Western Pennsylvania Baseball League sets plans for season with 20 teams on board

Wednesday, June 10, 2020 | 8:17 PM

Bob Johnston was trying to find a league where Gateway high school players could play this summer.

After the coronavirus ended high school seasons across the state, baseball players around the WPIAL were left wondering where they could play.

“I made a call to Ryan Encapera in the Fayette County League and asked him if they needed a team,” Johnston said, one of the organizers. “He said yes, but he wasn’t sure umpires from Fayette County would travel to Monroeville.”

So Johnston called Bill Chruscial, who schedules umpires in the area to see if he could handle the games. But Chruscial said he knew of teams wanting to play, so they decided to see how many were interested.

“That was at the end of April when the high school and American Legion seasons were canceled,” Johnston said. “Word got out and soon Geno Sedlak, a local umpire from the Mon Valley, called and said he had teams that wanted to play. It snowballed from there.”

The Western Pennsylvania Baseball League was formed, and Wednesday they met to make further plans for the season.

Barring last-minute changes, they will have 20 teams playing in three divisions.

The largest division will include Highlands, Valley, Kiski Area, Gateway, Plum, Franklin Regional, Jeannette and two teams from Norwin. A five-team division will include Bethel Park, South Park, Baldwin, Upper St. Clair and Elizabeth Forward. A six-team division will include Albert Gallatin, Belle Vernon, Ringgold, Frazier and two teams from Thomas Jefferson.

They also modified the rules for the league — no pitch count, no mandatory days rest, no roster limit, free substitution, batting orders that include between nine and 12 players, and if a game is tied after seven innings, one extra inning with a runner on third with no outs.

“We just want kids to play,” Johnston said. “We’re not worried about keeping standings because everyone will make the end-of-the-season playoffs.”

Johnston said they hope to begin the season June 17. Most games will be played Monday through Thursday. The regular season is scheduled to end July 24 with a postseason tournament to follow.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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