Head of the Class: Baseball Player and Coach of the Year for each classification

Monday, June 24, 2019 | 1:37 AM

The WPIAL baseball playoffs were as unpredictable as ever this season with only one top-seeded team winning a title.

That was California in Class A.

But that led to some unexpected champions and some long-awaited celebrations. Two first-year coaches claimed WPIAL titles, while Shaler and Seton LaSalle each were finally crowned as champions after long waits.

Here’s a look at the TribLive HSSN “Head of the Class” for this season with our picks for player of the year (POY) and coach of the year (COY) in each classification.

Class 6A

POY: Matt Wood, Pine-Richland

The Penn State-bound catcher was instrumental in Pine-Richland’s WPIAL championship run. He batted .429 with a .564 OBP with a team-high 26 RBIs and five home runs.

COY: Dan Miller, Penn-Trafford

The Warriors won a section title for the first time in 12 years and reached the WPIAL finals for the first time in team history. Miller, in his fifth season, saw the team’s record improve from 9-9 in 2015 to 18-5 this year.

Class 5A

POY: J.J. Wetherholt, Mars

The sophomore shortstop batted .500 with 22 RBIs for the WPIAL semifinalist. He’s already committed to play college baseball for West Virginia.

COY: Brian Junker, Shaler

Fifth-seeded Shaler didn’t enter the playoffs as the favorite, but Junker guided the Titans to their first WPIAL title since 1999.

Class 4A

POY: Jarett Bach, Yough

The Pitt recruit went 7-1 with a 0.57 ERA and led Yough to the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals. Bach struck out 112 batters, including 25 in the postseason.

COY: Noah Medich, Beaver

The first-year coach took over a program that went 9-10 overall last season, 4-10 in its section, and led sixth-seeded Beaver to a WPIAL title and a state runner-up finish.

Class 3A

POY: Andre Good, Steel Valley

The Youngstown State recruit batted .420 with 30 runs, 26 RBIs, four triples and five home runs. He went 3 for 5 and drove in the game-winning run in the WPIAL final.

COY: Patrick Loughran, Steel Valley

Like Medich, Loughran also won a WPIAL title in his first season as head coach. The Ironmen went 13-9 overall but made a title-winning run as a No. 4 seed in the WPIAL playoffs.

Class 2A

POY: Mark Black, Serra Catholic

With good reason, playoff opponents often chose to walk Black rather than pitch to him. The St. John’s recruit batted .521 with 14 home runs, 41 RBIs and 33 runs scored.

COY: Mike Wagner, Seton LaSalle

The Rebels won their first WPIAL title since 1995 following runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2014. Wagner was still a player 24 years ago when Seton last celebrated a title.

Class A

POY: Jacob Swartz, California

The senior was a two-way standout for the WPIAL champions. Swartz went 7-0 with a 1.99 ERA, and also led the team with a .463 batting average and 31 runs.

COY: Lou Pasquale, California

The Trojans dropped down from Class 2A and made themselves right at home. Pasquale’s team went 19-2 overall with section and WPIAL titles included.

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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