2022 PIAA Class 5A baseball championship preview: Bethel Park vs. Selinsgrove

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Wednesday, June 15, 2022 | 10:29 PM


PIAA Class 5A baseball championship

Bethel Park (20-3) vs. Selinsgrove (23-2)

4:30 p.m. Friday at Medlar Field, Lubrano Park at Penn State

Path to Penn State

Bethel Park – The No. 3 team out of the WPIAL defeated District 6 champion Central Mountain in the first round, 4-3, shut out the team it lost to in the district semifinals, West Allegheny, 7-0, in the quarterfinals and beat Donegal out of District 3 in the semifinals, 8-5.

Selinsgrove – The District 4 champions blanked Susquehannock from District 3 in the first round, 1-0, and defeated District 1 champion Upper Dublin, 8-7, in the quarterfinals before beating District 12 champion Archbishop Wood in the semifinals, 2-1, in nine innings.

Secret to their success

Bethel Park – The defending PIAA 5A champion Black Hawks are following a similar blueprint to the one they used last spring, combining top-notch pitching, solid defense and timely hitting to win a lot of close games. After losing a 5-0 lead in the sixth inning of a semifinal against Donegal, BP bounced back with three runs in the seventh thanks to junior Ray Altmeyer’s two-run single. Junior John Chalus has two hits in each of the last two games while likely title game starting pitcher, junior Evan Holewinski, had a double and two RBIs in the semifinals after pitching a three-hit gem in the quarterfinals. Senior Cody Geddes has done it with his bat and arm, picking up wins in the first round and semifinals. Freshman Ray Petras was a perfect 4 for 4 in eliminating West Allegheny in Round 2.

Selinsgrove – The Seals are also used to close games, with three straight one-run victories in the state playoffs. Trailing 1-0 in the semifinals, Selinsgrove used a squeeze bunt in the sixth to tie the game and a ground ball in and out of the first baseman’s glove in the ninth inning to win it. Senior Ryan Reich has allowed only one run in 14⅔ innings in the state playoffs. Junior Gannon Steimling leads the Seals with a .466 batting average while junior Tyler Swineford leads in homers with seven and RBIs with 38.

Championship factoids

Bethel Park – With their win Monday, the Black Hawks are now an amazing 6-0 all-time in PIAA semifinals games. Bethel Park’s overall record in state playoff games is 23-9. The Hawks are 2-3 in their previous five trips to the finals. They beat West Lawn Wilson, 13-6, to win gold in the 1988 Class AAA title game and then knocked off Red Land, 4-2, in the 5A finals last spring. The three losses were to Montoursville in 1985, Pennridge in 1987 and West Chester East in 2003. The WPIAL is 2 for 2 in PIAA Class 5A state title games with Latrobe winning it all in 2017 and Bethel Park bringing home gold in 2021.

Selinsgrove – The Seals are 7-3 all-time in the PIAA playoffs and are making their second trip to a state championship game. Selinsgrove defeated Beaver, 7-4, to win the 2019 PIAA Class 4A championship. Prior to 2019, the Seals were 0-3 in state playoff games. In the last 20 years, only Selinsgrove three years ago and Loyalsock Township (2008, 2013, 2014) have won PIAA baseball championships out of District 4.

WPIAL — This is the fifth season the PIAA has hosted six state championship baseball games. This year, the WPIAL sends three teams to Penn State looking to cap their outstanding seasons with state gold. It has been a mixed bag for District 7 teams in the PIAA finals since expansion in 2017. The greatest success was last spring when five teams played in the state championship game and Bethel Park and New Castle returned as champions. Four teams reached the title game in 2018 with Canon-McMillan, Ringgold and Vincentian Academy all winning. In 2017 and 2019, only two WPIAL teams reached the finals with Latrobe in ’17 bringing home the only state crown.

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