PIAA baseball, softball quarterfinals on tap in Thursday’s 3 things to watch in high school sports

Wednesday, June 6, 2018 | 7:24 PM

What was and what might have been.

That could be the theme for a handful of PIAA quarterfinal baseball and softball games involving WPIAL teams going head-to-head on Thursday.

What was:

Canon-McMillan and North Allegheny will meet for the second time in just over a week as they battle for a spot in the final four of the PIAA Class 6A baseball playoffs.

Last week, North Allegheny lost for the second straight year in the district championship game, falling to Canon-McMillan, 2-1. Zach Rohaley for the Big Macs and Luke Trueman for the Tigers were masterful on the hill in that title contest, but both pitched Monday in Round 1 state wins.

It is deja-vu all over again as Yogi Berra once said for the Belle Vernon and Mt. Pleasant softball teams.

Last year, Belle Vernon beat Mt. Pleasant, 1-0, in the WPIAL semifinals on its way to a second championship in three years. But in the rematch in the PIAA quarterfinals, the Vikings extracted revenge with a 5-4 triumph.

Two weeks ago, the two teams once again met in the district semifinals and for the second straight year, Belle Vernon blanked Mt. Pleasant, 1-0, en route to a third WPIAL crown in four years. Now, the Leopards and Vikings meet for a fourth time in the postseason in the last two years, with the Vikings hoping history repeats itself. What could have been:

The top two seeds in the WPIAL Class 6A and 5A softball brackets were Hempfield-Baldwin and West Allegheny-Albert Gallatin.

Both top seeds did what was expected as Hempfield captured a fourth consecutive title in Class 6A while West Allegheny made it back-to-back gold in 5A.

But both Baldwin and Albert Gallatin lost in the semifinals and bounced back to win their consolation game and earn second life in the state postseason.

Now the top two seeds from the WPIAL playoffs will meet Thursday in the state quarterfinals, with the Spartans facing the Highlanders and the Indians taking on the Colonials.

Two other WPIAL vs. WPIAL second-round state playoff games are Ringgold against Hopewell in Class 4A baseball, and Monessen taking on Union in Class A softball.

More PIAA baseball quarterfinals

Six other WPIAL baseball teams advanced to the second round with wins Monday and will be playing Thursday.

Two teams will play inside WPIAL boundaries with District 7 Class 2A winner Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic against District 5 champion Conemaugh Township at Peterswood Park in Peters Township. Greensburg Central Catholic faces District 6 Class A champion Homer-Center at North Allegheny.

WPIAL Class 3A champion Brownsville heads north to Slippery Rock against Bald Eagle while Northeast is the destination for WPIAL Class A champion Vincentian Academy as they face Oswayo Valley in DuBois.

Three district teams head east as Mars battles Marple Newtown in New Enterprise while fellow 5A district foe West Allegheny takes on Red Land at Mount Aloysius College.

In 3A, South Side Beaver heads to Somerset to take on District 6 champion Huntingdon.

More state softball

Besides the games mentioned above, six other WPIAL softball teams seek victories Thursday to advance to the state semifinals next Monday.

Two WPIAL runners-up head way east to Carlisle.

Latrobe goes up against Nazareth in 6A while Thomas Jefferson faces Interboro in 5A.

The finalists in the WPIAL 3A finals also hit the road as champion Southmoreland battles Hickory in DuBois while runner-up South Park will play at St. Francis of Loretto against Philipsburg-Osceola.

Mohawk will face Cochranton in a 2A quarterfinals game at Moniteau, and WPIAL A champion West Greene will play against McConnellsburg at Somerset.

Don Rebel is a TribLive High School Sports Network broadcaster and staff writer. Reach him at drebel@tribweb.com.

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