WPIAL Class 5A baseball championship preview: Franklin Regional vs. Bethel Park

Monday, May 31, 2021 | 12:22 PM

1-Franklin Regional (18-1) vs. 2-Bethel Park (18-3)

4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Wild Things Park, Washington

Road to the finals

Franklin Regional — The biggest test for the Panthers came in the quarterfinals. They were locked in a 5-5 tie with Mars when the game was delayed a day because a bank of lights went out. Franklin Regional came back the next day and won 8-5. They also handled Thomas Jefferson, 14-3, in the first round and Peters Township, 9-1, in the semifinals.

Bethel Park — After a 9-0 win over Chartiers Valley, the Black Hawks pulled out a pair of one-run victories. They walked it off in the quarterfinals against Shaler when No. 9 hitter John Chalus singled in the seventh. They won an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel against West Allegheny in the semifinals 1-0. Bethel Park lefty Eric Chalus, a Kent State commit, went strike-for-strike with West Allegheny right-handler Gavin Miller. Zack Sackett delivered a pinch-hit RBI single that didn’t leave the infield for the game’s only run.

Secret to their success

Franklin Regional — The Panthers are defensively sound, but the key to their playoff success has been their bats. They’ve put up 31 runs in three playoff games. Louie Kegerreis (.557, 27 runs, 24 RBIs) is having a postseason to remember. He is 10 for 11 with two triples and seven RBIs. Caden Smith, Timmy Quinn (.458, 4 HR, 25 RBIs), Jordan Suvak and others also are hitting well. Smith blasted a three-run homer in the semifinals. Ace pitcher Brian Pirone tossed six hitless innings in the win over Peters Township. He and senior Luke Treloar have made a solid one-two punch on the mound all season.

Bethel Park — Led by Eric Chalus, the Black Hawks have one of the top pitching staffs in the WPIAL. The Section 4 champs had a 10-game winning streak that included five shutouts. They have held the opponent to zero runs nine times, including twice in the playoffs. The team’s losses are to Baldwin, Hempfield and Mt. Lebanon, all 6A teams.

Championship factoids

Franklin Regional — The second of two WPIAL baseball championships for the Panthers came 20 years ago. Franklin Regional edged Mt. Lebanon, 9-8 in eight innings to win Class AAA gold in the first WPIAL baseball championship game played at the then-new PNC Park in 2001. With no pitch counts back then, Sam McCarthy pitched all eight innings for the win. The other Franklin Regional title came five years earlier when they won the 1997 WPIAL AAA crown.

Bethel Park — The Black Hawks won a pair of district baseball championships in a three-year span in the mid-80s. Bethel Park won WPIAL crowns in 1985 and ’87. The only other title game it has appeared in since then was in the 2007 “Rider Cup,” when Peters Township shortstop Jimmy Rider helped his team crush Bethel Park, 12-0. The Black Hawks were coached by Jimmy’s father, Jim Rider.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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