2013 WPIAL Baseball Championships Preview

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Monday, May 27, 2013 | 8:56 PM


The upcoming 2013 WPIAL baseball championships are as easy as 1, 2, 3. One defending champ looking for a third straight title…Two undefeated teams trying to stay perfect in securing district gold…Three top seeds heading into a game that many expected them to be a part of. Here is a look at the Class AA and Class AAA finals on Tuesday and the Class A and Class AAAA championship games on Wednesday at CONSOL Energy Park in Washington and only here on the MSA Sports Network.

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WPIAL CLASS AAAA:

The game: North Allegheny (19-4) vs. Seneca Valley (18-3), Wednesday at 8 p.m.

The pitchers: North Allegheny’s Mitch Machi vs. Seneca Valley’s Connor Coward.

About the teams: They play in the same section and Seneca Valley won a pair of one-run games against North Allegheny. … Seneca Valley is trying to become only third team in WPIAL history to win three consecutive titles. The Raiders have an experienced and talented team. One of their best players is leadoff hitter Jonathan Dorogy, a three-year starter in the outfield. On Saturday, Dorogy finished second in the state in the Class AAA 100-meter dash. Third baseman Sam Fragale is one to watch. He is a Virginia Tech recruit who missed much of the regular season with an injury. Coward has been superb as Seneca Valley’s ace this season. He is 7-0 and has pitched two shutouts in the quarterfinals and finals. … For North Allegheny, Machi is 6-0, winning both the quarterfinals and semifinals. North Allegheny coach Andy Maddox said this North Allegheny team is different than some of his previous best squads because there is no big star on the team. Basically, the Tigers just have a lot of good players. They have played some “small ball” effectively this season. Senior third baseman James Meeker hit .463 in the regular season and Matt Waugaman was among the WPIAL leaders in RBIs with 23. Center fielder Jim Divosevic, a Slippery Rock recruit, also is worth watching.

Championship history: Seneca Valley has three championships – 1994, 2011 and 2012. North Allegheny six titles – 1990, ’91, ’96, 2003, ‘05 and ‘09.

WPIAL CLASS AAA:

The game: Hopewell (20-3) vs. South Park (23-0, Tuesday at 5 p.m.

The pitchers: Hopewell’s Clayton Covalt vs. South Park’s Nick Yobbi

About the teams: Both managers said last week they were a little unsure who they will start at pitcher, but settled on Covalt and Yobbi. Covalt is 7-1 and has two shutouts in the playoffs. But Stefon Mrkonja also is talented and is left-handed. For South Park, Randy Dobnak has not given up a run in two playoff appearances and is 8-0. But coach Steve Bucci is going with Yobbi, who is 6-0 and also has been impressive. … South Park is undefeated and since 1979, only four teams have won a WPIAL title with an undefeated record. … South Park has been an explosive offensive team this season, scoring double figures in runs in 12 games. But can a top pitcher slow down the Eagles? South Park managed only two hits and one run off Keystone Oaks’ Jared Skolnicki in a 1-0 semifinal win. During the regular season, Yobbi, Justin Dillan Chris Winkler and Shane Fetsko all batted above .450 and Winkler had a WPIAL-best 32 RBIs. … For Hopewell, Logan Johnston has been an offensive threat all season. He is batting .500 with five home runs and 26 RBIs. Ryan Cox is one of the best shorstops in Class AAA and also is one of the team’s top hitters.

Championship history: South Park has never won a WPIAL title. Hopewell won championships in 1979, 2000 and 2010.

WPIAL CLASS AA:

The game: Quaker Valley (21-0) vs. Beaver (16-3), Tuesday at 5 p.m.

The pitchers: Quaker Valley’s Jake Pilewicz vs. Beaver’s Austin Ross

About the teams: Quaker Valley is one of two undefeated teams in the finals (South Park is the other). Pilewicz has a 6-0 record and will get the start. Tyler Garbee is 9-0, but he is only a sophomore and Pilewicz has been awfully impressive in the postseason, allowing only one run in 15 innings. He gave up only one run in two starts and also pitched a scoreless inning of relief. One of Pilewicz’s playoff wins was a one-hitter against Freeport. Garbee will start at third base. Pilewicz is batting a team-high .471 and Westwood .429. It has been a wonderful senior year for Westwood. He was captain of soccer team that won a WPIAL title, captain of basketball team that made it to semifnals and now captain of another WPIAL finalist. … Jeff Mullen is Beaver’s acting coach while Bruce Herstine is still recovering from neck surgery. Beaver can be strong offensively, scoring 20 runs in three postseason games. In the regular season, Ben Herstine (son of the coach) is hitting .529 while Nick Hineman is batting .511. Austin Logan batted .488 in the regular season. Ross and Logan are both capable pitchers. Ross pitched a complete game in the semifinals and also had three hits. He is 7-1. Logan pitcher a two-hitter and struck out 17 in the quarterfinals.

Championship history: Quaker Valley has one championship (1984). It was the only year the Quakers made the title game. Beaver won championships in 2008 and 1983. The 1983 team had two future major-league pitchers – John Burkett and Doug Piatt.

WPIAL CLASS A:

The game: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (19-2) vs. Western Beaver (17-2), Wednesday at 5 p.m.

The pitchers: OLSH’s Preston Falascino vs. Western Beaver’s Nick Miller.

About the teams: Both teams showed strong offenses in the regular season. Western Beaver hasn’t been held below five runs in the postseason. Meanwhile, OLSH has scored 12, 5 and 2 runs in the playoffs. While both teams have the ability to score plenty of runs, don’t look for a high-scoring game, unless there are a number of errors. The reason is because both pitchers are good. Falascino is 7-1 with 65 strikeouts and a 0.61 ERA. Miller is 6-1 with a 0.72 ERA. Miller has allowed only 20 hits in 39 innings. … Falascino is one of the best all-around players in Class A. Besides his pitching, he also is hitting .508 with five home runs and 31 RBIs. Miller also is terrific in many facets of the game. He is hitting better than .500.

Championship history: This is OLSH’s first appearance in a championship game. Western Beaver has one title (2000).

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