WPIAL Class 4A baseball championship preview: Montour vs. New Castle
Tuesday, June 1, 2021 | 3:01 PM
1-Montour (15-5) vs. 7-New Castle (13-9)
7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Wild Things Park, Washington
Road to the finals
• Montour — As the top seed, the Spartans received a first-round bye and might have had a little rust heading into their quarterfinal matchup against Quaker Valley. The Quakers pushed the top-seeded team to the brink, but the Spartans responded with a three-run, sixth inning rally that was highlighted by a Mason Sike RBI double. The Spartans came away with a 6-5 victory. They proceeded to produce runs in the semifinals as they beat Laurel Highlands, 8-1, to punch their ticket to the WPIAL championship game.
• New Castle — The Red Hurricanes have battled their way to the WPIAL Class 4A championship game as the No. 7 seed. They got by No. 10 Indiana with a 12-5 victory in the first round and then snuck by No. 2 West Mifflin in the quarterfinals, 6-3. It set up a semifinal match with an inspired Blackhawk team that was looking to return to the WPIAL championship game, but sophomore Anthony Miller threw 6 1/3 innings of six-hit ball to lead the Red Hurricanes to a 7-4 victory.
Secret to their success
• Montour — While the Spartans have showcased depth on the mound with five pitchers recording 16 innings or more of work, their offense also has been strong. Matt Luchovick has been the key cog in the lineup with a .418 batting average. He’s tallied 30 RBIs with four home runs and seven doubles. Senior Gannon Kadlecik (.420, 21 RBIs) and sophomore Nick Walker (.463, 14 RBIs) have also hit well. In their semifinal victory over Laurel Highlands, Sike contributed with two doubles and four RBIs. Junior Dylan Mathiesen has been strong on the mound, throwing 38 1/3 innings while striking out 60 and allowing nine earned runs.
• New Castle — The Red Hurricanes are strong all-around. They can hit, pitch and steal bases. With a .348 team batting average, the Red Hurricanes have five players with a batting average north of .350 and three with 22 RBIs. That doesn’t include senior Donny Cade, who’s hitting a respectable .327 with 22 RBIs and three home runs. The pitching duo of Rocco Bernadina and Anthony Miller have each thrown 40-plus innings and combined for 133 strikeouts. Miller has recorded a team-best 1.60 ERA while Bernadina has a 2.88.
• Montour — The top-seeded Spartans have won a WPIAL baseball championship one other time, nearly a half-century ago. The Montour victory took place in one of the longest finals ever played. The Spartans scored two runs in the 12th inning to defeat Penn Hills, 3-1, to win the 1972 title. This is the second time in three district playoff games Montour plays a rival from Section 2-4A after beating Quaker Valley in the quarterfinals.
• New Castle — With so many district titles in various other sports, the Red Hurricanes are still searching for their first baseball championship. This is the third meeting of the year between the two Section 2-4A foes. While the Spartans go for the sweep, the prior meeting between the ‘Canes and Spartans was in 2017 when New Castle won 7-0.
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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