Scholastic Notebook – 06/05/2015

Friday, June 5, 2015 | 9:37 PM

Four WPIAL baseball teams have made it to the PIAA semifinals. The main ingredient to their postseason success is simple.


Of course, pitching always is key in baseball, but you might be scratching your head to come up with a group of WPIAL teams that made it this far and that have such a strong common thread of stellar pitching between them. The four are Shaler (Class AAAA), Knoch (AAA), Neshannock (AA) and Quaker Valley (AA). Of the four, only Neshannock has really made a huge impact offensively, scoring 45 runs in six postseason games.

But the pitching of all four teams has been impeccable.

* Jake Potock’s right arm has carried Shaler in the postseason. The Titans have five wins in the postseason and Potock has four of them. He did not pitch in the WPIAL semifinals, and Shaler lost to Central Catholic. He did not pitch in the PIAA quarterfinals Thursday when Shaler beat State College, 8-5.  In 28 postseason innings, Potock has allowed only 17 hits and struck out 34. He has given up five runs in four games, and three of those came against Bethel Park in the WPIAL consolation game.

* Knoch is having the best season since the school started the program in 1990, and two of the main reasons are Cole Shinsky and Alex Stobert. As a one-two pitching punch, they have been terrific, going a combined 15-0 this season. Shinsky is 9-0 and Stobert 6-0. The WPIAL AAA champion Knights have allowed only five runs in six postseason games and Stobert has not allowed a run in 17 1/3 playoff innings. Shinsky is 4-0 in the postseason.

* Neshannock’s pitching has been excellent and junior Frank Fraschetti has had a zero tolerance policy since the playoffs started. Fraschetti has pitched three playoff games and not allowed a run in any of them (vs. Waynesburg, Quaker Valley and Bellwood-Antis). Against Bellwood-Antis in the first round of the PIAA playoffs, he pitched nine scoreless innings. Overall, he has allowed only eight hits in 23 innings and struck out 23. Rich Serignese also has pitched well.

* Quaker Valley lost to Neshannock in the WPIAL AA championship. The Quakers gave up four runs in that game. Take away that game and Quaker Valley’s pitchers have allowed just four runs in five postseason games.

The PIAA semifinals are Monday. Shaler plays North Penn, Knoch faces Donegal and Neshannock meets Quaker Valley. The winners will likely be well-armed.

Softball Semifinals

Three WPIAL teams have made it to the PIAA softball semifinals – Hempfield in Class AAA, Trinity in Class AAA and Deer Lakes in Class AA.

Both Hempfield and Trinity will face teams that posted shutout wins in the quarterfinals. Hempfield will play Cumberland Valley, a team near Harrisburg. Cumberland Valley beat Lower Dauphin, 1-0, in the quarterfinals. After the game, Cumberland Valley’s players celebrated by jumping in a creek near the field.

Trinity will play Bellwood-Antis, a team that has two shutouts in two PIAA games. In four postseason games (District 6 and PIAA), Bellwood-Antis has allowed only two runs.

Deer Lakes plays Cambridge Springs in the Class AA semifinals.

Foxes in Finals

The Fox Chapel boys volleyball team has made it to the PIAA Class AAA championship and will play Parkland at Penn State tomorrow (Saturday) at 1 p.m. No matter what happens, one of these teams will experience a state volleyball championship for the first time.

Parkland, an Allentown-area school, has never made it to the state title match. Fox Chapel made it in 2007 and lost to Landisville Hempfield.

Joe Knows Football

Monessen has a new football coach who has five WPIAL championships and two PIAA titles on his resume. But they came in a different sport.

Joe Salvino was named Monessen’s football coach Tuesday night. He’s known quite well in Monessen. He has been the Greyhounds’ boys basketball coach for 31 seasons, during which he won those WPIAL and PIAA titles.

Salvino does have football coaching experience. He hasn’t coached in a few years, but he was an assistant football coach for 26 years under Jack Scarvel and Andy Pacak.

Salvino will be one of only two coaches in the WPIAL to coach both football and boys basketball. The other is Dan Bradley, who coaches football at Ambridge and basketball at Avonworth.

“It’s a big task to coach both, but I will have some good people helping,” said Salvino, 64. “I’m excited. I coached football before and I enjoyed coaching it. I’m excited to get started.”

Rocco to Penn-Trafford

There was a significant move in WPIAL basketball coaching ranks this week when Jim Rocco was hired as Penn-Trafford’s boys coach.

Rocco had been the coach for 19 seasons at Penn Hills. He had plenty of success, winning two WPIAL title and one PIAA title. Although his record was 257-127, his program fell on tough times in recent years. The Indians won only 65 games the past eight seasons and missed the WPIAL playoffs the past four seasons.

“It’s tough to leave Penn Hills. I wouldn’t do it unless it was a unique opportunity,” said Rocco. “I’m excited for this opportunity. I think Penn-Trafford is a hard-working, blue-collar community. I have just come to really appreciate it. I think it has a great opportunity to be a really, really special place.”

Another for the Mountaineers

The West Virginia University football team got a WPIAL recruit from the class of 2016 this week when North Hills lineman Jake Buccigrossi made a verbal commitment to the Mountaineers. Buccigrossi had about a dozen scholarship offers, including ones from Arizona, Virginia, Temple and Northwestern.

He is the second WPIAL player from the class of 2016 to choose West Virginia. The other is Freeport linebacker-defensive end Logan Thimons, who committed before his junior season.

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