PIAA Class 5A baseball championship preview: Bethel Park vs. Red Land

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021 | 5:01 PM


History is being made in Happy Valley this week as the WPIAL sends a record 10 baseball and softball teams to Penn State to compete in the PIAA championships.

This is the fourth year the PIAA has crowned six championships in both baseball and softball.

In 2017, the WPIAL sent seven teams to the finals, and the number grew to eight in 2018. Only five WPIAL baseball or softball teams reached the state finals in 2019.

Bethel Park (21-4) vs. Red Land (24-4)

4:30 p.m. Thursday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, Penn State

The Path to Penn State

WPIAL runner-up Bethel Park defeated District 3 runner-up Northern, 5-1; District 11 champion Southern Lehigh, 7-2; and District 6 champion Central Mountain, 1-0, in nine innings.

District 3 champion Red Land defeated District 1 third-place Marple Newtown, 6-3; District 12 champion Archbishop Wood, 5-0; and District 3 fifth-place Manheim Central, 8-0.

District Postseason

Bethel Park defeated Chartiers Valley, 9-0; Shaler, 1-0; and lost to Franklin Regional in the WPIAL championship, 2-1, to finish as runner-up in District 7.

Red Land defeated Susquehannock, 10-0; York Suburban, 12-3; and Cocalico, 7-6, in the District 3 championships.

Performers to Watch

Bethel Park

Senior Eric Chalus to get the start for the Black Hawks with a 10-0 record and a 0.85 ERA this season. Junior David Kessler is batting .470 with a team high 27 RBIs. He tripled and scored on an error for the game’s only run in the state semifinals. Chalus is batting .400, while Cody Geddes is hitting .349 with 24 RBIs.

Red Land

The Patriots are led by one of the best players in the state in center fielder Benny Montgomery. The senior has attracted MLB scouts all year and is expected to be drafted in the Top 20 overall picks next month. Montgomery is hitting .426 with seven homers and 21 RBIs. Red Land is expected to start Kaden Peifer, who threw a no-hitter with 10 strikeouts in the Patriots’ 5-0 win over Archbishop Wood in the state quarterfinals.

Streaks

Bethel Park has a modest three-game winning streak while Red Land has won 13 straight games.

Factoids

• Bethel Park has a PIAA playoff record of 19-9. This will be the Black Hawks’ fifth appearance in a state baseball championship game. BP beat West Lawn Wilson, 13-6, to win the 1988 state crown. The Black Hawks lost to Montoursville, 5-0 in 1985, fell to Pennridge, 6-5 in nine innings in 1987, and dropped a 14-3 decision to West Chester East in 2003.

• Red Land has a 15-4 record in the PIAA playoffs. This will be the Patriots third appearance in the baseball state finals. Red Land beat Indian Valley, 7-1 in 1990, and the Patriots defeated Lampeter-Strasburg, 8-3 in 2019.

• The three previous PIAA Class 5A baseball champions were Latrobe (WPIAL) in 2017, Marple Newtown (District 1) in 2018 and Red Land (District 3) in 2019.

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