PIAA Class 4A baseball championship preview: Indiana vs. Holy Ghost Prep

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | 9:45 PM


The PIAA baseball finals return Thursday and Friday to Penn State, the state championship host since 2011.

The WPIAL is sending three teams to Happy Valley this season starting with Indiana in the Class 4A final. The Indians are trying to become the third WPIAL team in four years to win the 4A classification, following Montour in 2022 and New Castle in ‘21.

Here is a look at this year’s matchup.

PIAA Class 4A baseball final

Indiana (16-10) vs. Holy Ghost Prep (15-8)

1:30 p.m. Thursday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, Penn State

On the air

Pennsylvania Cable Network’s online streaming service, PCN Select

District seeds

Indiana was the No. 9 seed in the WPIAL playoffs and qualified for states as the district runner-up. Holy Ghost Prep was the No. 2 seed in the District 1 playoffs, which had a four-team bracket, and entered states as the district champion.

Coaches

Dan Petroff, Indiana; Greg Olenski, Holy Ghost Prep

Players to watch

Ben Ryan, Indiana; Jake Keaser, Holy Ghost Prep

Path to Penn State

Indiana defeated District 6 champion Bellefonte, 3-0, in the first round; District 3 champion East Pennsboro, 6-5, in the quarterfinals; and District 3 third-place Fleetwood, 10-3, in the semifinals.

Holy Ghost Prep defeated District 12 runner-up Constitution, 20-0 in three innings, in the first round; District 2 champion Dallas, 13-2 in six innings, in the quarterfinals; and District 4 champion Dansville, 8-6, in the semifinals.

Championship factoids

Indiana

• The Little Indians have reached the PIAA baseball finals for the first time.

• This is the team’s third appearance in the state playoffs after reaching the first round in 2000 and the quarterfinals last season.

• Dan Petroff is a first-year coach. He previously served as an Indiana assistant for 15 years in two separate stints. The Punxsutawney native played college baseball at Gulf Coast State and was drafted by the California Angels in the 31st round of the 1993 MLB draft.

• Senior third baseman Ben Ryan is a Quinnipiac recruit. He leads the team in batting average (.413), RBIs (27), extra-base hits (14) and home runs (six).

• Indiana has five players batting better than .300.

• Ryan also pitches and has a 3-1 record with a 0.55 ERA in 25⅔ innings over 11 appearances. He pitched a complete game in the semifinals.

• Junior pitcher Greg Minnick is a Texas Tech commit. The right-handed junior is 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA, 67 strikeouts and 24 walks in a team-high 34⅔ innings.

• In the PIAA quarterfinals, Minnick allowed five runs on three hits and four walks with seven strikeouts.

• Senior Trevor Smith is batting .339 with a team-high 24 runs.

Holy Ghost Prep

• The all-boys Catholic school from Bensalem is seeking its first state baseball title. In 2022, the team lost to Montour, 10-9, in the 4A final in its only other appearance.

• The Firebirds start seven sophomores, including shortstop Jake Keaser, a Virginia Tech commit. Keaser is batting .397 with 25 runs, 11 RBIs and nine extra-base hits.

• Five players are batting better than .300.

• Sophomore Edwin Rosado leads the team with a .443 average and 28 RBIs. He ranks second with 25 runs.

• Sophomore Tyler Bergkoetter has scored a team-high 26 runs and has a .329 average with 12 RBIs. He’s one of four players with at least 24 runs.

• Senior pitcher Justin Lucas is 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA. The 6-foot-4 left-hander has struck out 43 and walked 14 in a team-high 36 innings. Lucas last pitched in the quarterfinals, allowing five runs on seven hits in 5⅔ innings.

• Sophomore Mathew Riendeau is 4-1 with a 3.82 ERA in 33 innings, while Benjamin McNab is 3-3 with a 2.17 ERA in 29 innings. Reindeau has struck out 41 and walked 20. McNab has 20 strikeouts and nine walks.

• In the semifinals, Holy Ghost trailed by three runs in the fifth inning before rallying to defeat Danville.

• Among the team’s alumni is 2016 graduate Nolan Jones, an outfielder for the Colorado Rockies.

PIAA Class 4A history lesson

• Bellefonte from District 6 bested Dallas from District 2 to win the 2023 PIAA Class 4A title game, 7-1.

• Selinsgrove from District 4 was the PIAA Class 4A champion five years ago in 2019, beating Beaver, 7-4.

• La Salle College from District 12 captured state gold 10 years ago in the 2014 finals.

• North Penn from District 1 was the big winner 15 years ago in the 2009 PIAA 4A title game.

• Penn Manor from District 3 shut out State College from District 6 19 years ago to win the first PIAA Class 4A championship in 2005, 2-0.

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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