Alle-Kiski Valley baseball playoff previews: Games of May 16, 2019

Thursday, May 16, 2019 | 1:02 PM

WPIAL baseball playoffs

First round

Thursday’s games

Class 5A

9-Fox Chapel (10-7) vs. 8-Mars (10-8)

4 p.m. at North Allegheny

Winner plays: 1-West Allegheny (18-2)

Coaches: Jim Hastings, Fox Chapel; Andy Bednar, Mars

Players to watch: Mitch Miles, Sr., P, Fox Chapel; Will Bednar, Sr., P, Mars

Extra bases: Fox Chapel, the third-place team from Section 1-5A, returns to the playoffs for a second consecutive year under Hastings, an alumnus. The Foxes lost, 6-5, to Laurel Highlands in the 2018 first round. After a 5-1 start, Fox Chapel had some difficulties in the second half of the season. Run prevention is key for the Foxes, who are 9-2 when holding opponents to four or fewer runs. Miles had a strong senior season, going 4-2 with a 1.73 ERA. … After reaching the WPIAL championship game each of the past two seasons, Mars had an up-and-down season, tying for third place in Section 2-5A. The Planets lost four of their final five regular-season games. Mars has a pair of Division I prospects on the mound in Bednar (Mississippi State) and junior Joey Craska (Virginia Tech). Bednar, an MLB Draft prospect, missed much of the season with a shoulder injury but returned late.

11-Kiski Area (9-9) vs. 6-Laurel Highlands (11-6)

4 p.m. at Seton Hill

Winner plays: 3-Hampton (12-6)

Coaches: Aaron Albert, Kiski Area; Scott DeBerry, Laurel Highlands

Players to watch: Ryne Wallace, Sr., P/OF, Kiski Area; Andino Vecchiolla, Jr., P/1B, Laurel Highlands

Extra bases: Kiski Area clinched its first playoff appearance since 2016 with a nine-inning walk-off win over Armstrong in its season finale and is seeking its first postseason win since 2009. The Cavaliers finished 4-13 last season but showed improvement in Albert’s first season. Ryan Rametta (4-0, 2.56 ERA) leads a deep pitching staff. Wallace (.419, 21 RBIs) and junior Billy Perroz (.463, 15 RBIs) pace the offense. … Laurel Highlands tied Montour for second place in Section 3-5A. The Mustangs made it to the WPIAL quarterfinals last season. Vecchiolla, a lefty, posted a 5-1 record and 2.10 ERA this season and batted .424 with 10 RBIs. Five of Laurel Highland’s six losses came by one run; the Mustangs are 3-5 in games decided by that margin this season.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, or via Twitter .

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