welcomed Quigley and  Leechburg into the mix. Quigley made a massive jump from out of the picture into the thick of things with a strong 5-1 section start. As of now, this conference seems like a four-horse race with the top tier residing at the top currently, but you can never count anyone out in the WPIAL. Always remember that.

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Make sure you follow us on Twitter and Instagram – @wpial_baseball, and if you haven’t already, subscribe to our blog at the button on the left to make sure you are notified whenever we post new content! Good luck this week to all teams and players, and the best is yet to come here at WPIAL Baseball.

 

WPIAL Baseball Power Rankings – 4/7

The WPIAL Baseball season got off to a very hot start, even though the weather has been basically the opposite. After a little over a week of play, our Power Rankings have witnessed some shake-ups amongst the respective top 10’s.

Prior to diving into our updated rankings, we want to make sure that you understand what our system is based on. First, the corresponding team records have been provided by the Post Gazette’s database. We wanted to be transparent with where we are gathering our numbers so that if they need to be updated in anyway, you are at least aware of where the data derives from. Secondly, we prioritize section record over a team’s overall record. Our rankings are based on the current standing of the team, but also take into account projectability and postseason potential. At the earlier stages of the season, just like we find ourselves in currently, our rankings are more focused on overall team talent and how strong the programs are looking throughout the entire course of 2019.

With all of that being said, let’s jump into the WPIAL Baseball Power Rankings as of April 7th.

6A

There’s a new squad at the top. After an iffy start for the NA Tigers, Pine Richland bumped up to take control over 6A. The two powerhouses we are going to be watching quite closely are both Pine Richland and Canon Mac. Both rosters are loaded with talent (college level talent that is) and know exactly what it takes to win close ball games. If these two can match up in the finals, it would be one heck of a show. Penn Trafford and Central Catholic have come out of the gates firing on all cylinders with 7 wins apiece. We will be curious to see how both of these squads hold up heading into section play, but right now it does not look like either team has any intentions of slowing down soon.

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5A

The two top dawgs stay put between Mars and West A. The two big surprises here were Laurel Highlands and Gateway propelling into the top 5. The Mustangs program is consistently strong, and have proven their early dominance year after year with great showings in the early parts of the season. Gateway told us to watch out for them in 2019, and they are backing it up so far with solid wins over Hampton, Woodland Hills, and Butler. Hampton took the biggest drop of the rankings after finding themselves with a below .500 record thus far. Moon and Trinity both earned new ranks after capable showings respectively as well.

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4A

We received some negative feedback in regard to Quaker Valley hosting the top position in 4A after some injuries depleted their roster, but so far all they have done is win. With that being said, there are several teams that are right on their tails and gunning for the top spot. Greensburg Salem took a major jump after putting together a 5 game win streak to start off the year. Blackhawk and Knoch are back in the top 5 which has become quite familiar to both programs during the past few years. The two teams that we are seriously watching right now, and going forward, are South Park and Ringgold. Right now, they are ranked 7th and 8th respectively, but we would not be shocked at all if they are both fighting for the #1 spot when it’s all said and done. Both rosters are filled with consistent producers who have played in high-pressure contests before. They have all the makings of championship caliber teams and these early stages of section play should be a strong indicator if they can legitimately reach their high ceiling of potential.

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3A

This conference looks as if there has been a ton of shifting, but in reality, it has been sort of standard in our minds. North Catholic took the biggest drop and even though 1-4 is not a record to be proud of, their non-section competition was very strong. Pulling out multiple wins under their circumstances would have been pretty extraordinary. Their strength of schedule could prepare them well for the 3A road ahead, and that is why we support them still in the top 5. McGuffey, Freedom, and Freeport all are welcomed to the Top 10 as first-timers, and find themselves in the middle of a deep slate of equally talented teams. We can confidently say that none of the teams in this top 10 are lacking in talent, but I would also state that none are light years better than the next. 3A should be an exciting conference to watch as the season goes on, and should be filled with many ebs and flows of success/failures for every one of these squads.

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2A

The strong got stronger, and 4 newcomers were welcomed to the party. Avonworth and Serra both lived up to the hype that we brought to both programs during the preseason. Neshannock kept on winning just as they always have. OLSH and Seton LaSalle went on a tear to start their year leaving us with no choice but to throw them in the middle of the 2A fire. But with that all being said, Shenango is the squad that opened our eyes. We had them as our Preseason #4 team across this conference, so we are not surprised that they have been so successful. We knew the talent was there, but we did not expect them to dominate the competition so steadily. They have won contests with scores of 16-9, 12-7, 9-2, they took down Riverside 5-1 which is never an easy battle, and got the best of a solid Laurel team that was another one of our sleepers in 2019. Avonworth and Serra are elite teams without a doubt, but don’t sleep on what Shenango is bringing to the table this season.

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1A

Last but certainly not least, teams across 1A started their season just as we have become accustomed to. Teams in 1A usually have to start their seasons off playing against the larger schools across the area. This is no disrespect towards them, but it is a tough task to knock down powerhouses with graduation classes that are double, triple, maybe even a bit bigger than that compared to these 1A schools. This is why the records here seem to be so low compared to the teams included above. Union, California, and West Greene have still gotten off to great starts by those accounts. We expect teams like Vincentian and G.C.C. to tear up section play when that commences here in the very near future as well. Two teams to watch on the lower half of our 10 currently are St. Joseph and Bishop Canevin. Both programs are right around the .500 mark, but we could see a quick spike in W’s with local contests finally coming to the table.

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Make sure you follow us on Twitter and Instagram – @wpial_baseball, and if you haven’t already, subscribe to our blog at the button on the left to make sure you are notified whenever we post new content! Good luck this week to all teams and players, and the best is yet to come here at WPIAL Baseball.

 

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.

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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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  • 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!

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