PIAA Class 5A baseball championship preview: Shaler vs. Strath Haven

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Wednesday, June 14, 2023 | 7:19 PM


This is the sixth season the PIAA has hosted six state championship baseball games.

The WPIAL is sending three teams to the state baseball championships at Penn State, including Shaler in Class 5A.

The WPIAL has won three 5A state baseball title games in five years of 5A baseball. Latrobe beat Whitehall in 2017, and Bethel Park won back-to-back PIAA 5A championships over Red Land in 2021 and Selinsgrove last year.

Here is a look at the third and final PIAA baseball championship game set for Thursday.

PIAA Class 5A baseball championship

Shaler (22-4) vs. Strath Haven (22-4)

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

District seeds

Shaler was the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL playoffs and No. 1 seed out of District 7 in the PIAA playoffs after winning the D-7 title by beating Bethel Park in the WPIAL finals. … Strath Haven was the No. 1 seed out of District 1 after beating Upper Dublin in the D-1 finals.

Coaches

Brian Junker, Shaler; Brian Fili, Strath Haven

Players to watch

Miguel Hugas, Shaler, sr., P/CF; Jake McDonough, Strath Haven, jr., OF

Path to Penn State

Shaler – Defeated Muhlenberg from District 3 in the first round, 7-1, knocked off Penn-Trafford from the WPIAL in the quarterfinals, 4-1, and then beat District 12 champion Monsignor Bonner in the semifinals, 9-3.

Strath Haven – Eliminated Lower Dauphin from District 3 in the first round, 10-0, rolled past District 4 champion Selinsgrove, 14-3, in the state quarterfinals, and then blanked District 3 runner-up Greencastle-Antrim in the semifinals, 2-0.

Championship factoids

Shaler

• The Titans are 18-9 all-time in PIAA baseball games.

• This is Shaler’s third PIAA baseball championship game. The Titans beat James M. Coughlin 43 years ago, 5-2, to win the 1980 PIAA 3A baseball championship. They lost to Chambersburg in the 1999 finals, 4-3.

• The Titans are 3-0 in the state playoffs this spring in their 12th appearance. They first qualified in 1980 and last appeared in the PIAA playoffs in 2019 when they lost in the first round to Lampeter-Strasburg, 5-1.

• Alabama commit Miguel Hugas has been the starting pitcher in all three state playoff games and was the winning pitcher in both the quarterfinals and semifinals. The senior pitcher and center fielder also had two hits and four RBIs in the opening-round win for Shaler.

• Senior Derek Leas is expected to get the start for Mt. Lebanon. He allowed four hits and no runs in 6⅓ innings pitched in the Titans’ 2-0 WPIAL semifinal win over Plum.

• Shaler has won 10 games in a row.

Strath Haven

• The Panthers are 3-3 all-time in PIAA baseball games.

• Strath Haven is playing in its first state championship game. The Panthers were 0-3 in PIAA baseball playoff games coming into this postseason, losing first-round games in 2010, 2021 and 2022. The Panthers lost to Archbishop Wood in the opening round last spring, 5-4.

• Junior outfielder Jake McDonough does not lead Strath Haven in any offensive categories, but he has been swinging a hot stick on the Path to Penn State. He is 6 for 10 in the state playoffs with three runs scored, a double and a triple. He is second on the team in home runs this spring.

• Senior Alex Pak has thrown two shutouts in the PIAA playoffs. Pak blanked Lower Dauphin on six hits with four strikeouts, and then he shut out Greencastle-Antrim in the semifinals, allowing only three hits and striking out 10.

• Strath Haven has won seven straight games.

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