Alle-Kiski Valley baseball teams eye WPIAL playoff runs

Friday, May 13, 2022 | 8:03 PM

The Riverview Raiders, a WPIAL Class A baseball finalist last season, will first try to prevent Bishop Canevin from making WPIAL history this season.

No school ever has won WPIAL titles in football, basketball and baseball in the same academic year. The Crusaders already have nailed the football and basketball portion of the triumvirate.

Now, Bishop Canevin (7-5) will start its drive for baseball gold against Riverview (6-9) at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Shaler’s Matuleveic Field.

The Alle-Kiski Valley’s steadiest baseball playoff participant thus far this century is Plum. The Mustangs are back again, this time as the No. 11 seed. Plum will open the Class 5A playoffs against No. 6 Shaler (14-5) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny.

“We used to play them every year, and there were some very good games,” Plum coach Carl Vollmer said. “There were a few years we saw them in the playoffs multiple times.”

The Mustangs last played Shaler in the WPIAL quarterfinals May 18, 2015, losing to the Titans, 1-0.

The Mustangs (12-6) were rolling along, winning eight in a row in one stretch before their bats went cold. Plum has scored just eight runs in its last four games, losing three times.

“We’ve seen some good pitching lately,” Vollmer said. “That might have hurt us, seeding-wise, but we’re really looking forward to the playoff atmosphere under the lights. It’s a beautiful facility where you have that special feel.”

Playoff seeding sometimes doesn’t mean much. Last year, Plum was No. 6, and Latrobe was No. 11. The Mustangs fell in a hole early, and a late rally fell short in an 8-7 loss.

No. 13 Apollo-Ridge (9-7) will play No. 4 Carmichaels (12-1) for the second straight season in the opening round, this time at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Latrobe. The Mikes were mighty last year, posting a 12-1 victory.

But the Vikings have the big bats this year, scoring in double figures seven times.

Brandon Butler’s batting average is hovering around the .700 mark, and Bradey Schrock and Nathan Kavulic are both hitting over .500.

“We’ve really become more consistent hitters,” coach Jason Mamros said. “Our lineup is strong top to bottom, and there are no easy outs anymore.”

But this is the playoffs, and Apollo-Ridge has become stronger defensively.

“I think we were making four or five errors a game early,” Mamros said. “But now, there hasn’t been four or five errors over the last five games.”

The Vikings won four of five Section 3-2A games in a late stretch.

Highlands (12-6) has returned to the playoffs for the third straight season, and the No. 8 Golden Rams face No. 9 Quaker Valley (8-9) under the lights at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Plum.

“I think at this point, we’ll take that,” coach Jeff Campbell said of his team’s seed. “We’ve got a strong pitching staff, and I understand they have some solid arms.”

Campbell was able to keep his team together after the 2020 covid cancellation, playing in the short-lived Western Pennsylvania Baseball League.

“No doubt that’s helped us,” Campbell said. “We had a young team then, and we were fortunate to play, and that has benefited our program immensely.”

In other first-round games, Leechburg (7-5) faced Greensburg Central Catholic (8-6) at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Plum, and Deer Lakes (9-11) is back in the postseason as the Lancers will face McGuffey (7-8) at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Peterswood Park in Peters Township.

In 2017, Pine-Richland won basketball, baseball and football WPIAL titles, but the football win was in the succeeding school year.

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