What to watch for in WPIAL sports for May 30, 2023: PIAA baseball, softball playoff berths up for grabs

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Monday, May 29, 2023 | 10:20 PM


While all eyes the next few days will be on the district golden parties at Wild Things Park in Washington and Lilley Field in California, there are other key games being played in the WPIAL baseball and softball playoffs.

Six of the district’s 10 consolation games will be played with a berth in the PIAA tournament at stake.

Class 3A baseball and softball, Class 4A baseball and the Class A softball consolation games are for positioning since all four brackets send four district teams to the state playoffs.

There are no consolation games in 6A baseball and softball.

All five WPIAL baseball consolation games will be played at Ross Memorial Park, part of the Washington & Jefferson College sports complex next to Wild Things Park in Washington, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The five district softball consolation games will all take place Tuesday, with three games at Gateway and two at West Mifflin.

Softball

At one point they were the two top-ranked teams in Class 4A — undefeated Section 2 champion Elizabeth Forward (17-1) and Section 3 co-champ Chartiers Valley (17-3).

Then the 4A semifinals took place with both games at West Mifflin.

It went south for both the Warriors and the Colts.

Elizabeth Forward had defeated section rival Belle Vernon twice in the regular season by a combined score of 16-3, However, the Leopards turned the tables and beat the Warriors, 10-1.

Chartiers Valley and Montour split their two regular-season games and ended up sharing the section crown. However, in the rubber game, whatever could go wrong for the Colts, did, and the Spartans were there to take advantage, cruising to a five-inning victory, 10-0.

Both EF and CV were victimized by the long ball with Warriors star pitcher Shelby Telegdy giving up three home runs while the Colts combo of Zoe Mangan and Taylor Walsh allowed two homers.

Now Elizabeth Forward and Chartiers Valley try to bounce back on the same field they suffered their semifinal losses.

First pitch at West Mifflin is 3 p.m. on Trib HSSN with the winner facing the District 10 champion (Cathedral Prep or Franklin).

• Class 5A consolation: Shaler (18-1) vs. South Fayette (12-10) at Gateway at 6 p.m. (Trib HSSN)

The Titans were the No. 2 seed and undefeated before losing to Trinity in a semifinal dandy, 5-4 in nine innings. The young Lions had their thrilling run through the bracket as the No. 12 seed end in the semifinals when they lost to top seed and defending champion Armstrong, 12-2. The winner plays the District 6/9 champion (Central Mountain/DuBois) in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.

• Class 3A consolation: Waynesburg Central (16-4) vs. Burrell (13-6) at Gateway at 4 p.m. (Trib HSSN)

After scoring eight runs in their first two playoff wins, the No. 3-seeded Raiders were shut out by Southmoreland in the semifinals, 7-0. The Buccaneers scored nine runs in their first two playoff wins, but they also were blanked in the semifinals by top seed and defending champion Avonworth, 3-0. The winner plays the District 6 champion (Forest Hills/Juniata) while the loser plays the District 10 champion (Fort LeBoeuf or Jamestown) in the state playoffs opening round.

• Class 2A consolation: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (14-4) vs. Greensburg Central Catholic (13-3) at Gateway at 2 p.m. (Trib HSSN)

Neither team has a lot of momentum after they each lost a one-sided semifinal game. After beating Shenango and upsetting No. 3 Serra Catholic in the quarterfinals, No. 6 OLSH lost big to Laurel, 11-1. It was worse for No. 5 GCC following wins over Bentworth and Charleroi, when they lost big to top seed and defending champion Neshannock, 15-0. The winner faces the District 9 champs (Curwensville/Cranberry) in the first round of the state playoffs.

• Class A consolation: Frazier (14-2) vs. Chartiers-Houston (13-6) at West Mifflin at 5 p.m. (Trib HSSN)

A tournament with no surprises has the top two seeds playing in the finals (Union vs. Carmichaels) and the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds playing for third place and fourth place in the state postseason. The Commodores have now qualified for the PIAA playoffs six straight seasons. The last time they weren’t playing games in June was 2016. The Buccaneers will be making their first trip to the state playoffs since 2019. The winner will play the District 10 champs (Cambridge Springs/Iroquois) while the loser draws the District 6 winner (West Branch/Ferndale/Claysburg-Kimmel) in PIAA Round 1.

Baseball

While there is immense pressure on three of the other five consolation baseball games where the winner moves on to the PIAA postseason and the loser goes home, that is not the case in Class 4A and 3A where both semifinal losers know their season will continue next week.

But as former NFL coach Herm Edwards once famously said, “You play to win the game.”

In 4A, one team might be happy to be playing for a state playoff berth; the other is likely disappointed not to be playing for gold.

No. 7-seeded Indiana beat Laurel Highlands and then stunned No. 2 Blackhawk in the quarterfinals, 4-1. The Little Indians’ run ended against Cinderella 14-seed Hopewell in the final four, 7-5.

Top-seeded Montour had close, low-scoring wins over Uniontown and Hampton before falling in an offensive fray to Latrobe in the semifinals, 10-7.

Indiana (15-8) battles Montour (19-4) at Ross Memorial Field on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

The winner travels north to face the District 10 champion (Cathedral Prep/Meadville) while the loser heads to Central Pa. to play the District 3 winner (East Pennsboro/Hanover) in the opening round of the state playoffs.

In 3A, Avonworth (17-6) is the Section 2-3A champion and was the No. 2 seed. The Antelopes outscored Derry and Shenango in first round and quarterfinal victories by a combined score of 19-2.

Avonworth lost a tight, low-scoring game to Neshannock in the semifinals, 2-1.

East Allegheny (14-6) is the Section 3-3A winner, the first time in program history EA won back-to-back section crowns. The No. 4-seeded Wildcats blanked Waynesburg Central in the opening round and edged 2022 runner-up Mohawk in the quarterfinals, 5-4.

East Allegheny then lost to unbeaten Riverside, 11-2, in a final four contest.

Game time at Ross Memorial Field on Tuesday is at 4:30 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

The winner will face the District 6 champion (Tyrone/Philipsburg-Osceola) while the loser heads north to face the District 10 winner (Fairview/North East) in the PIAA opening round.

• Class 5A consolation: Penn-Trafford (14-6) vs. Plum (14-8) at Ross Memorial Field on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. (Trib HSSN)

No. 3-seeded Penn-Trafford and No. 4 Plum were co-champions in Section 1-5A. The Warriors were leading but could not hold on in their semifinal loss to Bethel Park, 8-5. The Mustangs were shut out by Shaler in the semis, 2-0. These two split their regular season matchups, with Penn-Trafford winning at home on April 11, 4-3, and Plum claiming victory on its home turf the next day, 3-2. The rubber game winner advances to the PIAA playoffs to face the District 6/9 winner (Central Mountain/DuBois).

• Class 2A consolation: New Brighton (15-5) vs. Burgettstown (14-4) at Ross Memorial Field on Tuesday at 2 p.m. (Trib HSSN)

This bracket nearly went chalk as the top four seeds that enjoyed first-round byes all reached the semifinals. There, the top two seeds, Serra Catholic and Seton LaSalle, won and will play for gold Tuesday afternoon. Meanwhile, seeds 3 and 4 square off for a state playoff berth. The Lions had an 11-game winning streak snapped in the loss to Seton LaSalle, 2-0. The Section 1 champion Blue Devils had won five in a row before falling to Serra Catholic, 10-0. The winner advances to Round 1 of the PIAA playoffs against the District 9 champion (Redbank Valley/Karns City).

• Class A consolation: Rochester (10-8) vs. Union (13-5) at Ross Memorial Field on Tuesday at 7 p.m. (Trib HSSN)

The two-year reign on top of Class A came to a stunning end for Union in the district semifinals as it fell to California, 9-6. Rochester scored 15 runs in two wins over Avella and No. 2 Eden Christian Academy, however, the Rams could plate only four runs in a loss to Bishop Canevin in the final four, 9-4. This is the third meeting of the year between these Section 2-A rivals, and the Scotties have beat the Rams twice by a combined score of 20-3. The winner plays the District 10 champion (Saegertown/West Middlesex) in the first round of the state playoffs.

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