WPIAL Baseball Recaps From Monday, May 16th

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Monday, May 16, 2016 | 11:59 PM


In the final year of the four classification playoff format, the two biggest classes were the first to take the stage as the curtain went up in the 2016 district baseball postseason. While Class AAA went as expected with all the higher seeds winning with the exception of defending champion Knoch as a #10-seed, two double-digit seeds, #12 Franklin Regional and #14 Norwin pulled off surprised and are now Quarterfinals bound. Here are the recaps from the Quad-A and Triple-A opening day contests in the WPIAL Baseball Playoffs.

A special thanks to Steve Nagler, Lee Mohn, Mike Azadian, James Dotson, Josh Rowntree, Don Rebel, Mark Schaas, Jake Holmes and Dan Wallace for their help on these recaps,

WPIAL CLASS AAAA Preliminary Round:

Woodland Hills Wolverines 4 – Mount Lebanon Blue Devils 3
Woodland Hills (10-7) scored three runs in the first inning and held on to claim a 4-3 win over Mt. Lebanon (11-10) in the WPIAL AAAA Baseball Preliminary Round on Monday at West Mifflin High School. With the win, the Wolverines advance to the WPIAL First Round where they will meet top-seeded Plum (19-0) on Tuesday at West Mifflin. Robert Korff pitched a complete game, allowing just five hits, striking out nine and walking three batters. Just one of his three runs allowed was earned in the game. Woodland Hills would jump out to an early lead in the opening inning when Korff brough in two runs with a two-out double. On the following at-bat, Korff would come in to score on an error by Mt. Lebanon third baseman Ethan Cuccarese. The Blue Devils cut into the lead in the fifth inning when, after Bridge Dudley reached on an error, Eddie Jenkins would plate him on a run scoring double. But during the ensuing inning, Korff would leadoff with a triple to the right-centerfield gap and then score on a sacrifice fly by Stephen Puhl. Korff would let things get interesting in the seventh inning. After a one-out walk to Nick Callender, Jenkins would notch his second RBI of the game with a run-scoring single, advancing to third on an error by Puhl. Cuccarese would then drive in Jenkins, making it a 4-3 game. But Korff would strike out Joey Lowen to end the ballgame, giving Woodland Hills their first playoff win since 2002. Lowen was tagged with the loss for the Blue Devils, allowing three runs, including two earned, in four innings of work. In addition to his day on the mound, Korff finished 2-for-4 with a double, triple and two RBI.

WPIAL CLASS AAAA First Round:

Hempfield Spartans 10 – Kiski Area Cavaliers 3 
At Fox Chapel High School in WPIAL AAAA first round baseball playoff action the Hempfield Spartans defeat the Kiski Area Cavaliers 10-3 to move on to the quarterfinals on Wedensday May 18th versus the Franklin Regional Panthers. The Spartans scored five runs in the first inning on 7 hits and were on a roll as they sent 10 men to the plate against Kiski starter John Bowser. On the opposite side Spartan starter Matt Tarabek had only given up 2 hits until the third when he got into a little bit of trouble. Kiski sent 6 men to the plate, had 3 hits, and scored 2 runs to cut the lead to 5-2. Meanwhile Bowser settled down and retired 7 in a row between the 2nd and 4th inning. He had set down 10 of 11 batters into the 5th when he got in trouble again. A single and a HBP, followed by a wild pitch sent Branson Aukerman to the plate. He hit  a 2 RBI single to give Hempfield a 7-2 lead.  Kiski would plate a run in the 6th to draw within 4 at 7-3, but into the bottom of the 6th the Spartans would put the game away with 3 more runs to make the final 10-3. Tarabek would get the win going 7 innings,giving up 3 runs, on 10 hits, he struck out 5, and did not walk a batter. For the Spartans Justin Liberty had 2 hits and 2 runs, Isiah Dandrieth had 3 hits and 2 RBI and 2 runs scored. Aukerman went 2 for 3 with 3 RBI to lead the Spartan offense.

Franklin Regional Panthers 4 – Bethel Park Black Hawks 1 in 8 Innings
Last year, Franklin regional opened up the 2015 postseason with a game vs Pittsburgh Central Catholic at West Mifflin High School, It did not go well as errors helped the Vikings wipe out a big seventh inning deficit as they came back to beat the Panthers and go on to win WPIAL gold. Franklin Regional still felt that sting a year later as they once again began the playoffs at West Mifflin High School, but this year, they turned the tables and are now Quarterfinals bound. The Panthers came back and scored a run with two outs in the seventh inning to tie the game, then scored three in the eighth to beat Bethel Park 4-1. There was only one run in the first six innings thanks to outstanding pitching by the two starters, Ben Ramey for FR and Mason Miller for BP. That run came in the third inning as Collin Loughman hit a lead off double for the Black Hawks and scored one out later on an RBI single by Rob Morosetti. Miller allowed only two hits through six innings and when he got Ramey to lead off the 7th with a pop out to second base, Miller had retired 14 Panthers in a row. But after Noah Weiner walked and with two outs, Zach Simchick singled Weiner to third base on a hit-and-run. Then designated hitter Alex Christie hit a line drive off the glove of Loughman at short for an infield single that scored the tying run. After a Hawks scoring chance was turned aside in the bottom of the 7th, Franklin Regional went to work against Bethel Park reliever Zach Straub. Hunter Hughes singled, was bunted to second by Will Constantin, went to third when BP center fielder Jon Lucchitti lost Michael Haley’s line drive in the sun and both runners scored on Bryce Halleck’s double over Lucchitti’s head. An RBI single by Ramey capped the three-run 8th inning. Luciano Besh picked up the win by shutting down the Black Hawks in their half of the 8th as the Panthers advanced. For the day, Miller allowed one earned run on four hits in seven innings with 13 strike outs. The Section 5 champion Black Hawks see their season end at 14-7 while Franklin Regional improves to 14-7 and will play #4 Hempfield in Round Two.   

Pine-Richland Rams 3 – Gateway Gators 1 
The Rams rallied from an early deficit to defeat the Gators at chilly North Allegheny High School. Junior lefty Ryan Okuda fanned 7 and took advantage of some great defense to give the Rams their 7th straight win. Gateway took a 1-0 lead in the second without a hit. With runners at second and third, Okuda balked home a run but pitched out of danger in both the second and third to hold the Gators to just one hit over the first three innings. Pine Richland took the lead for good in the bottom of the third. The Gators committed 2 errors in the inning, along with a run scoring wild pitch on a third strike for all the runs they would need to move to 17-4 overall. The great defense came in the sixth as Maxx Harpalani snared a sinking liner to right and doubled off Mike Voinik at first to erase a threat. Harpalani came on to pick up the save, pitching a scoreless 7th. The game ended on a bizarre play as Brady Walker was picked off between first and second after he strayed too far to end the game with the middle of the Gateway order coming up. Nick Haas led the Rams with 2 of the Rams 7 hits, he was on base all 3 times. Okuda was the winning pitcher, allowing just 4 hits. Pine Richland is now 17-4 overall. Max Herman took the loss for Gateway, which ends the season at 8-10. Walker had 2 hits.

Canon-McMillan Big Macs 7 – North Hills Indians 6 
Canon McMillan had only one hit and trailed 6-2 after five innings to North Hills. Then the Big Mac bats awoke, scoring two runs in the 6th and three in the bottom of the 7th to walk off over the Indians in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs. The Big Macs, who had three total hits in the first six innings off of Indians pitcher Brendan Burke, gathered three straight hits to begin the bottom of the 7th against closer Mike Serpa. A mishandled ground ball with a lot of spin on it allowed the tying run to score, and Joshua Palma’s two-out single to center scored Tanner Piechnick to complete the comeback. Piechnick scored three runs for the Big Macs and had an RBI in the 7th. Cam Weston earned the win, throwing 2 2/3 innings in relief of Zach Rohaley. Luke Chutko went 2-3 with 3 RBIs for the Indians, who finish the year at 13-8.

Norwin Knights 4 – Shaler Titans 3 
The Norwin Knights pulled off A first round upset of Shaler by a score of 4 to 3 at Fox Chapel Monday afternoon. Junior Ryan Weaver pitched six and 1/3 innings allowing three runs on two hits for the win. Weaver did not allow a hit until there was one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. The right hander cruised into the seventh inning with a 4-0 lead but hit a wall, allowing a pair of walks and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out before giving way to reliever Chad Coles. Coles closed out the game for the Knights but not before allowing all three inherited runners to score, one on a Kenny Wirkowski rbi single, one on a fielder’s choice and a third on a very controversial double steal that appeared to end the game. The Titans had runners on the corners with two outs, Noah Seelhorst at third and Nick Fugh at first. Fugh broke for second on a pitch, Norwin catcher John LoChiatto threw to second base and Seelhorst broke for the plate scoring the third run of the game for Shaler but Fugh got caught in a rundown between first and second appearing to be tagged out twice during the sequence. Both times the umpire declared him safe saying the tag was never applied. Norwin head coach Mike Liebdzinski argued extensively but to no avail. The Titans had the tying run at second base with two outs and Coles induced Anthony Venezia into a pop out to shallow right center to end the game. The Knight got their runs on rbi singles from Nick Lamendola and Jonathan Pingree, a bases loaded walk worked by Ethan Sikora and Amendola scored the other run when Titan pitcher Christian Seelhorst uncorked a wild pitch in a two-run Knight sixth inning. Amendola went 4 for 4 driving in one run and scoring another for Norwin. Christian Seelhorst took the loss for Shaler working 6 innings and allowing three runs. The Titans season ends at 14-6. Norwin improves to 13-7 on the year advancing to the quarters to face Latrobe, a team they split a pair of games with in the regular season with each club winning on their home field, Norwin 1-0 and Latrobe 3-1. That game will be right here on your home for WPI AL playoff baseball the MSA Sports Network.

Latrobe Wildcats 1 – North Allegheny Tigers 0 
On paper this looked like runs would be tough to come by and it played out.  Latrobe would score the only run of the game in the third inning when Zack Kokoska hit a bad hop single off the face of Ben Marsico at first base to score Cody Helfrich from third base.  Helfrich started the inning working a walk then was sacrificed to second and went to third on a wild pitch.  Jared Kollar would do the rest.  Kollar threw the complete game giving up only one hit which was a bad hop single.  His breaking ball was untouchable all day.  He also struck out eight and only walked one.  Jacob Fischbaugh was the tough luck loser giving up only four hits and striking out four.  Latrobe will now move on to face Norwin in the quarterfinals.

WPIAL CLASS AAA First Round:

Laurel Highlands Mustangs 4 – Ambridge Bridgers 0 
Monday afternoon the Laurel Highlands Mustangs got off to a blistering start at the plate against the Ambridge Bridgers, as they loaded the base in each of the first three inning, scoring four runs in the process. In the bottom of the first after a one out double from Troy Kifer, Zach Uhazie would bring him home on a sacrifice fly to center field with the bases loaded to gice the Mustangs a 1-0 lead after one inning. In the second the Mustangs would strike for three more off an RBI single from Dan Zuchelkowski, an RBI double from Troy Kifer and scoring one more on a controversial balk call against Bridgers pitcher Travis Holman with the bases loaded. Mustang pitcher Luke Paull took over from there as he tossed a complete game shutout with six strikeouts and no walks. The Laurel Highlands Mustangs move on to the second round of the WPIAL Baseball Playoffs with a 4-0 win over the Ambridge Bridgers.

Chartiers Valley Colts 6 – Belle Vernon Leopards 4
The Chartiers Valley Colts won this competitive #8 vs #9 game 6-4 over the Belle Vernon Leopards in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs at the Boyce-Mayview Complex in Upper St. Clair Monday night. Senior Cole Horew picked up the victory for the Colts while also going 2 for 3 with a triple. Sophomore Konnor Corchado was also 2 for 3 at the plate with a double and two runs driven in while junior Dante Panucci chipped in with a pair of hits, a double and an RBI. Belle Vernon, the runners-up in AAA Section 4 see their season end at 16-5 while Chartiers Valley improves to 13-7 and will face top-seed Laurel Highlands in the Triple-A Quarterfinals on Thursday. 

Mars Fighting Planets 6 – Indiana Little Indians 2 
The Mars Fighting Planets, the Section Champions from AAA/5, used an opportunistic offense and 6 strong innings from senior starter David Anderson to defeat Indiana 6-2 at Highlands High School and advance to the WPIAL Class AAA Quarterfinals for the first time since 2012. Mars scored a run in the bottom of the first when Brandon Weatherholt, who scored 3 runs in the game, stole home on the back-end of a delayed steal. The Planets added a run in the second on a two-out single by Eli Brooks, and then added a pair of runs in the third taking advantage of an Indiana error. Designated Hitter Jack Anderson drove home a run with a two-out double in the fourth inning and David Anderson helped his own cause with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning. Indiana scored their only runs in the top of the seventh inning of a Mars reliever Dylan Rotz. The Anderson’s paced the Planets in the victory, as the sophomore Jack had a pair of hits to go with his RBI and the senior David pitched 6 scoreless innings, allowing 3 hits, walking 4 and striking out 9 Indiana batters to earn the win. Kent State bound senior Zach Schultz allowed 5 runs, 3 earned in 4 innings to take the loss in his final start for the 13th seeded Little Indians who finish the season at (9-9). Mars improves to (13-5) on the year and the 4th seeded Fighting Planets will take on the 5th seeded Hopewell Vikings in the next round at a site and time to be determined.

Hopewell Vikings 12 – Mount Pleasant Vikings 3 
#5-seed Hopewell scored seven runs in the bottom of the second inning and never looked back en route to a 12-3 rout of Mount Pleasant Monday afternoon at the Boyce-Mayview Complex in Upper St. Clair. Tim Sabo went the distance for the Vikings victory, yielding three unearned runs on six hits, one walk and three strikeouts. He also connected on an RBI triple. Chris Skelton and Mitch Hernaic each doubled and drove home a combined five runs for Hopewell, as they improve to 15-6 and will face mars in the Class AAA Quarterfinals on Wednesday. Jason Beranek suffered the loss for Mount Pleasant, as their season ends with a final record of 9-10.

Montour Spartans 7 – Freeport Yellow Jackets 4 
The Montour Spartans jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and went on to defeat Freeport 7-4 in the first round of the baseball playoffs.  Montour’s Trent Vietmeier went the distance allowing 3 earned runs and six hits while striking out five for the victory.  He would also collect 2 hits and add an RBI.    Also Frankie Guerra, Adam Celidonia would chip in with 2 hits.  For Freeport Nathan Pastorec went the distance and  was the loser.  Montour will now face defending WPIAL and PIAA champion Knoch in the quarterfinals.

Knoch Knights 3 – Yough Cougars 1
The defending AAA WPIAL and State Champion, Knoch Knights took their first step in defending their crown with a 3-1, first round victory over the #7 Yough Cougars on Monday afternoon. Knoch centerfielder, Dominick Bucko started the contest with a hard single in the first and later scored on an RBI single from Nick Guercio to make the score 1-0. That score held until the top half of the third when Knoch’s P.J. Gourley doubled to begin the inning and eventually scored after an Addis Crouch single to give the Knights a two run lead. In the top of the fourth, Gourley again got on to lead off the inning, this time courtesy of a single and later scored to represent the third run of the game for Knoch. Knoch’s Alex Stobert was dominant on the hill for the entire game, striking out 10 Cougars and only allowing three hits and one run. That lone run came in the fifth inning of play after Ryan Everly brought in Dylan O’Rourke on an RBI single. Yough’s T.J. Lux suffered the loss after allowing five hits and only two runs through three innings of work. Shane Fajt struck out two and gave up a run in two innings pitched and Nolan Kosh came in before the 6th inning of play for the Cougars and recorded two strikeouts for his resume. The Knights will have a date with the #2 seeded, Montour Spartans in a rematch of the 2015 WPIAL AAA semifinals and in the 2015 PIAA quarterfinals. Both meetings were victories for the Knights.

Blackhawk Cougars 5 – South Fayette Lions 0 
The Blackhawk Cougars scored five runs in the first two innings and then coasted to a first round victory in the WPIAL Class AAA Baseball Playoffs.  Cougars starter Mark Engel pitched a spectacular game, giving up only two hits en route to a complete win.  Engel carried a no-hitter into the 6th inning before giving up a 1-out double to Brett Willner.  Blackhawk would send eight hitters to the plate in the first inning against Lions’ starter, Tristan Tinney.  Jimmy Nixon singled home Adam Robinson and Hunter Nagy walked with the bases loaded to score Michael Turconi.  The Cougars would leave the bases loaded in the first.  However, Blackhawk would score three more times in the 2nd inning as Nick Zuchelli singled home both Robinson boys, Tyler and Adam.  Zuchelli would come around to score on the two out single off of the bat of Engel.  Tinney would bear down after that and limited Blackhawk to two hits over the last four innings.  With the win, Blackhawk (16-4) will face West Allegheny in the quarterfinals.  It will be the first time that the two teams have faced each other since the Indians defeated the Cougars in the WPIAL Championship game back in 2014.

West Allegheny Indians 2 – South Park Eagles 0
Michael Crawford pitched a one-hit gem and West Allegheny got a pair of clutch, two-out hits en route to downing South Park, 2-0 in the first round of the Class AAA WPIAL Playoffs. Crawford struck out nine Eagles and only walked three and was in complete control all game, facing the minimum in five of the seven innings. South Park’s starter, Kyle Thompson, pitched brilliantly as well. Thompson went the distance and only gave up four Indian hits. Only one of the two runs he surrendered was earned and Thompson struck out three. West Allegheny got a pair of two out hits, one by Crawford in the 3rd inning and one by Nick Ross in the 4th inning. That was plenty for Crawford who cruised to victory. With the win, West Allegheny (14-5) advances to the quarterfinals and will face either the Blackhawk Cougars or South Fayette Lions.

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