What to watch for in WPIAL sports for May 20, 2024: Baseball quarterfinals on tap

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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | 10:52 PM


Welcome to quarterfinals Monday in the 2024 WPIAL baseball playoffs.

For most teams, it’s a second taste of postseason baseball following a victory in the opening round last week.

However, for 19 district teams, it is the second-season opener after a long layoff.

Which begs the question, rest or rust?

All eight teams in 6A, four each in 5A and A and three teams in 2A hope to be sharp for their quarterfinals game Monday, or in the case of West Allegheny and Bethel Park in 5A, they have to wait an additional 24 hours before their playoff debut.

Here are the layoffs with which these first-round-bye teams are dealing:

• 15 days between games — Central Catholic

• 13 days between games — Mt. Lebanon

• 12 days between games — Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Fort Cherry, Union, Eden Christian Academy

• 11 days between games — Hempfield, Norwin, Bethel Park, West Allegheny, Bishop Canevin

• 10 days between games — Butler, North Hills, Seton LaSalle, Serra Catholic

•9 days between games — North Allegheny, Seneca Valley, Fox Chapel

The biggest layoff between the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason belongs to Pine-Richland.

It will be 17 days between the Rams beating North Allegheny on May 2 and when they take the field for their quarterfinals contest.

Speaking of which, Section 1 champion No. 2 Pine-Richland (16-4) will face No. 7 Central Catholic (10-10) at 3 p.m. on Monday at Matulevic Field in Shaler on Trib HSSN as the 6A playoffs finally begin.

It’s the first meeting of the season between the Rams and the Vikings.

Elsewhere in the 6A quarters, dozens of major-league baseball scouts are expected to converge on the Boyce-Mayview Complex in Upper St. Clair as two-time defending champion No. 1 Mt. Lebanon (16-4) is challenged by No. 8 Butler (6-12) at 4 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

They will be there to see Miami (Fla.) commit David Shields as the senior left-hander gets the call for the Blue Devils.

Immediately following that game at Boyce-Mayview, No. 3 North Allegheny (14-6) will go up against No. 6 Norwin (11-9) at 7 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

The teams met in late March with the host Tigers edging the Knights, 5-4.

Finally, No. 4 Hempfield (14-6) will battle No. 5 Seneca Valley (11-8) at Plum High School at 7 p.m.

The Raiders are 4-1 in their last five games, whereas the Spartans struggled down the stretch, going 2-5 in their last seven regular-season games.

Them again

Three of the four Class 5A quarterfinals games are rematches of section contests, including the two games set for Tuesday when No. 1 West Allegheny (16-3) faces No. 8 Shaler (16-5) and No. 4 Bethel Park tangles with No. 12 Trinity (9-8) for a third time.

On Monday, Section 1-5A foes No. 2 Fox Chapel (14-6) and No. 7 Penn-Trafford (17-3) square off for a third time in the rubber match of their season series at 7 p.m. at Gateway High School on Trib HSSN.

The Foxes and Warriors tied for the section crown with Franklin Regional and Plum in a rare four-way split.

Fox Chapel won the first game of their section series on March 25, 4-3, while Penn-Trafford won the rematch two days later, 3-2.

The one second-round game that is not a rematch has No. 3 North Hills (12-4) playing No. 6 Franklin Regional (13-7) at 4:30 p.m. at Fox Chapel High School on Trib HSSN.

The Panthers came back to win their first-round game over Connellsville, 2-1, while the Indians enjoyed an opening-round bye.

Dark horse turns the page

One of the biggest eyebrow raisers in recent WPIAL baseball playoffs took place Wednesday in Upper St. Clair when No. 16 Blackhawk stunned Class 4A top-seed Belle Vernon, 7-3.

Dylan Smith led the way as the winning pitcher and added two hits and three RBIs on offense.

Now the Cougars must do it again.

Blackhawk (8-10) looks to pull off another surprise when it goes up against No. 9 Indiana (10-9) at 7 p.m. at North Allegheny High School.

Greg Minnick pitched five scoreless innings and had 12 strikeouts in the win for the Little Indians.

In the three other Class 4A quarterfinals Monday:

• No. 4 Montour (13-6) battles No. 5 Latrobe (18-3) at 2 p.m. at West Mifflin H.S. Jake Robinson had a double and two RBIs to lead the Spartans past Uniontown in the first round 3-1, while Luke Niper-Smith was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring home the winning run for the Wildcats in a win over Hopewell, 3-2 in 8 innings.

• No. 2 Thomas Jefferson (18-2) will square off against No. 7 Chartiers Valley (12-6) at 2 p.m. at Boyce-Mayview in Upper St. Clair. Alex Warden was 3 for 4 with a double and an RBI as the Jaguars rolled past Ringgold, 11-3. Colton Prosperi was 3 for 3 with two runs scored in the Colts’ first-round win over Kiski Area, 5-2.

• No. 3 West Mifflin (17-2) will play No. 6 North Catholic (14-4) at 2 p.m. at Fox Chapel High School on Trib HSSN. Jayvon Thompson had a double, triple and two RBIs for the Titans in an opening-round win over Knoch, 9-3. The Trojans blanked Elizabeth Forward, 8-0, behind pitcher Thomas Schafale, who was also 2 for 3 with a home run.

Plenty of bracket busters

It was a rough first round for the higher-seeded teams in the WPIAL Class 3A baseball tournament.

Seeds No. 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8 lost last week.

The biggest surprise was No. 15 East Allegheny stunning No. 2 Mohawk, 10-1.

Joe Connors led the Wildcats attack by going 4 for 5 with a double, triple and five RBIs.

East Allegheny (12-6) will go up against No. 7 Avonworth (13-8) at 3:30 p.m. at Penn-Trafford High School.

The Antelopes were one of the higher seed survivors, shutting out Greensburg Salem, 7-0. Cooper Sharding threw a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts for the ’Lopes.

In the three other Class 3A quarters games Monday:

• Top-seed and defending district and state champion Riverside (14-1) will take on No. 9 South Park (13-7) at 4:30 p.m. at Neshannock High School. Zach Hare had two hits as the Panthers came back to defeat Keystone Oaks, 4-1. Cooper Hochendoner registered 15 strikeouts as the winning pitcher, plus he had the winning double as the Eagles came back to knock off Shady Side Academy, 3-2.

• No. 4 South Allegheny (16-4) will face No. 12 Shenango (11-9) at 4 p.m. at Plum High School. Trenton Popovich threw a two-hitter with 13 strikeouts as the Gladiators shut out McGuffey, 7-0 in the first round. Joe Campoli had two runs, two RBIs and picked up the save in the Wildcats upset of Valley, 5-3.

• No. 14 Burrell (12-8) tangles with No. 11 Neshannock (11-9) at 6:30 p.m. at Seneca Valley High School on Trib HSSN. A.J. McLafferty had a two-run triple in the Bucs’ upset of Mt. Pleasant in the first round 6-2. Jack Rynd registered eight strikeouts in the Lancers’ victory over Waynesburg Central, 6-1.

Second to none

Two Class 2A section runners-up collide when No. 3 Seton LaSalle (14-3) squares off against No. 6 Chartiers-Houston (10-8) at 4:30 p.m. at West Mifflin High School.

The Rebels finished second by a game behind Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Section 2, and the Buccaneers were two games in back of Burgettstown in Section 1.

Seton LaSalle is the defending district champion and has won two of the last four Class 2A titles.

Chartiers-Houston knocked off Freedom in the opening round, 7-4. Anthony Romano was 3 for 3 with a double, and Luke Camden had a double, home run and two RBIs for the Bucs.

In the other Class 2A second-round contests Monday:

• Top-seed Serra Catholic (15-1) makes its playoff debut against No. 8 Laurel (11-8) at 4 p.m. at North Allegheny High School on Trib HSSN. The Spartans defeated Charleroi to reach the quarterfinals 7-2. Hunter Kobialka threw a complete game to get the win for Laurel.

• No. 4 Burgettstown (11-3) clashed with No. 5 Greensburg Central Catholic (11-5) at 7 p.m. at Peterswood Park in Peters Township. Brodie Kuzior struck out 13 as the Blue Devils rolled past Jeannette, 10-3. Tyler Samide drove in two runs and picked up the save as the Centurions edged Washington, 3-2.

• No. 2 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (16-4), fresh off a first-round bye, plays No. 7 Riverview (13-6) at 4 p.m. at Seneca Valley High School. The Raiders advance to Round 2 thanks to Jack Loughran, who threw a two-hitter with nine strikeouts in a shutout of Beth-Center, 2-0.

Wash day

Peterswood Park in Peters Township is the site of a second-round game between a pair of Washington County section foes.

No. 3 Fort Cherry (12-3) fights No. 6 Avella (10-5) at 2 p.m. for a spot in the Class A final four.

The Rangers won the Section 1 title by two games, earning a first-round bye.

The Eagles ended a 15-year playoff victory drought when they defeated Springdale, 5-3, in the opening round.

Bryce Wright was the winning pitcher with 13 strikeouts and had two hits at the plate.

The teams split their section series with Fort Cherry winning the opener 14-4 before Avella took Game 2, 14-8.

In three other Class A quarterfinals matchups Monday:

• Top-seed Union (13-3) has a first-round bye as it prepares to play No. 8 Carmichaels (12-4) at 6 p.m. at the Burkett Complex in Robinson Township. Liam Lohr was the winning pitcher for the Mighty Mikes as he struck out nine Carlynton batters. He also had two hits and three RBIs in the win over the Cougars, 9-1.

• Defending champion and fourth seed Bishop Canevin (12-4) makes its first title defense when it takes on No. 5 Western Beaver (10-7) at 4 p.m. at Gateway High School. The Golden Beavers defeated Sewickley Academy, 11-5, as Luke Trimble collected three hits.

• No. 2 Eden Christian Academy (14-4), winner of Section 3 that earned it a first-round bye, battles No. 7 West Greene (12-5) at 4:30 p.m. at Peterswood Park in Peters Township.

Finally, the quarterfinals finale

After being delayed twice, the final second-round game of the 2024 WPIAL softball playoffs takes place at 2 p.m. Monday at Peterswood Park in Peters Township.

No. 4 Frazier (13-0) finally faces No. 5 West Greene (12-7).

The Commodores won the Section 3-A championship, earning an opening-round bye.

The Pioneers cruised past Leechburg in the first round 11-1. Emmaline Brazell had a double and three RBIs for West Greene.

Seven years ago, both of these programs were champions.

Frazier won the 2017 Class 2A crown, and West Greene won the second of five straight Class A championships.

Final four lacrosse

The semifinals of the 2024 WPIAL lacrosse playoffs take place Monday with boys and girls 3A and 2A final-four matches.

• In boys 3A, top seed Shady Side Academy (13-6) will face No. 4 North Allegheny (13-6) at 7:45 p.m. at Hampton High School in a match you can hear on Trib HSSN.

The Bulldogs cruised past Central Catholic in the quarterfinals 17-5, while the Tigers knocked off rival Pine-Richland, 11-8.

• No. 2 and defending champion Mt. Lebanon (14-4) battles No. 3 Upper St. Clair (13-3) at 7:45 p.m. at Bethel Park High School on Trib HSSN.

The Blue Devils rolled past Fox Chapel in the quarters 18-8, while the Panthers defeated rival Peters Township, 16-13.

• In boys 2A, seven-time defending champion and top seed Mars (15-3) takes on No. 4 Hampton (11-6) at 6 p.m. at Shaler High School.

The Fightin’ Planets destroyed Seton LaSalle in the second round 25-1 as Hampton crushed Bethel Park, 17-3.

• In a battle of green, No. 2 South Fayette (18-1) plays No. 3 Penn-Trafford (15-4) at 6 p.m. at Peters Township Stadium.

The Lions got a scare but survived Indiana in the quarters 9-8, while the Warriors got past Shaler, 13-6.

• In girls 3A, top seed Mt. Lebanon (17-0) squares off with No. 5 Shady Side Academy (12-4) at 6 p.m. at Hampton High School.

The Blue Devils scorched North Allegheny in the second round 17-3 as the Bulldogs edged Fox Chapel, 12-11.

• No. 2 and defending champion Pine-Richland (15-2) will face No. 3 Upper St. Clair (12-5) at 6 p.m. at Bethel Park High School on Trib HSSN.

The Rams knocked off Canon-McMillan in the quarterfinals 17-7, while the Panthers got by Peters Township, 13-10.

• In the girls 2A, top seed and defending champion Mars (15-2) will take on No. 4 Penn-Trafford (16-2) at 7:45 p.m. at Shaler High School.

The Fightin’ Planets disposed of Moon in the second round 15-4 as the Warriors barely got by Blackhawk, 15-14.

• No. 7 South Fayette (13-6) shoots for another surprise when it faces No. 3 Chartiers Valley (15-2) at 7:45 p.m. at Peters Township Stadium.

The Lions stunned No. 2 Indiana in the quarterfinals 12-8, while the Colts edged Quaker Valley, 10-9.

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