Leechburg rewarded for strong season, gets Class A’s No. 3 seed in WPIAL baseball playoffs

Friday, May 12, 2023 | 7:45 PM

In the regular season Leechburg was the lone Class A team to push two-time defending champion Union to the limit.

The Blue Devils lost both games, 4-2 and 17-16, and finished second in Section 2-A, but they were rewarded for their performance against the Scotties, receiving the third seed and a bye in the WPIAL Class A playoffs.

“It’s exciting,” Leechburg coach Heath Shimer said. “I guess we get the week off, so we can heal up a little bit and get ready. We were expecting a fourth seed because we had been ranked there in the Trib rankings pretty much all year, and I didn’t know if we had the body of work from previous years, but I think the WPIAL looked at the strength of schedule we had and saw we weren’t just playing Class A teams in nonsection. The boys were rewarded for their hard work this year.”

The Blue Devils (13-4) scored the best seed of any Alle-Kiski Valley baseball team. They play the winner of No. 6 Bishop Canevin/No. 11 Western Beaver in the quarterfinals at a site and date to be determined.

Plum (12-7) was the lone section champion in the A-K Valley, splitting the Section 1-5A title with Penn-Trafford. The Mustangs received the No. 4 seed and will play No. 13 Trinity at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Gateway.

Plum rallied with three runs in the bottom of the seventh and beat Fox Chapel, 7-6, in the section finale Tuesday to earn the section crown split, but Penn-Trafford received the third seed and a bye.

“We are excited to play,” Plum coach Carl Vollmer said. “It’s easy to do, but we can’t get caught up in things we can’t control like the seeding. We are going to focus on playing and being as prepared as we can be for the playoffs. We need to focus on Plum. It’s not who we play but how we play that matters the most. We will try to get some information on Trinity and get ready to play. This is an exciting time, and we are looking forward to competing.”

Fox Chapel (12-8) ended up third in Section 1 and is the eight seed. The Foxes play No. 9 Mars at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Plum. The winner advances to play top seed Shaler.

Kiski Area (9-9) is the lone Class 4A team from the A-K Valley in the postseason. The Cavaliers are seeded 12th and face No. 5 Latrobe at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Norwin.

Class 3A is the largest bracket with 18 teams, and three teams from the A-K Valley made the cut.

Valley (10-10) and Burrell (7-9) are matched up in a play-in game at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Latrobe.

Burrell swept Valley in the regular season 7-2 and 7-5. The teams were part of a three-way tie for fourth in Section 1 with Derry, and all three advanced to the playoffs.

The Burrell/Valley winner moves on to play top-seeded Riverside at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Seneca Valley.

After finishing as the runner-up in Section 1, Freeport (14-5) received the No. 8 seed and will face No. 9 South Allegheny at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Plum. The Yellowjackets are in the tournament after winning a combined 10 games the last two seasons.

“It was a fair seed and was pretty much where we expected to be after we lost to East Allegheny (Wednesday),” Freeport coach Ed Carr said. “We just didn’t show well in that game, and we knew it was going to hurt our seeding. South Allegheny is a good team. They have some good wins on their resume. It should be a good game in Round 1.”

Riverview (9-7) finished in a tie for second in Section 3-2A standings with Greensburg Central Catholic, but the Centurions swept the two-game series, so the Raiders were the third-place team.

They are the 10th seed in the 2A bracket and play No. 7 Charleroi at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Gateway. The winner advances to play No. 2 Seton LaSalle.

Two years ago, the Raiders made a run as a double-digit seed to the Class A championship, where they lost to Union.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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