WPIAL baseball playoffs roundup for May 15, 2019: Highlands upsets No. 3 Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 | 10:25 PM

Highlands’ first WPIAL playoff game in 16 years turned out pretty sweet.

Zac Kuniak’s bases-clearing triple spurred a five-run fifth inning, and No. 14 Highlands upset No. 3 Thomas Jefferson, 6-4, in a Class 4A first-round baseball game Wednesday afternoon at West Mifflin.

“Unbelievable,” Highlands coach Jeff Cambell said. “These kids have worked so hard, come so far. I don’t know what else to say. It’s a great feeling. You saw it in their eyes, in their hearts — they wanted this one bad.”

Matt Cekada added an RBI single in that inning for Highlands (11-8), which turned a 1-0 lead into a 6-0 advantage in the frame in its first playoff game since 2003. Thomas Jeffferson (13-6) scored twice in the bottom of the sixth and twice more in the seventh, but Highlands closer Jett Slepak struck out Dylan Mallozzi for the final out.

Slepak and Cekada both doubled for Highlands, and Johnny Crise tripled and scored on a Noah Gillette groundout in the first inning. Gillette earned the victory on the mound, giving up three runs in six-plus innings.

Mallozzi had an RBI double for TJ, and Josh Reynolds also doubled for the Jaguars.

Watch an archived video stream broadcast of this game on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

New Castle 8, Elizabeth Forward 1 — Rocco Bernadian threw a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts, and JT Micco was 2 for 3 with two RBIs as No. 9 New Castle (9-9) won a WPIAL Class 4A first-round game at Fox Chapel. The Red Hurricanes will play No. 1 Greensburg Salem (14-2) in the quarterfinals.

South Park 2, Quaker Valley 1 — Brendan Gray hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to lead No. 7 South Park (14-7) to a Class 4A first-round win at Seneca Valley. Gray also earned the victory on the mound. Kevin Vaupel was 2 for 3 for the Eagles, who will play No. 2 Yough in the quarterfinals.

Yough 4, Central Valley 3 — Cody Ulander scored from second on an error in the bottom of the seventh inning to give No. 2 Yough (14-7) a WPIAL Class 4A first-round walk-off win at Shaler.

Jarett Bach gave up one earned run on six hits and struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings, and Ray Halahurich was 2 for 3 with three RBIs for the Cougars. Mike Belle earned the win in relief.

Yough advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2003. The Cougars will play No. 7 South Park.

Class 3A

Beth-Center 4, New Brighton 3 — No. 12 Beth-Center (8-9) scored twice in the first and added runs in the second and third innings en route to a WPIAL Class 3A first-round upset over No. 5 New Brighton (11-7) at North Allegheny.

The Bulldogs will play No. 4 Steel Valley (10-8) in the quarterfinals.

Waynesburg 8, Freedom 1 — Luke Robinson threw a four-hitter with nine strikeouts, and Tyler Switalski was 2 for 4 with four RBIs as No. 8 Waynesburg (12-5) won a Class 3A first-round game at Boyce-Mayview Park. The Raiders will play No. 1 Freeport (13-5) in the quarterfinals.

Class A

Bishop Canevin 3, Jefferson-Morgan 0 — Aidan Logan and Mike Aches combined on a shutout as No. 7 Bishop Canevin (10-8) won a Class A first-round game at Boyce-Mayview Park. The Crusaders will play No. 2 Vincentian Academy (11-3) in the quarterfinals.

Eden Christian Academy 7, West Greene 5 — Warren Schmotzer was 2 for 3 with two RBIs as No. 8 Eden Christian (11-8) won a Class A first-round game at Boyce-Mayview Park. Eden Christian will play No. 1 California (15-1) in the quarterfinals.

Greensburg Central Catholic 4, Rochester 3 — Zach Kuvinka’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning lifted No. 5 Greensburg Central Catholic (10-8) to a Class A first-round win at Shaler. Paul Rice had two hits and two RBIs, and winning pitcher Alex Miller and Tom Voelker also had two hits.

Quigley Catholic 2, Leechburg 0 — Spartans starting pitcher Alex Tomsic struck out the first seven batters on his way to tossing a two-hitter as No. 4 Quigley Catholic escaped with a win over No. 13 Leechburg in the first round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs at North Allegheny. Tomsic singled, doubled and drove in a run for Quigley (12-6). John Sorisio singled twice and pitcher Jacob Pochiba picked up the loss for Leechburg (7-10).

District 6

Ligonier Valley 4, West Shamokin 2 – Ben Anderson had two hits and two RBIs, and John Caldwell and Michael Marinchak also knocked in runs to help Ligonier Valley (15-2) capture the District 6 Heritage Conference championship.

Marinchak earned the win after allowing two hits with 11 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

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