2021 WPIAL Class A baseball preseason breakdown

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Monday, March 29, 2021 | 10:28 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.

Check out the WPIAL Class 6A, 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A previews.

Here is a look at the new district alignment, along with the baseball teams and players to watch in WPIAL Class A in 2021:

Class A

Preseason Top 5

1. Union (15-5) — The Scotties were WPIAL runners-up in 2018 and ’19, falling to California, 9-6, in the last championship game. Union again has a solid group of players to make a run to the finals. The Scotties return senior pitcher/outfielder Jake Vitale, a Westminster recruit who was 3 for 5 in a season-opening, 9-8 win against Mohawk. Brennen Porter and Nick Vitale also had two hits. Union also will lean on pitcher Joey Annarelli, who will play at Bucks County Community College.

2. Greensburg Central Catholic (10-9) — WPIAL quarterfinalists in 2019, the Centurions won the 2015 WPIAL title in Class A. They lost five seniors to graduation last spring but have a few experienced players back, including a strong pitching staff with seniors Alex Miller (3-3, 2.78 ERA) and Dylan Sebek, plus junior Zach David. Sebek (.406) and Miller are the team’s only seniors.

3. OLSH (18-4) — The Chargers won the Section 4-2A title and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals in 2019. They dropped down to Class A this season and will rely on Montclair State recruit John Evans, a senior outfielder who transferred from now-closed Quigley Catholic.

4. Eden Christian (11-9) — The Warriors, who reached the WPIAL quarterfinals in 2019, move to Section 3 this year with Sewickley Academy and four teams from the A-K Valley so there will be some travel. Three seniors are planning to play at the Division III level – David Kelly (Westminster), Andrew Prouty (Muskingum) and Luke Vittone (Grove City). Vittone was an all-section infielder in 2019.

5. West Greene (11-8) — West Greene, a playoff team in Section 2 in 2019, will feature a young lineup but returns seniors Ben Archer, Chase Blake, Brayden Mooney, Caleb Rice and Austin Orndoff. The Pioneers will play in a competitive Section 2.

Players to watch

Joey Annarelli, Sr., P, Union

Bryce Bedilion, Sr., P/OF, Jefferson-Morgan

Cameron Curfman, Sr., OF, Leechburg

John Evans, Sr., OF, OLSH

Brandon John, Jr., SS, Springdale

Clay Menear, Jr., P/CF, Mapletown

Alex Miller, Sr., OF, Greensburg Central Catholic

Jack Sacco, Jr., P/3B, Monessen

Dylan Sebek, Sr., P/CF/SS, Greensburg Central Catholic

Jake Vitale, Sr., P, Union

Luke Vittone, Sr. INF, Eden Christian

Notable

• California defeated Union, 9-6, to win the WPIAL Class A title in 2019.

• There are 18 teams in Class A this season, down from 20 in the last two-year PIAA alignment cycle. California, Clairton and Aliquippa moved up to Class 2A. Western Beaver, Riverview, OLSH and Sewickley Academy all dropped down from 2A. Geibel opted out for the 2021 season. Quigley Catholic was aligned to be in Section 1-A but closed last summer. Vincentian Academy, the 2018 WPIAL champion, also closed last summer.

• Monessen returns just one player with varsity experience, junior pitcher/third baseman Jack Sacco, who hit .306 with 12 RBIs in 2019.

• Western Beaver will look to improve on a 1-14 season in 2019 with four returning starters, including pitchers Jacob Stiger and Austin Hall.

• Mapletown returns four starters this season, including junior all-section and all-county pitcher/center fielder Clay Menear, and senior infielder/pitcher Lance Stevenson, who was all-county. The Maples also will have six freshmen looking to make a quick impact.

• After going 8-8 in 2019, Rochester returns three starters — Ethan Blair, JD Azulay and Parker Lyons — who hope to lead the program to the postseason.

• Junior shortstop Brandon John returns to lead Springdale after earning all-section honors in 2019 following a freshman season where he hit .524 with 16 RBIs. Senior pitcher/third baseman Demitri Fritch and freshman pitcher/center fielder John Hughes also are expected to be key contributors.

Alignment

Section 1: Avella, Cornell, OLSH, Rochester, Union, Western Beaver

Section 2: Bishop Canevin, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, Monessen, West Greene

Section 3: Eden Christian, Leechburg, Riverview, St. Joseph, Sewickley Academy, Springdale

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@triblive.com or via Twitter @BHartlep_Trib.

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