Westmoreland County WPIAL baseball playoff preview capsules for May 17, 2022

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Monday, May 16, 2022 | 6:13 PM


WPIAL baseball playoffs

Capsule previews

Class 5A

First round

12-Thomas Jefferson (13-6) vs. 5-Latrobe (12-7)

4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Hempfield

Winner plays: Winner of 13-Chartiers Valley (9-11) vs. 4-Mars (14-5) on Thursday in quarterfinals

Players to watch: T.J. Bucy, Sr., Thomas Jefferson; Logan Short, Sr., Latrobe

Last year’s finish: Thomas Jefferson — Lost to Franklin Regional, 14-3, in first round;

Latrobe — Lost to Peters Township, 9-5, in quarterfinals

Extra bases: After three straight losses, Thomas Jefferson won its last three games to build momentum for the playoffs. That included an 11-6 win over Laurel Highlands. The Jaguars finished third in arguably the toughest 5A section, with Peters Township and Bethel Park, the top two seeds, finishing ahead of them. … Section 1 champion Latrobe dropped four of its final six after winning eight of its first 10 games. Short and Vinny Amatucci are big bats for the Wildcats, who also rely heavily on Chase Sickenberger as a pitcher, shortstop and hitter.

9-Hampton (10-9) vs. 8-Penn-Trafford (13-6)

4:30 p.m. Tuesday at West Mifflin

Winner plays: Winner of 16-Connellsville (10-10) vs. 17-McKeesport (7-9)/1-Peters Township (18-1) on Thursday in quarterfinals

Players to watch: Vinny Matthews, Sr., Hampton; Jake Otto, Jr., Penn-Trafford

Last year’s finish: Hampton — Lost to West Allegheny, 14-1, in first round; Penn-Trafford — Lost to West Allegheny, 7-6, in quarterfinals

Extra bases: Hampton took second in Section 2-5A behind No. 4 Mars. The Talbots lost some momentum with a late-season slide, losing five of their final six. They fell, 23-6, to Pine-Richland. Mathews is a catcher and pitcher. Anthony Bucci and Cam Marshalwitz are additional offensive threats for the Talbots. … Penn-Trafford played one of the toughest nonsection schedules, earning wins over 6A Norwin and Hempfield, and 4A top seed Montour, and a sweep of section winner Latrobe. A young team with only two seniors, the Warriors have emerging talent in Otto, Tyler Freas, Dylan Grabowski, Brady Lane, Jason Sabol and others.

7-South Fayette (14-4-1) vs. 10-Franklin Regional (11-5)

7 p.m. Tuesday at Burkett Complex, Robinson

Winner plays: Winner of 15-Gateway (8-10) vs. 2-Bethel Park (14-3) on Thursday in quarterfinals

Players to watch: Michael DiMartini, Jr., South Fayette; Caden Smith, Sr., Franklin Regional

Last year’s finish: South Fayette — Lost to Peters Township, 6-4, in first round; Franklin Regional — Defeated Bethel Park, 2-1, in WPIAL championship

Extra bases: South Fayette finished a game back of West Allegheny in Section 3. The Lions won nine of their final 10 games, including a 6-3 victory over 4A No. 1 seed Montour. The Lions have a 2-2 tie with Farmington, Minn. … Franklin Regional won its third WPIAL title last year and returns several starters from that team, including a pitcher, infielder and outfielder, senior Jordan Suvak and others. The Panthers won seven of their final eight games and finished tied with Penn-Trafford for second in Section 1.

Class 3A

First round

10-Derry (11-6) vs. 7-New Brighton (9-9)

4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Highlands

Winner plays: Winner of 15-Waynesburg (5-11) vs. 2-South Park (14-5) on Thursday in quarterfinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Ryan Hood, Sr., Derry; Brock Budacki, Fr., New Brighton

Last year’s finish: Derry — Lost to McGuffey, 2-0, in quarterfinals; New Brighton — Lost to Derry, 10-0, in first round

Extra bases: Derry won a section title last year, its first since 1992, but finished second to upstart East Allegheny this year. The Trojans split with the Wildcats. Hood is a quality pitcher and a key hitter who will play at Pitt-Johnstown. … New Brighton is looking to avoid consecutive losses to Derry in the opening round. The third-place team from Section 1 won four in a row to close out the regular season. Budacki has budding potential, but his brother, junior Bobby Budacki, is the staff ace.

12-Mt. Pleasant (9-7) vs. 5-Yough (10-7)

2 p.m. Tuesday at Hempfield

Winner plays: Winner of 13-Keystone Oaks (5-11) vs. 4-Mohawk (13-4) on Thursday in quarterfinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Aaron Alakson, Sr., Mt. Pleasant; Al Novacek, Jr., Yough

Last year’s finish: Mt. Pleasant — Did not qualify; Yough — Lost to Deer Lakes, 5-4, in first round

Extra bases: Mt. Pleasant made a nice bounce-back after falling short of the playoffs last year, finishing in a three-way tie for second in Section 3 with Derry and Deer Lakes. Alakson is a Cal U commit. … Yough won Section 4 by three games over McGuffey, Southmoreland and Waynesburg. The Cougars were 8-3 in their last 11 games, including an 8-7 win over Mt. Pleasant last Tuesday. Novacek (5-1) is the Cougars’ top arm. He struck out 13 against Southmoreland. James Shoman can clear the bases.

14-Southmoreland (7-8) vs. 3-Avonworth (13-7)

7 p.m. Tuesday at Highlands

Winner plays: Winner of 11-Ellwood City (8-10) vs. 6-East Allegheny (11-5) Thursday in quarterfinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Anthony Govern, Sr., Southmoreland; Jon Bodnar, Sr., Avonworth

Last year’s finish: Southmoreland — Did not qualify; Avonworth — Lost to South Park, 8-2, in semifinals

Extra bases: Southmoreland has not been to the WPIAL playoffs since 2008. Seven starters came back from last year’s team and pushed the team across the finish line. The team has lost five of six. Ty Keffer and Govern are key starting pitchers. … Avonworth was the runner-up to South Park in Section 2. The Antelopes average 7.2 runs per game. Bodnar is hitting .500 with 31 hits, six doubles, 21 runs and 17 RBIs. Jack Hustwit leads the team with three home runs. Mason Horwat is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA.

Class A

First round

9-Leechburg (7-5) vs. 8-Greensburg Central Catholic (8-6)

4 p.m. Tuesday at Plum

Winner plays: 1-Eden Christian (15-0) on Thursday in quarterfinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Logan Kline, Jr., Leechburg; Max Kallock, Jr., GCC

Last year’s finish: Leechburg — Lost to Jefferson-Morgan, 7-1, in first round; GCC — Lost to Riverview, 6-2, in first round

Extra bases: Leechburg took third in Section 3, which houses top-seeded Eden Christian. The Blue Devils won four straight to close the book on the regular season, including a sweep of Riverview, the 10th seed. Tommy Burke is hitting .462, Owen McDermott .417, Braiden Turiak .389 and Kline .378. Kline has three homers and 13 RBIs, and McDermott, a key pitcher, has scored 18 runs. … GCC overcame elbow injuries that slowed the progression of its top two pitchers, Kallock and Zach David, to return to the postseason. Kallock and David remained in the lineup all year and have carried heavy bats. David is a Rollins recruit. Also watch senior infielder Ryan Appleby.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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