2023 WPIAL Class A baseball preseason breakdown

Saturday, March 18, 2023 | 8:01 AM

It’s a realignment year in WPIAL baseball and once again, the higher classifications have taken a hit.

While Class 6A is down one team from the last two-year cycle, Class 5A is down one whole section after shrinking from 25 teams to 19 teams for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

Class 4A and 3A are the bloated classes now with four sections for each. The smallest two classes have three sections each.

Here is a rundown of the 2023 preseason top 5 teams, players to watch and other diamond notes in WPIAL Class A baseball.

Preseason Top 5

1. Union (12-5 last season)

The run of Union district championships in high school baseball could results in a triple play this spring. The Scotties pitched their way to a second straight WPIAL championship last year, allowing only four runs in three district playoff victories, culminating with a 4-1 win over Eden Christian Academy. While Jack Vitale and Tyler Staub are gone, many players return, including senior pitcher and outfielder Mark Stanley, senior infielder Brennan Porter, junior pitcher and outfielder Mike Gunn and junior pitcher and outfielder Rocco Galmarini.

2. Eden Christian Academy (17-2)

Eden Christian Academy won its first 17 games last season. The bad news is its two losses came in its final two games. The Warriors reached the district title game but lost to Union, then fell in the opening round of the state playoffs to Saegertown. The program is on the hunt for gold after state silver in 2021 and district silver in 2022. Another successful season for Eden Christian could be in the cards with the return of senior catcher Malachi Manges, senior infielder Brian Feldman, junior pitcher and infielder Caleb Emswiler and junior pitcher and outfielder Enzo Natale.

3. Carmichaels (15-2)

Last year, Carmichaels won the Section 1-2A title and was 15-1 after a first-round win over Apollo-Ridge. However, the Mighty Mikes’ season ended in the Class 2A quarterfinals with a 3-2 loss to Riverside. Now there is optimism at Carmichaels for another successful season and its run at its first district title in 15 years. Part of the bright outlook is the play of returning starters such as senior catcher Jacob Fordyce, senior outfielder Tyler Richmond and junior pitchers and infielders Liam Lohr and Mason Lapana.

4. West Greene (12-6)

For the second straight postseason, the West Greene baseball team was able to get past the first round with a victory, only to fall in the quarterfinals. Last year, the Pioneers’ season ended with a 6-0 loss to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the second round. West Greene looks to build on that success this season with senior infielder Kaden Shields and junior catchers Morgan Kiger and Johnny Lampe.

5. Bishop Canevin (7-6)

Bishop Canevin finished tied for second place in Section 2-A with Greensburg Central Catholic, but the Crusaders’ stay in the district playoffs was short and not so sweet when they were bounced by Riverview, 13-8. Now BC hopes to follow in the footsteps of the school’s football and boys basketball program and contend for their second baseball crown and first in 30 years. They will lean heavily on three sophomores in Tyler Maddix, Kole Olszewski and Kellan Andruscik.

Players to watch

Wesley Burchianti, jr., P/INF/OF, Avella

Dom Martini, sr., P/C, California

Addison Panepinto, sr., P/C/INF, California

Caden Powell, sr., P/OF, California

Aidan Lowden,sr., INF, California

Jacob Fordyce, sr., C, Carmichaels

Mason Lapana, jr., P/INF, Carmichaels

Liam Lohr, jr., P/INF, Carmichaels

Tyler Richmond, sr., OF, Carmichaels

Adam Wolfe, sr., P/INF, Fort Cherry

Owen Norman, sr., P/C, Fort Cherry

Ryan Steele, sr., P/INF, Fort Cherry

Brenton Barnhart, soph., OF, Jefferson-Morgan

Landon Stevenson, sr., IF Mapletown

Morgan Kiger, jr., C, West Greene

Johnny Lampe, jr., C/OF, West Greene

Kaden Shields, sr., INF, West Greene

Owen McDermott, sr., INF, Leechburg

Parker Lyons, sr., INF, Rochester

John Hughes, jr., Springdale

Owen Swanson, jr., P/OF, St. Joseph

Charlie Ross, jr., OF/INF, St. Joseph

Mark Stanley, sr., P-OF, Union

Brennan Porter, sr., INF, Union

Mike Gunn, jr., P/OF, Union

Rocco Galmarini, jr., P/OF, Union

Will Martin, jr., INF, Western Beaver

Blake Marshall, jr., OF, Western Beaver

Benji Valdez, soph,. INF, Western Beaver

Tyler Maddix, soph., P/INF/OF, Bishop Canevin

Kole Olszewski, soph., P/INF, Bishop Canevin

Kellan Andruscik, soph., P/INF, Bishop Canevin

Jake Moldovan, jr., P/INF/OF, Carlynton

Dylan Sunderland, jr., P/INF, Carlynton

Martin Lawrence, jr., P/INF/OF, Clairton

Michael Wright, jr., P/INF, Clairton

C.J. Jackson, jr., P/C/INF, Cornell

Joshua Mozuch, jr., P/C/INF, Cornell

Malachi Manges, sr., C, Eden Christian Academy

Brian Feldman, sr., INF, Eden Christian Academy

Caleb Emswiler, jr., P/INF, Eden Christian Academy

Enzo Natale, jr., P/OF, Eden Christian Academy

Dante DeFelice, sr., INF, Monessen

Ben Speicher, sr., INF, Monessen

Adin Zorn, sr., INF, Sewickley Academy

Jordan Smith, jr., P/INF/OF, Sewickley Academy

Nicholas Straka, sr., P/C/INF, Sewickley Academy

Diamond notes

• Union will be trying to make history in looking to become the first school to win three straight Class A championships. Both Neshanncok (2011-2012) and Serra Catholic (2009-2010) won back-to-back gold in Single-A. The last WPIAL baseball team to win three straight baseball titles in the same classification was Pine-Richland in 2004-2006.

• Only four WPIAL schools have won PIAA Class A championships. Three of them are now in higher classifications and one of them doesn’t exist anymore. Vincentian Academy won the PIAA Class A baseball titles in 2016 and 2018. The other three are Serra Catholic in 2011, Neshannock in 2004 and Greensburg Central Catholic in 2002.

• After realignment, Class A actually grew from 18 to 21 teams. Moving down to Class A from 2A are Carmichaels, California, Fort Cherry, Summit Academy, Carlynton and Clairton while moving up to 2A from A are Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Greensburg Central Catholic and Riverview.

• Four Class A teams begin the new year after going winless in 2022. Cornell was 0-13 last spring and has lost 17 in a row while Clairton was 0-12 last season and has also lost 17 straight. St. Joseph was 0-13 last year and has lost 16 straight. Summit Academy was 0-11 in its return season after not playing in 2021 due to covid-19 concerns. The Knights have lost 12 straight coming into the season since their last win in 2019. On the flip side, Carlynton, Mapletown and Springdale each bring a one-game winning streak into the 2023 season.

• This is the 24th season for Class A baseball. Some WPIAL Class A championship anniversary being celebrated this season include: Vincentian Academy won the WPIAL Class A title five years ago in 2018. Western Beaver captured gold 10 years ago in 2013, Carmichaels was the Class A winner 15 years ago in 2008 and 20 years ago in 2003. The first Class A winner was South Fayette in 1999.

2023 alignment

Section 1: Avella, California, Carmichaels, Fort Cherry, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, West Greene

Section 2: Leechburg, Rochester, Springdale, St. Joseph’s, Summit Academy, Union, Western Beaver

Section 3: Bishop Canevin, Carlynton, Clairton, Cornell, Eden Christian, Monessen, Sewickley Academy

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