2021 WPIAL Class 2A baseball preseason breakdown
Sunday, March 28, 2021 | 8:01 AM
WPIAL baseball players have been waiting nearly two seasons to get back on the field of play after the coronavirus pandemic forced officials to cancel the entire 2020 campaign.
With the 2021 season moving forward, district players are eager to showcase their skills and lead their teams to the postseason.
Here is a look at the new district alignment, along with the baseball teams and players to watch in WPIAL Class 2A in 2021:
Preseason Top 5
1. Seton LaSalle (21-3 in 2019) — The defending WPIAL Class 2A champion Rebels are off to an impressive start after defeating Peters Township, 9-6, on Saturday. Senior third baseman Brett Wagner (.308, 25 RBIs) hit a two-run homer. Junior pitcher Sam Georgiana (5-1, 1.84 ERA, 42 strikeouts in 2019) tossed four innings in the win. The Rebels also will be led by senior catcher Cam Colwell, a Seton Hill recruit who hit .389 with 18 RBIs as a sophomore, and senior shortstop Brian Vogel (14 RBIs). The Rebels are without Kentucky recruit Drew Lafferty, who transferred to South Park.
2. Serra Catholic (23-4) — The Eagles were WPIAL and PIAA runners-up in Class 2A in 2019. Seven starters are back from that team, including seniors Dom DeMoss, Jayden Mertz, Zach Miklos and Dom Puzzanchera. They will miss the bat of Mark Black, a Wake Forest recruit now playing at Chipola College.
3. Chartiers-Houston (13-5) — Senior shortstop Jimmy Sadler, a West Virginia recruit and all-section pick in 2019, is one of four returning starters for Chartiers-Houston, which will look to compete in a tough Section 4. Infielders Ryan Parise and Austin Kuslock and outfielder Roman Lombardi also return. Junior catcher/pitcher/outfielder Matt Reiger and sophomore pitcher/outfielder Jake Mele should also be impact players for first-year coach Andy Manion.
4. Shenango (19-3) — Shenango reached the WPIAL quarterfinals in 2019 and returns a pair of all-section pitchers – senior Marcus Fuller and junior Tino Campoli. Senior Ethan Bintrim returns to anchor the lineup. He had a pair of doubles in Saturday’s win over Ellwood City.
5. California (19-2) — The Trojans are moving up to Class 2A after winning the 2019 WPIAL title in Class A and advancing to the PIAA quarterfinals. Back are senior infielders Payton Conte and Brody Conner, who each were all-section selections in 2019. California has won six WPIAL titles.
Players to watch
Tino Campoli, Jr., P, Shenango
Cade Chauvet, Sr., OF, Carlynton
Cam Colwell, Sr., C, Seton LaSalle
Brody Conner, Sr., INF, California
Payton Conte, Sr., SS/P, California
Marcus Fuller, Sr., P, Shenango
Sam Georgiana, Jr., P, Seton LaSalle
Robert Herr, Sr., OF, Laurel
Gavin Pratt, Sr., P, Carmichaels
Jimmy Sadler, Sr., SS, Chartiers-Houston
Brett Wagner, Jr., P/3B, Seton LaSalle
• Seton LaSalle defeated Serra Catholic, 11-2, to win the 2019 WPIAL Class 2A championship. WPIAL semifinalists Laurel and Neshannock also qualified for the PIAA playoffs.
• There are 25 teams across four sections in Class 2A, down from 27 in the last two-year PIAA alignment cycle. Shady Side Academy, Beth-Center and Washington all joined from Class 3A. California and Aliquippa moved up from Class A. Brownsville, Mohawk and Avonworth bumped up to Class 3A. Western Beaver, Riverview, OLSH and Sewickley Academy all dropped to Class A.
• Section 2’s Summit Academy elected to opt out of the 2021 season.
• Neshannock, which was 19-4 and reached the PIAA playoffs in 2019, will be without injured senior outfielder Patrick Copple, a Grove City recruit, but the Lancers do return senior infielder/pitcher JA Quahliero, who will play at Westminster, along with senior DH Connor Montgomery (Grove City football), senior outfielder Matthew Nativio (W&J football), senior outfielder Mike Morelli and senior pitcher/outfielder Gavin Wooley, among others.
• Jeannette advanced to the postseason five consecutive years, from 2015-19, and reeled in the 2017 WPIAL Class A title. Only two players return from the 2019 playoff team — Emilio Huerta, a senior center fielder, and Tyler Horn, a junior catcher.
• Senior pitcher Gavin Pratt, a Seton Hill recruit, is a returning all-section selection for Carmichaels. He had three hits in a season-opening win over Brownsville.
• Senior outfielder/pitcher/first baseman Robert Herr, a Slippery Rock recruit, helped Laurel reach the WPIAL semifinals in 2019, earning all-section recognition in the process.
• Fort Cherry, 9-10 in 2019, returns a pair of three-year letter winners in seniors Jake Tkach and Lane Miller.
Section 1: Bentworth, Beth-Center, California, Carmichaels, Frazier, Washington
Section 2: Aliquippa, Laurel, Neshannock, Riverside, Shenango, South Side
Section 3: Apollo-Ridge, Jeannette, Northgate, Serra Catholic, Shady Side Academy, Sto-Rox
Section 4: Brentwood, Burgettstown, Carlynton, Chartiers-Houston, Clairton, Fort Cherry, Seton LaSalle
Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.
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