WPIAL Class 2A baseball teams find success in PIAA tournament
By: Don Rebel
Wednesday, June 5, 2019 | 7:13 PM
In Class 2A of the 2019 PIAA baseball playoffs, five letters provide the answer to how the west was won.
The four District 7 representatives to the Class 2A postseason were all first-round winners, making it a WPIAL quarterfinals block party Thursday at Matulevic Field in Shaler.
“Someone from the WPIAL will be making a PIAA finals appearance and that speaks volumes for the grind that each team had to go through in order to get to this spot,” Serra Catholic coach Brian Dzurenda said.
It will mark the first time a WPIAL team reached the Class 2A state title game since expansion to six classifications two years ago. Neshannock beat Neumann-Goretti, 9-0, in the 2015 final.
WPIAL champion Seton LaSalle will face Laurel at 2 p.m. while Serra Catholic battles Neshannock at 4:30 p.m.
Listen to both games by clicking here.
Both games are rematches of the WPIAL semifinals.
Trevor O’Donnell hit a game-winning single in the seventh inning as the Rebels came back to edge the Spartans, 5-4, on their way to winning the second baseball crown in school history.
Dom Puzzanchera doubled home the eventual game-winning run for the Eagles as they soared past the Lancers, 4-1, in the district semifinals two weeks ago.
“The key to the first win was our pitching and defense,” Dzurenda said. “Really when you play a team like Neshannock, it’s usually the first team to make a mistake suffers. A little luck went a long way that day for sure.”
Dzurenda feels his team’s bats will play a key role in the rematch.
“We need to hit better and put more pressure on them offensively in order to be successful in this playoff game.”
Success didn’t just happen in the playoffs. All four of the WPIAL Class 2A sections had tight races in the regular season that culminated with all four ending with co-champions.
When the district playoffs began, the Class 2A postseason field of 17 teams had eight section champions.
In fact, Laurel was not even one of the teams to finish tied for first place. The Spartans finished three games behind both Neshannock and Shenango in Section 2-2A.
Now, fast forward to the opening round of the state playoffs Monday where success continued for the four WPIAL teams.
Seton LaSalle pounded Lakeview, 9-1, while the other three WPIAL teams knocked off district champions.
Laurel scored two runs in the seventh inning to beat Bishop Guilfoyle, 2-0. Mark Black hit a two-run homer as Serra defeated Moniteau, 6-3. And, Neshannock blanked Sharpsville, 7-0.
“(Class) 2A was a loaded field this year,” Dzurenda said. “I’ve been saying all along that there was a lot of parity within the classification.”
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.