Westmoreland baseball notebook: Section 1-5A provides intrigue

Sunday, May 19, 2024 | 6:55 PM

Section 1-5A was an anomaly.

It’s rare for four baseball teams to tie for first place, an issue that presented such a seeding dilemma for the WPIAL steering committee that it had to “throw out” numbers and focus solely on creating the best quarterfinal matchups.

“That’s what we did. Class 5A is one where anybody could scratch their head,” committee chairman Bob Bozzuto said. “There’s no rhyme or reason to a multiple number of combinations.”

But getting a third matchup between Penn-Trafford (17-3) and Fox Chapel (14-6) shows what Bozzuto was talking about.

The teams will play 7 p.m. Monday in the quarterfinals at Gateway.

Fox Chapel, Penn-Trafford, Franklin Regional and Plum all tied with 9-3 records. They all went 3-3 against each other.

Penn-Trafford swept Plum, and Franklin Regional went 2-0 against Penn-Trafford.

“We didn’t have a clear-cut winner,” Penn-Trafford coach Lou Cortazzo said. “Every game was a battle that came down to the last inning. You have four really good teams in the playoffs.”

Section 1 went 3-1 in the first round, with Plum the only team to lose. No. 6 Franklin Regional (13-7) will play No. 3 North Hills (12-4) in the quarters at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Fox Chapel.

Penn-Trafford and Fox Chapel split their two matchups, each winning by one run.

Fox Chapel won 3-2 in eight innings at home, then Penn-Trafford posted a 3-2 walk-off win in Harrison City.

“Fox Chapel has battled us the last few years,” Cortazzo said. “It’s great competition. It will probably come down to the seventh again with another exciting finish. Our kids have rallied all season.”

It could be an all-Section 1 semifinal if Franklin Regional wins.

Power trip

Franklin Regional sophomore second baseman Luke Williams has shown flashes of power this season.

After hitting just one home run last season, the Virginia commit had four in his last six games.

He went deep against Armstrong, Kiski Area, Plum and Uniontown.

“I have been working on swinging harder and getting my bat speed up,” Williams said. “I was in the high 60s (mph), and now I’m high 70s. I am a big numbers guy.

“I was hoping to hit close to 10 homers this season.”

Williams could not keep his hot streak going against Penn-Trafford because he missed the two-game series with an illness.

But he returned for the playoff opener against Connellsville and scored a run in a 2-1 win.

Perfect Game USA has Williams ranked as the No. 10 player in the Class of 2026 in its national rankings.

More quarterfinals

Some local teams will play under the lights Monday.

Hempfield and Norwin finally will get back to action when they open the 6A playoffs. Neither team has played since May 8.

No. 4 seed Hempfield (14-6) plays No. 5 Seneca Valley (11-8) at 7 p.m. at Plum, and No. 6 Norwin (11-9) takes on No. 3 North Allegheny (14-6) at 7 p.m. at Boyce-Mayview Park in Upper Sr. Clair.

Two other local teams also will look to advance Monday.

In Class 4A, No. 5 Latrobe (18-3) will face No. 4 Montour (13-6) in the quarterfinals a 2 p.m. Monday at West Mifflin.

And in Class 2A, No. 5 Greensburg Central Catholic (11-5) meets No. 4 Burgettstown (11-3) at 7 p.m. at Peterswood Park in Peters Township.

Greatest hit

Greensburg Salem’s Tyler Martin finished as the batting average leader in Westmoreland County during the regular season. He went 33 for 60 for a .550 average.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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