WPIAL announces 2022 baseball playoff brackets

Friday, May 13, 2022 | 2:47 PM

Montour hasn’t won a WPIAL baseball title in 50 years, but the Spartans will start this year’s playoffs as the favorites in Class 4A.

They were among six teams that earned No. 1 seeds Friday when the WPIAL revealed the playoff brackets on TribLive HSSN. The other top seeds went to Mt. Lebanon in 6A, Peters Township in 5A, Hopewell in 3A, Serra Catholic in 2A and Eden Christian in A.

Among the six, only Hopewell is a defending champion.

Montour also was seeded No. 1 last season and lost in the WPIAL finals. The Spartans are trying to win their first WPIAL title since 1972.

Among the other No. 1 seeds, Eden Christian has never won a WPIAL title. Mt. Lebanon is seeking its first WPIAL title since 2006, Peters Township last won in 2008 and Serra Catholic celebrated most recently in 2016.

Some of the No. 1 seed were easier choices than others, said WPIAL baseball committee chairman Bob Bozzuto, but there was a discussion in Class 6A about whether Mt. Lebanon (13-7) or defending champion North Allegheny (15-5) deserved the top spot.

Each was a section champion. A key factor for the committee was a head-to-head matchup April 14.

“Mt. Lebanon won, 2-1,” Bozzuto said. “We took a look at their schedule. … Mt. Lebanon deserved that No. 1 seed.”

The playoffs start with one preliminary-round game Monday. First-round games are Tuesday and Wednesday. The finals are May 31-June 1 at Wild Things Park in Washington.

The playoffs are again scheduled in a way to force teams into using more than one starting pitcher on their way to the finals, said Bozzuto, the athletic director at North Allegheny.

For example, in Class 4A, the same pitcher won’t be able to pitch both the quarterfinals and semifinals since the games are scheduled on consecutive days (May 23-24). The PIAA requires a certain amount of rest between outings based on the number of pitches thrown.

That benefits deeper teams such as Montour and others who have more than one reliable starter.

“If you’re allowed to throw your No. 1 each game on your way to the championship, then that pitcher can dominate,” Bozzuto said.

In Class 5A, 3A, 2A and A, the same pitcher won’t be able to work extensively both Tuesday in the first round and Thursday in the quarterfinals.

“They’ll have to use two pitchers,” Bozzuto said. “And then they’ll have their No. 1 back for the semifinals.”

Bozzuto said that in Class 5A, which has a number of strong first-round matchups, coaches will face a decision. Should they throw their best pitcher in the first round or hold them for the quarterfinals? That’s a gamble Bozzuto, a former manager of the Washington Wild Things, said he wouldn’t take.

“Coaches have saved their No. 1 and end up losing,” he said. “In (Class 5A), I don’t think there’s a consideration to do that. You’re going to see these teams in the quarterfinal round … throwing their No. 2 for the most part.”

The 12-person baseball committee met Friday morning to seed the bracket. One of the committee’s more interesting decisions came in Class 3A.

Defending champion Hopewell (13-6) was seeded first and runner-up South Park (14-5) was second, but then the committee chose to reward teams for playing tough schedules. Avonworth (13-7) and Mohawk (13-4) finished second in their respective sections but were seeded third and fourth, ahead of two section champions.

Yough (10-7) was seeded fifth and East Allegheny (11-5) was sixth.

“The bottom line is we rewarded Avonworth and Mohawk for playing a good schedule,” Bozzuto said. “Some sections are not as strong as other. That’s where you need to play a more competitive nonsection schedule.”

In Class 4A, Bozzuto said there was some discussion about switching No. 5 seed Beaver (12-5) and No. 4 Laurel Highlands (13-6). Both were second-place teams but only one team could receive a first-round bye.

Beaver won a WPIAL title just three years ago, but Laurel Highlands shouldn’t be overlooked, Bozzuto said. Laurel Highlands reached the WPIAL semifinals last season after defeating Beaver in the first round.

“Their tradition has been very, very good,” Bozzuto said.

The Class 6A bracket has 13 teams, so there’s only one first-round matchup. No. 8 Seneca Valley plays No. 9 Hempfield at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Plum. The other 11 teams have the day off, but the WPIAL committee arranged the 6A schedule so that the winner won’t be at a pitching disadvantage in the quarterfinals.

Class 6A

Wednesday’s games

No. 1 Mt. Lebanon – bye

No. 8 Seneca Valley at No. 9 Hempfield at Plum, 5 p.m.

No. 4 Norwin – bye

No. 5 Central Catholic – bye

No. 2 North Allegheny – bye

No. 7 Upper St. Clair – bye

No. 3 Pine-Richland – bye

No. 6 Butler – bye

Class 5A

Monday’s game

No. 16 Connellsville vs. No. 17 McKeesport at Latrobe, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday’s games

No. 1 Peters Township vs. Connellsville/McKeesport winner at Washington & Jefferson, 7 p.m.

No. 8 Penn-Trafford vs. No. 9 Hampton at West Mifflin, 4:30 p.m.

No. 4 Mars vs. No. 13 Chartiers Valley at North Allegheny, 4 p.m.

No. 5 Latrobe vs. No. 12 Thomas Jefferson at Hempfield, 4:30 p.m.

No. 2 Bethel Park vs. No. 15 Gateway at Burkett Park, 2 p.m.

No. 7 South Fayette vs. No. 10 Franklin Regional at Burkett Park, 7 p.m.

No. 3 West Allegheny vs. No. 14 Fox Chapel at Burkett Park, 4:30 p.m.

No. 6 Shaler vs. No. 11 Plum at North Allegheny, 7 p.m.

Class 4A

Wednesday’s games

No. 1 Montour – bye

No. 8 Highlands vs. No. 9 Quaker Valley at Plum, 7:30 p.m.

No. 4 Laurel Highlands – bye

No. 5 Beaver vs. No. 12 Elizabeth Forward at Fox Chapel, 4 p.m.

No. 2 West Mifflin – bye

No. 7 Indiana vs. No. 10 Blackhawk at Seneca Valley, 4 p.m.

No. 3 North Catholic – bye

No. 6 Knoch vs. No. 11 Uniontown at Norwin, 4 p.m.

Class 3A

Tuesday’s games

No. 1 Hopewell vs. No. 16 South Allegheny at Washington & Jefferson, 2 p.m.

No. 8 Deer Lakes vs. No. 9 McGuffey at Peterswood Park, 4:30 p.m.

No. 4 Mohawk vs. No. 13 Keystone Oaks at Seneca Valley, 7 p.m.

No. 5 Yough vs. No. 12 Mt. Pleasant at Hempfield, 2 p.m.

No. 2 South Park vs. No. 15 Waynesburg at West Mifflin, 2 p.m.

No. 7 New Brighton vs. No. 10 Derry at Highlands, 4:30 p.m.

No. 3 Avonworth vs. No. 14 Southmoreland at Highlands, 7 p.m.

No. 6 East Allegheny vs. No. 11 Ellwood City at Highlands, 2 p.m.

Class 2A

Tuesday’s games

No. 1 Serra Catholic vs. No. 16 Beth-Center at Latrobe, 4 p.m.

No. 8 Laurel vs. No. 9 Shady Side Academy at North Allegheny, 1 p.m.

No. 4 Carmichaels vs. No. 13 Apollo-Ridge at Latrobe, 6:30 p.m.

No. 5 Riverside vs. No. 12 Chartiers-Houston at Plum, 6:30 p.m.

No. 2 Seton LaSalle vs. No. 15 Northgate at Shaler, 4:30 p.m.

No. 7 Neshannock vs. No. 10 Bentworth at Chippewa Park, 3 p.m.

No. 3 Shenango vs. No. 14 Fort Cherry at Chippewa Park, 5:30 p.m.

No. 6 Burgettstown vs. No. 11 California at Washington & Jefferson, 4:30 p.m.

Class A

Tuesday’s games

No. 1 Eden Christian – bye

No. 8 Greensburg Central Catholic vs. No. 9 Leechburg at Plum, 4 p.m.

No. 4 West Greene vs. No. 13 Western Beaver at Peterswood Park, 7 p.m.

No. 5 OLSH vs. No. 12 Jefferson-Morgan at Peterswood Park, 2 p.m.

No. 2 Union – bye

No. 7 Bishop Canevin vs. No. 10 Riverview at Shaler, 2 p.m.

No. 3 Rochester – bye

No. 6 Sewickley Academy vs. No. 11 Avella at Beaver, 4 p.m.

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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