PIAA Class A baseball championship preview: Eden Christian vs. Faith Christian

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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | 3:12 AM


The PIAA baseball championships return Thursday and Friday to Penn State’s Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, where the games have been held since 2011.

The WPIAL is sending three teams to Happy Valley this season, including Eden Christian in the Class A final. The Warriors are trying to become the first WPIAL team to win the state’s smallest classification since Vincentian Academy in 2018.

Here is a look at this year’s matchup.

PIAA Class A baseball championship

Eden Christian (19-6) vs. Faith Christian (22-0)

10:30 a.m. Friday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, Penn State

District seeds

Eden Christian was the No. 2 seed in the WPIAL playoffs and qualified for states as the district runner-up. Faith Christian was the No. 1 seed in District 1 playoffs and won the title in a four-team bracket.

On the air

Pennsylvania Cable Network’s online streaming service, PCN Select

Coaches

Mark Feldman, Eden Christian; Nick Koffel, Faith Christian

Players to watch

Brady Hull, Eden Christian; Reid Miller, Faith Christian

Path to Penn State

Eden Christian defeated District 5 champion Conemaugh Township, 6-3, in the first round; WPIAL third-place qualifier Avella, 11-4, in the quarterfinals; and District 10 runner-up Saegertown, 7-5, in the semifinals.

Faith Christian defeated District 11 champion Nativity BVM, 1-0, in the first round; District 2 champion MMI Prep, 11-0 in six innings, in the quarterfinals; and District 6 champion Bishop McCort, 6-1, in the semifinals.

Championship factoids

Eden Christian

• This is Eden’s second appearance in the state finals. The team lost to District 3 champion Halifax, 9-1, in the Class A final in 2021.

• Senior first baseman Caleb Emswiler is a Gardner Webb recruit. He is batting .443 with 40 RBIs, 24 runs and six home runs.

• The Warriors average close to 10 runs per game and three players are batting better than .440.

• Sophomore third baseman Brady Hull leads the team in batting average (.514) and RBIs (41), while also scoring 39 runs. He has 18 extra-base hits, including five home runs.

• Sophomore shortstop Brett Feldman has scored a team-high 31 runs with a .478 average.

• Senior pitcher Enzo Natale has a 3.29 ERA in 12 appearances. He has thrown a team-high 38⅓ innings with 62 strikeouts and 37 walks.

• Sophomore Noah Emswiler has 2.05 ERA in a team-high 13 appearances. He has struck out 38 and walked 18 in 30⅔ innings.

• Hull, who has pitched sparingly this season, started the quarterfinal and allowed only two runs on two hits in five innings. Noah Emswiler and Natale combined to pitch seven innings in the semifinal.

• Eden Christian is a private school in Ohio Township.

Faith Christian

• The private school in Quakertown, Bucks County, is making its first appearance in the state baseball finals.

• Three PIAA playoff opponents have scored one combined run against the pitching tandem of senior Grayson Weikel and junior Reid Miller. Both are eligible to pitch in the finals.

• Weikel is 9-0 with a 1.72 ERA, 73 strikeouts and 16 walks in 44⅔ innings. The right-hander pitched the semifinals and allowed one run in seven innings. Weikel is committed to Cedarville University, an NCAA Division II program in Ohio.

• Miller is 7-0 with a 0.39 ERA. The right-hander has 75 strikeouts and 18 walks in 36⅓ innings.

• Weikel, outfielders Brandon Labs and Jagger Verbit, catcher Kendri Beltre and infielders Miller and Ethan Johnson earned first-team all-league honors in the Bicentennial Athletic League.

• Outfielder Noah Wilson went 2 for 3 with three RBIs in Faith Christian’s semifinal win over Bishop McCort.

• Miller threw a six-inning shutout in the state quarterfinals, allowing three hits. He also pitched in the District 1 final, striking out 13 in an 11-5 win over Delco Christian.

PIAA Class A history lesson

• Clarion defeated DuBois Central Catholic in an all-District 9 PIAA Class A title game last season, 4-1.

• West Middlesex from District 10 was the PIAA Class A champion five years ago in 2019.

•Devon Prep from D-1 edged Elk County Catholic from D-9 15 years ago in 2014 in the only Class A state title game to go into extra innings, 2-1 in nine innings.

•Camp Hill from District 3 captured state gold 15 years ago over Serra Catholic, 7-3, in the 2009 PIAA title game.

Neshannock beat District 4 Muncy 20 years ago to win state gold in 2004, 8-4.

•Camp Hill knocked off Linesville from District 10 to win the first PIAA Class A state baseball title 25 years ago in 1999.

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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