Greensburg Salem, Yough tabbed with top 2 seeds in Class 4A baseball playoffs
Friday, May 10, 2019 | 9:21 PM
When the Greensburg Salem baseball team convened for its first practice, coach Bill Wisniewski told his players to forget about how the 2018 season ended.
He told them to focus on this season, and that’s what the Golden Lions did.
Greensburg Salem (14-2, 10-2) shared the Section 1-4A title with Yough (13-7, 10-2) and on Friday was awarded the No. 1 seed by the WPIAL for the upcoming playoffs. Yough received the second seed.
Greensburg Salem claimed its first section title since 2012. The Golden Lions are the only team in Class 4A to receive a first-round bye.
They were seeded No. 8 in the 2018 playoffs and after defeating South Park in the opening round, they knocked off No. 1 Blackhawk in the quarterfinals, 1-0, to reach the semifinals.
And while the Golden Lions were beaten by Ringgold in the semifinals and Hopewell in the third-place game, history was made.
“That victory against Blackhawk was big for our program,” Wisniewski said. “They players did what I asked this season. I jumped on them at the first practice and told them what we did last year doesn’t mean anything this year, and they bought into it.”
Wisniewski said seeding doesn’t really matter when it comes to an elimination tournament.
“I told the players that last year we were a lower seed,” Wisniewski said. “We won the first game and then battled the top seed and grinded out a win against Blackhawk. That did a lot for the program. Seeding doesn’t matter, what does matter is that we show up and play to our potential.”
Junior pitcher Aaren Putt agreed.
“Everyone hopes for a No. 1 seed,” Putt said. “We just have to worry about us, and whoever we play we have to be the better team that day.”
Greensburg Salem, which finished the regular season on a six-game winning streak, has a high-powered offense that has outscored opponents 160-48.
They Golden Lions have five batters with a .400 batting average or better — Noah Sweeney (.457, 21 hits, 13 RBIs), Jack Oberdorf (.429, 24 runs, 21 hits, 22 RBIs), Matt Wicker (.426, 18 runs, 23 hits, 27 RBIs, 8 doubles), Putt (.413, 19 runs, 19 hits, 13 RBIs) and Hayden Teska (.400, 18 hits, 11 RBIs).
Wicker (5-1, 2.52 ERA) and Putt (5-1, 2.65 ERA) have led the way on the mound.
Yough coach Craig Spisak said he didn’t know what to expect from the seeding.
“I figured we’d be in the top 5,” Spisak said. “Based on past experience, maybe that’s why Greensburg Salem was seeded higher. Beating Blackhawk was a big win for their program.
“You never know. I didn’t even try to figure it out. You have to go out and play. If you want to win it, you have to win four games. Our job is getting the kids focused.”
The last time Yough won the section was in 2016. It lost a 3-1 decision to Knoch at Highlands in the opening round of the playoffs.
Yough concluded its season with a win against Derry on Monday. The Cougars open the playoffs against Central Valley (7-8) at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Shaler.
Spisak said he’s not concerned about the nine-day layoff between games. The Cougars will scrimmage Connellsville on Saturday.
“Going into the year, you’re always hopeful about making the playoffs,” Spisak said. “We did well in Florida, and we continued that up here. I’m happy how the season has gone, and we’ve continued to get better.”
It didn’t hurt that Yough has one of the top pitchers in the WPIAL in senior left-hander Jarett Bach.
The Pitt commit is 6-0 with an ERA of 0.51. He’s struck out 87 in 41 innings and has a whip of 0.90.
Junior Mike Bell is 6-2 with 43 strikeouts in 51 innings and an ERA of 1.50.
The Cougars’ top hitters are all juniors: Cody Ulander (.380, 22 runs, 25 hits), Ray Halahurich (.390, 18 runs, 21 hits, 15 RBIs) and Stave Manon (.370, 20 hits, 19 RBIs).
In Class 6A, Penn-Trafford was seeded No. 1, ahead of Pine-Richland, Bethel Park and North Allegheny.
The Warriors (16-3) have a strong pitching staff. They gained a lot of confidence by winning the fall league championship. They have a first-round bye and away a quarterfinal matchup with either Upper St. Clair (12-6) or Hempfield (11-9). The ninth-seeded Spartans will play the Panthers at 4 p.m. Thursday at West Mifflin.
Norwin (13-6) is the No. 7 seed and will play No. 10 Mt. Lebanon (10-10) at 2 p.m. Thursday at West Mifflin.
“Their pitchers were outstanding,” Spisak said. “I knew they’d be tough to beat.”
Despite having the best record in Class 5A, Franklin Regional (16-1) was seeded No. 2 behind West Allegheny (18-2, 12-0). The Panthers have a first-round bye and will play either South Fayette (11-7) or Montour (11-9) in the quarterfinals.
In Class 4A, No. 12 Mt. Pleasant (9-8) plays No. 5 Ringgold (12-5) at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Seton Hill, and No. 11 Belle Vernon (10-7) takes on No. 6 Beaver (10-7) at 2 p.m. at Fox Chapel.
No. 11 Jeannette (9-7) plays No. 6 Carmichaels (15-2) at 2 p.m. Thursday at Seton Hill in Class 2A.
In Class A, No. 5 Greensburg Central Catholic (9-8) faces No. 12 Rochester (7-7) at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Shaler, and No. 6 Monessen (12-5) takes on No. 11 St. Joseph (7-7) at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Seton Hill.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .