PIAA State Playoffs Preview

By Greg Williams (PA Director of Scouting) & Jacob Gill (Philadelphia Region Director of Scouting)

A total of 64 teams are preparing to take center stage tomorrow as the PIAA state tournament begins with the round of 16 in each Classification. Following we take a look at each team still alive with a chance to win at state title.

+ CLICK HERE to view complete PIAA State Tournament brackets and schedules
+ Coming Monday: Bold predictions on round by round winners in each classification.

Class AAAA (in bracket order)

Methacton Warriors

It has been a banner year for the Pioneer Athletic Conference (also known as the PAC-10) with the top four teams all reaching the state tournament. The Warriors actually finished in fourth place in the regular-season standings before sweeping their way through the conference and district tournaments. John Wiedmayer (Moravian) and 2nd-team all-PAC-10 selection Tim Carfrey (Alvernia) have been rock-solid on the mound. 1st-team honorees Austin Bregman (Old Dominion), Kyle Lowery, Glenn Seymour (East Stroudsburg) and Kyle Feaster lead a senior-dominated line-up that also features 2017 SS Patrick O’Neil.

George Washington Eagles

GW finished one game back of AAA state entrant Franklin Towne Charter in Philadelphia Public League Division A during the regular-season, only to turn the tables on FTC to capture the overall Public League tournament title. 2014 Roger Hanson was named MVP of Division A. He was joined on the 1st-team all-Division A squad by classmates John Santos and Scott Siley, while 2015 Ishmael Bracy earned 2nd-team honors. 2016 Eddie Tingle has also been a major contributor on the mound and with the bat. 

Parkland Trojans

Talented pitching staff has not given up more than two runs in a game since the month of May began. Shippensburg-bound Gabe Mosser (9-1, 33 H, 14 BB, 97 K in 56.2 IP) is the de facto ace. 2015 Indiana commit Connor Higgins (4-1, 21 H, 14 BB, 59 K in 38.1 IP), 2014 Alex Flynn (6-1, 28 H, 9 BB, 36 K in 38.1 IP), and 2015 Penn State commit Rhett Jacoby (1-2, 27 H, 6 BB, 22 K in 24 IP) are also capable of providing quality innings. Offense has been sporadic, with only two line-up regulars -- most notably 2015 Penn commit Chris Rabasco (.474 AVG, 15 XBH, .551 OBP) -- hitting above .290, but team OBP sits at .413 and they force the defense to make plays (111 BB against only 80 K). 

Spring-Ford Rams

Only through the District I 4A playoffs can a team enter the state tournament on a two-game losing streak, but that’s exactly the situation the Rams are in. Fortunately, for them, 2015 Bret Clarke (1st-team all-PAC-10) has emerged as a legitimate ace. The line-up supporting him is littered with all-PAC-10 selections, including 1st-teamers Connor Klemann (Penn State) and David Gulati (Villanova), 2nd-teamer Cameron Simmons (Virginia), and Honorable Mention selections Corey Rantz, Connor Murphy, and Shane Emrich (La Roche).

La Salle Explorers

Despite getting tripped up in the Catholic League playoffs, the Explorers earned their state bid by virtue of a regular-season Catholic Red title and 2A Neumann-Goretti knocking off 4A Roman Catholic in the playoff championship. St. Joseph’s-bound Dom Cuoci (Red Division MVP and Pitcher of the Year) and athletic 2015 CF Jimmy Herron (Duke commit) lead a group that placed seven players on the all-Catholic Red 1st- and 2nd-teams.

Boyertown Area Bears

Of Boyertown’s four losses this spring, three came at the hands of District I 4A 1-seed Methacton, while the other was against District I 3A 1-seed Pope John Paul II. The Bears’ calling card is pitching (only five times all season did they give up more than four runs), led by Brandon Griesemer and 1st-team all-PAC-10 selection Tyler Bauman. A trio of 2015s - Austin Medeja (1st-team), Zach Moser, Dalton Hughes (Honorable Mention) - sets the table for the offense.

Hazleton Area Cougars

Deep pitching staff includes a trio of southpaws -- UMES-bound Tony Hernandez (5-1, 31 H, 25 BB, 40 K in 42 IP), 2015 Joey Baran (3-1, 26 H, 9 BB, 38 K in 28.1 IP) & 2016 Dante Biasi (6-0, 33 H, 8 BB, 38 K in 33.2 IP) -- plus Penn State-bound RHP Sai Biasi (3-2, 24 H, 10 BB, 31 K in 29.1 IP). Athletic, junior-laden offense has three members (Baran and the Biasi brothers) hitting over .400 and seven players with at least four stolen bases on the season.

Hempfield Black Knights

A loss in the District III title game snapped a 10-game winning streak, but the Black Knights are well-positioned to get back on the winning track with 2015 LHP Jon Peterson (6-3, 41 H, 31 BB, 82 K in 53 IP) on the bump. The offense is averaging nearly seven runs per game, led by Peterson (.425 AVG, .533 OBP, .630 SLG), 2016 Chase Gilbert (.378 AVG, .520 SLG, 10 SB), 2015 Derek Manning (.333 AVG, .443 OBP, .531 SLG), and Michael Hernandez (.356 AVG), the only senior to receive regular playing time.

Cedar Cliff Colts

Recovering from a 2-5 start, the Colts went 15-2 over the balance of the season. 2014 Joe Kidd (8-1, 61 H, 27 BB, 49 K in 74.2 IP) has been a workhorse, accruing more than half of the team’s wins during that stretch. Five line-up regulars sport batting averages over .300, led by 2014s Stephen McKee (.352 AVG, .472 OBP, 9 SB) and Bloomsburg-bound Brandyn Smith (.328 AVG, .488 OBP). 2017 Grant Brenemen (.323 AVG, .446 OBP, team-leading 13 SB) has made an impact as a rookie.

Conestoga Pioneers

There isn’t a team in the tournament with more top-shelf talent than this one. Six starting position players - Andrew Born (Davidson), Stephen Born (Navy), Max Dolente (Hofstra), Tommy Richter (College of Charleston), Austin Shirley (Georgetown), Andrew Turner (LIU Brooklyn) - are headed to Division I programs, while 2015 IF Ryne Ogren will likely add to that total this summer or fall. North Carolina commit Brendon Little leads a southpaw dominated staff that also includes 2014 Jake Bufo and 2015 Drew Jackson, along with Lafayette-bound RHP Kyle Stefanic.

State College Little Lions

The Little Lions (16-5) suffered an early season loss when UNC recruit Nick Raquet went down. 2015 RHP Kyle Peterson (4-2, 1.14 ERA, 37 IP) and 2016 RHP Bailey Ishler (5-0, 2.45 ERA, 40 IP) have combined to pick up the slack. 2015 OF Caleb Walls (.413, 17 R) and 2016 OF Brandon Raquet (.340, 15 R) fuel the top of the State College lineup. The Little Lions have split two games with 1st Round opponent Red Land losing 5-4 on April 21 and winning 3-1 on May 7.

Red Land Patriots

A solid combo atop the rotation has been a strength for the Patriots, as 2014s Zach Newmyer (5-4, 57 H, 21 BB, 94 K in 74.1 IP) and Mount St. Mary’s-bound Jeremy Hileman (8-3, 63 H, 27 BB, 75 K in 71.2 IP) have combined to throw over 85% of the staff’s innings this spring. They held opponents to less than two runs per game during the district tournament (with each throwing two complete games), and may need to continue to do so in order to prop up an offense hitting .258 on the season and a defense that has contributed to nearly as many unearned runs as earned runs allowed. Newmyer (.348 AVG, .464 OBP, .606 SLG) and Pitt-bound Ben Snyder (.382 AVG, .478 OBP, .566 SLG) provide some pop in the line-up.

Seneca Valley Raiders

The Raiders struggled with regular season injuries and got into the WPIAL playoffs with a 5-5 section record and a less than impressive 6-11 overall record. The return of RHP Connor Coward (Virginia Tech) has ignited the Raiders who marched through the WPIAL tournament winning four straight games by a combined score of 23-11. The Raiders will begin state tournament play with WPIAL foe Moon who topped Seneca Valley 9-6 in an early season non-section game.

Moon Area Tigers

Moon (16-4) advanced to the state tournament with a 9-2 win over Pine Richland in the WPIAL consolation game. That win avenged the two previous losses the Tigers had in section play against the Rams. Of the Tigers four losses, two have been by one run. Moon topped first round opponent Seneca Valley 9-6 on April 1, but much has changed since that time.

DuBois Area Beavers

The Beavers advanced to the state tournament with a sub-regional win over McDowell 6-0 behind the pitching of 2014 RHP Devon Walker. The Pitt-Johnstown recruit is 8-1 on the season with a 2.32 ERA and is likely to get the ball to begin the PIAA tournament. Ben Hayes is another option at 5-0 with a 3.11 ERA in 36 innings. Justin Sleigh leads the Beavers in nearly every offensive category hitting .514 with 32 RBI and 20 runs scored.

Baldwin Highlanders

Baldwin enters the state tournament having lost just once in its previous eight games (5-2 to Seneca Valley in WPIAL finals). The Highlanders began the season on a nine game win streak and were riding a seven game streak prior to their loss to Seneca Valley. Slippery Rock bound RHP Alex Pantuso sits in the mid-80s and is an imposing presence on the mound at 6-foot-5, 220-pounds. IF Tom McCarthy, a Seton Hill recruit, hit .531 during the regular season from the 3-hole. 

Class AAA (in bracket order)

Pope John Paul II Golden Panthers

The Golden Panthers took silver in the PAC-10 regular-season and again in the league playoffs, before finally living up to their moniker in district play. The three-headed monster of Widener commit Josh Lafferty (9-3, 52 H, 52 K in 69.1 IP) and Misericordia-bound closer Dan Zurowski (6-1, 3 SV, 19 H, 39 K in 30.1 IP), both 2nd-team all-PAC-10 selections, along with 2014 Trevor O’Brien (2-1, 21 H, 23 K, in 28.1 IP) have fronted a staff that allowed four or fewer runs in seventeen of 24 games. O’Brien (.362 AVG, 2nd-team) Lehigh-bound James Bleming (.400 AVG, 1st-team) lead the offensive charge.

West Perry Mustangs

The Mustangs (18-6) are led by 2015 RHP/3B Ben Dum, a Virginia Commonwealth commit. West Perry can also turn to fellow senior righty Joel Clabaugh as well as 2015 lefty Tregg Leibel. The Mustangs advance following a loss to Northern York, their 3rd loss in as many games to the Polar Bears this season, in the District III title game. Dum was not on the mound in the district championship but is likely to get the nod in the 1st round of the state tournament.

Archbishop Wood Vikings

2014 Dom McFadden (1st-team all-Catholic Blue Division)and 2016 Anthony Russo are the 1-2 rotation punch for this Philadelphia Catholic League representative, which finished in a tie for first place in the Blue Division with District XII 2A 1-seed Neumann-Goretti. The senior middle infield duo of Erik Bowren (Millersville) and Matt Mandes (Slippery Rock) also earned 1st-team honors, along with 2015 Nick Lafferty and 2017 Joe Lancellotti.

Northeastern Bobcats

The Bobcats longest win streak of the season is four games, and now would be an opportune time to repeat that feat. With six pitchers having thrown double-digit innings (four RHP, two LHP), most games turn into multi-man efforts, as the coaching staff has the opportunity to mix-and-match and play match-ups. 2015 Nick Sprenkle (.384 AVG, .495 OBP, .616 SLG, 14 SB), 2014 Jordan Ely (.361 AVG, .447 OBP), and 2014 Grant Myers (.489 OBP, 20:6 BB:K) make the offense go.

Tamaqua Area Blue Raiders

This pitching staff is, indeed, a staff, with six players racking up at least 17.2 IP this spring. After battling through an early-season injury, 6-foot-6 2015 Brett Kosciolek () worked his way back into shape enough to start the district quarterfinal and championship games. 2015 Bo Rottet and 2014 Matt Roberts have been the offensive stars, while Kosciolek has provided some pop as well.  Rottet also serves as the stopper out of the bullpen. 

Franklin Towne Charter

FTC earned its spot in this bracket after storming through the Philadelphia Public League AAA tournament by a combined score of 23-2 over three games. Given that it won the Public League Division A regular-season crown, it is surprising that FTC only landed two post-season honorees: 2015 Steve Callahan on the 1st-team and 2014 Brian Bradley on the 2nd-team. A number of youngsters played big roles including 2016s Zack Beltran, Christian Diaz, and Matt Schlernitzauer, plus 2017s Rob Henry and Eric Sanchez.

Jersey Shore Bulldogs

At 20-2 and on a nine-game winning streak, the Bulldogs once again come rolling into the state tournament. They have four seemingly interchangeable, but effective, pitchers at their disposal - 2014s Dylan Hamm (5-0, 29 H, 7 BB, 29 K in 37.1 IP), Susquehanna-bound Travis Eiswerth (4-2, 28 H, 14 BB, 24 K in 34.1 IP) and Michael Schoonmaker (4-0, 16 H, 6 BB, 29 K in 32. 1IP), plus 2016 Travis Bradley (6-0, 21 H, 20 BB, 23 K in 31 IP). Hitting .300 is passe among a group with a composite .349 average, but 2015 Zach Miller (.532 AVG, .12:5 BB:K, 1.016 SLG), along with 2014s Colton Potter (.443 AVG, 7:2 BB:K, .582 SLG) and Christian Rishel (.429 AVG, 5:2 BB:K, .662 SLG) have easily surpassed that benchmark. 

Abington Heights Comets

Two stud arms can be enough to get you through the state tournament, which means last year's state semifinalists are well-positioned to make another strong push for a state title. Fordham-bound Dave Manasek's low slot gives hitters fits, while there isn't a tougher competitor in the state than bulldog 2015 RHP Tyler Ksiazek. The junior trio of Ksiazek, Jimmy Fayocavitz, and Eric Salerno lead the team in batting average.

Northern York Polar Bears

The Polar Bears roll into the state playoffs riding a ten-game winning streak.  Until the district title game (which they won 12-6) the pitching staff, led by 2014s Rodney Copenhaver and Ryan Schreiber, hadn’t allowed more than four runs in a game since April 8th. 2015 Zach Zinn leads the team in hitting and provides some pop, while 2014s Joe DeLuca and Colton Baxter each combine a .400+ OBP with double-digit steals.

Harriton Rams

The Rams’ offensive star is 2014 OF Andre Pendleton (.460 AVG, .625 OBP, .720 SLG, 8 SB, 13:5 BB:K). His supporting cast includes Hood College commit Drake Friend (.302 AVG, .548 OBP, 8 SB, 17:4 BB:K) and fellow 2014 Jimmy Bredt (.367 AVG, .611 OBP, 12 SB, 18:7 BB:K). Widener-bound Corey Neel (8-2, 54 H, 9 BB, 43 K in 52 IP) has fronted the staff all spring.

Somerset Area Eagles

Somerset has a solid mix of senior leadership and talented underclassmen that has led to an 18-1 record to date. Staff ace Alex Dirienzo, an Akron recruit, is 9-0 on the year with a 1.88 ERA in 48.1 innings of work. 2015 OF Raven Beeman (.530/27 RBI), 2015 1B Bryce Mostoller (.481/20 RBI) and 2015 C Tanner Stuhl (.436/38 R) lead a potent offense that has outscored opponents 203-49.

Blackhawk Cougars

The Cougars have the great equalizer LHP Brendan McKay (2013 & 2014 Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year). McKay saw his pursuit of the all-time national high school record for consecutive scoreless innings fall short at 73 ⅓ (tied for 2nd in the record books) when West Allegheny broke the string with five runs in the WPIAL finals. Blackhawk will likely turn to 2015 RHP Dante Parente in the opening round of the state tourney with McKay on short rest and having pitched 8 innings in the finals. McKay is also a feared hitter in the heart of the Cougars order. 2015 2B Joe Campagna (.553 regular season) makes it difficult for teams to pitch around McKay.

West Allegheny Indians

The Indians (18-4) did what no team had done in nearly two high school seasons when they scored in a game that Brendan McKay was on the mound. West Allegheny was able to plate five runs in a 5-3, 8-inning win over Blackhawk in the WPIAL finals. The Indians have three pitchers that have logged at least 24 innings on the bump in 2014, but will likely turn to 2015 RHP Colin Claus (9-0/1.73 ERA/60.2 IP) in the 1st round of the state tourney. 2015 SS/RHP Tyler Amdure (3-1/2.01 ERA/24.1IP) came on in relief of Claus in the WPIAL finals and worked five scoreless innings for the win. 2015 OF Michael Cummings leads the Indians’ offense (.364/16 RBI/13 Runs).

Punxsutawney Chucks

The Chucks (13-5) won the Distrcit IX title for the 11th consecutive year on a 9th inning walk-off single by 2015 OF Dakotah Byers. Punxsutawney trailed St. Marys 5-4 but scored twice in their final at bat to advance to the state tournament. 2016 SS/RHP John Matthews (6-0/3.56 ERA/41.1 IP) leads the pitching staff in wins. 2015 C Ryan Sloniger, a Penn State commit, leads the offense (.491/20 RBI/20 Runs).

Cathedral Prep Ramblers

The Ramblers (18-3) waltzed through the District 10 tourney beating General McLane 7-0 and Harbor Creek (10-0). Talented two-way prospect Carter Cross, a 2016 OF/RHP, has gone 4-0 with a 2.69 ERA over 28.2 innings of work and will likely get the nod on the mound to open state tourney play. Cross (.438/ 20 RBI/ 22 Runs) and 2014 SS Ted DeSanti (.429/ 15 RBI/ 19 Runs), an IUP recruit, lead the Ramblers offense.

West Mifflin Area Titans

The Titans (16-5) bounced back from a lopsided 15-0 loss to Blackhawk in the WPIAL finals to beat Hampton 8-5 in the consolation game to advance to the state tournament. The great mystery is how much Cincinnatti recruit A.J. Olasz (4-0) will throw moving forward. The talented lefty pitched ⅔ of an inning in the win over Hampton and makes West Mifflin extremely difficult to beat if he is on the mound. After a strong start to his senior campaign Olasz was relegated to the DH role following an injury on the basepaths. 

Class AA (in bracket order)

Neumann-Goretti Saints

This team is battle-tested, playing most of its games this spring against 3A and 4A competition. Southpaws Charlie Jerla (Marist) and 2015 Pat Doudican are an excellent 1-2 punch atop the rotation, while 2016 RHP Ethan Pritchett gives the Saints a third quality arm at their disposal. The double-play combo of 2015s Justin Curtin and Vinny Vaccone are fun to watch, as is powerful Indiana commit Josh Ockimey when he gets ahold of one. 2016s Brian Verratti and Nicky D'Amore will compete for Team PA at the PBR Future Games this summer.

Berks Catholic Saints

The Saints are 7-0 against AA competition this year, allowing only ten runs during this games. 2015s Pop Lacey and Matt Dekker led the way on the mound during shutouts in the district semifinal and championship. Lacey contributes offensively out of the leadoff spot, while classmates Patrick Causa, Nick Perilli, and Franklin Ramirez provide support behind him. 

Lakeland Chiefs

It was a tale of three seasons for the Chiefs, as the stumbled out of the gate to a 1-6 record, went 3-3 in the middle of league play, then finished with a 5-0 flourish, including wins over the 1-, 2-, and 3-seeds in the District II tournament. 2014 Chris Roche (13 H, 10 BB, 19 K in 21.2 IP) didn’t throw his first pitch until the end of April, but has joined 2016 Sean Pittack (40 H, 13 BB, 22 K in 32 IP) as a go-to guy on the mound. 2015s Josh Natale (.327 AVG, .439 OBP, 21 SB) and Shane Rivenburgh (.353 AVG, .460 OBP, .549 SLG, 12 SB) power the offense at the top of the order, along with 2014s James Blevins (.356 AVG, .576 SLG, 16 SB) and Jimmy Hayes (.304 AVG, .500 SLG).

Bloomsburg Area Panthers

A nine-game winning streak was broken in the district title game against defending state champion Loyalsock Township. Luckily for the Panthers, however, they have the ultimate losing streak stopper in Stanford commit Colton Hock. The big right-hander has been dominant this spring (9-1, 24 H, 15 BB, 110 K in 54.1 IP), running his fastball up to 94 at times early in outings. Hock (.500 AVG) also leads a line-up that includes six regulars who are hitting .345 or better and has speed to burn, with 2015 Sam Miller (22) and 2014s Colby Klingerman (21), Ricky Klingerman (18), and Evan Ball (13) pacing a group of eight who have at least seven stolen bases apiece.

Notre Dame (Green Pond) Crusaders

The Colonial League champions have received stellar pitching all season from Paul Roth (9-0, 51 H, 11 BB, 59 K in 62 IP) and Zachary Luke (7-2, 30 H, 18 BB, 53 K in 59.2 IP). The offense is driven by the first four hitters in the order: PSU Harrisburg-bound Kyle Buchman (.471 AVG, .567 OBP, 6 SB), 2016 Eric Santiago (.440 AVG), Roth (.431 AVG), and 2014 Charlie Barebo (.385 AVG, .577 SLG, 8 SB).

Springfield Township Spartans

Typically a wild-card entering district play due to depressed record playing a predominantly 4A schedule in the Suburban One League American Division, the Spartans rolled through the District I/XII Sub-regional, averaging nine runs per game. Powerful Hillborough CC commit Marten Pauwels is the leading run-producer, while 2015 Julian Salazar has stepped in the ace role on the mound, racking up twice as many innings as anyone else on the staff.

Loyalsock Township Lancers

The Lancers (19-5) have battled through some adversity and the bulls eye on their back that comes with being the defending state champs. In addition, Loyalsock returned a great deal of its lineup from a year ago making expectations of a repeat performance even greater. The loss of 2015 RHP Luke Glavin, a Duke commit, to injury came during a rocky stretch early in the season but 2017 LHP Andrew Malone and 2015 righty Jimmy Webb filled in well. The Lancers have a complete offensive lineup that puts pressure on the opposition from top to bottom and have the luxury of sending 2015 SS/RHP Kyle Datres to the mound to begin their quest for back-to-back state titles. The North Carolina commit went the distance in last year’s state title game.

Bald Eagle Area Bald Eagles

The second-place finisher in the Mountain League and District VI tournament gets one more shot to pick up a win against a PIAA tournament team. The Bald Eagles went 14-2 against schools that did not advance beyond district play, but 0-5 against state qualifiers (including three losses to Central). A senior-laden offense averaging nearly eight runs per game is led by Ryan Dyke (.493 AVG, .543 OBP, .761 SLG) and Bryce Greene (.463 AVG, .558 OBP, .641 SLG). 2014 Jeff Bennett (5-3, 51 H, 27 BB, 46 K in 50.1 IP) and 2015 Colton Comly (7-3, 69 H, 22 BB, 34 K in 49 IP) have accrued the bulk of the mound work.

Steel Valley Ironmen

The Ironmen (18-2) are riding high after capturing their first ever WPIAL title. Steel Valley has the pitching recipe for post season success, a deep pitching staff. 2015 RHP Brandon Donvan (7-0/ 0.96 ERA/ 44 IP), 2014 LHP Derek Morrison (6-0/ 1.16 ERA/ 36.1 IP) and 2014 LHP Sam Ligeros (4-1/ 4.32 ERA/ 24.1 IP) give the Ironmen three legitimate options to turn to on the mound. Donovan (.492/ 35 RBI/ 21 Runs), 2014 OF Andrew Chuba (.457/ 12 RBI/ 35 Runs) and Morrison (.459/ 25RBI/ 13 Runs) drive the Steel Valley offense that averages 8.5 runs a game.

Bedford Bison

The Bison (11-6) enter the state tournament as a bit of a mystery. Bedford earned their spot in the opening round opposite Steel Valley by virtue of a 17-2 District 5 semi-final win over Winber and a 7-2 win over Chestnut Ridge in the finals. While the Bison earned their way in the two teams they beat in district play to move on were a combined 17-21 on the season. 2015 RHP Isaac Kline is likely to take the mound to begin state tournament play.

Karns City Gremlins

The Gremlins (14-2) struggled with mother nature during the regular season but their bats heated up during District 9 tournament action outscoring opponents 19-2 to win the title. 2014 C Nathan Weckerly leads the Gremlins who have won back-to-back District 9 titles. Karns City lost to Beaver 10-0 in 1st Round state tournament play in 2013.

Northwestern Wildcats

The Wildcats (13-5) unseated Saegertown (3-time defending D10 champions) in semi-final action before losing to Franklin in the District 10 finals. RHP Jay Clinger, a talented two-way prospect that will play his college baseball at Pitt-Bradford, will likely take the mound in 1st round state tourney play.

Franklin Area Knights

The Knights (18-2) have an ace in 2015 LHP Zach Guth. The future Indiana Hoosier has allowed two earned runs in 36.1 innings for an ERA of 0.39 this season. Franklin’s lone losses this season came to Northwestern and Grove City.

Seton-La Salle Rebels

The Rebels (15-5) came within one inning of capturing the WPIAL title before seeing Steel Valley rally in the 7th for the WPIAL title. 2014 SS/RHP Dave Boehme, a Penn State Behrend recruit, hit .528 during the regular season to lead the Rebels’ offense. 2015 RHP Carson Rebel is the staff ace going 5-1 during the course of the regular season.

Central Scarlet Dragons

The Dragons (21-0) have put up cartoon-like numbers hitting a whopping .412 as a team and outscoring opponents 241-53. 2014 RHP Ethan Lewis (3.09 ERA) and 2015 RHP Mike Mock (0.54 ERA) are both 9-0 giving the Dragons a 1-2 punch on the mound that bodes well for a deep run in the state tournament. 2014 SS Austin Cunningham (.500/ 24 RBI/ 30 Runs), 2014 OF Bradi Moore (.438/ 27 RBI/ 31 Runs), 2015 1B Jay Stern (.431/ 30 RBI/ 26 Runs) and Mock (.414/ 31 RBI/ 17 Runs) lead the potent Central offensive attack.

Quaker Valley Quakers

The Quakers (18-3) return to the state tournament for a 2nd year in a row. After falling in the Western finals last year Quaker Valley will look to ride a strong trio of pitchers in 2014 RHP Ben Utterback, 2014 LHP Matt Delie and 2015 RHP Tyler Garbee. The three have led a pitching staff that has held opponents to 35 runs in 21 games. 

Class A (in bracket order)

Devon Prep Tide

Despite being snake-bit by injury on the mound (draft prospect and Seton Hall commit Zach Schellenger hasn’t pitched since April 3rd, while expected #2 starter Sean Phelan has only thrown 4.1 innings this spring), the Tide managed to pull things together for their second straight state bid. Phelan returned in May to provide reinforcement for a staff that has been headlined by 2015 Pat Rohr (7-2, 30 H, 19 BB, 55 K in 49 IP). The offense is powered by Boston College commit Dom Hardaway (.411 AVG, .714 SLG, 8 SB) and 2016 Tony Gallo (.414 AVG, .689 SLG), while 2014s CJ Kohlbrenner and Chris Bauers (Washington College commit) have both stolen double-digit bases.

York Catholic Fighting Irish

Don’t be deceived by York Catholic’s 11-10 record, as the Fighting Irish did not play a class A opponent until the first round of the District III tournament. Making the season even more arduous, presumptive ace Erich Hartman (Kentucky commit) has only thrown three innings this spring. In his stead, 2015 Jake Krevetski (3-2, 38 H, 20 BB, 51 K in 41.1 IP) and 2014 Clint Bohn (3-2, 28 H, 18 BB, 42 K in 29.1 IP) filled in admirably. Eight of the nine line-up spots have routinely been filled by seniors, including Hartman (.468 AVG, .680 SLG), York College commit Patrick Clement (.456 AVG, .789 SLG), and Bohn (.333 AVG, .698 SLG, 12 SB). Krevetski (.446 AVG, .603 OBP, .750 SLG) is a major contributor with the bat as well.

MMI Prep Preppers

Playing predominantly larger schools during the regular season in the Wyoming Valley Conference, the Preppers turned it on against similar-sized schools in the post-season. 2014 Charlie Karchner and 2016 Ed Herbener were the dynamic duo on the mound for a pitching staff that gave up an average of two runs per game during the district tournament. Karchner, classmate Alec Andes and 2015 Sam Harmon are the primary run-producers.

Canton Warriors

The Canton Warriors (20-2) have the luxury few Class A teams have and they have had it for the past two years. The 2013 state runners-up return all three arms from last year’s title game run and should be primed to make a potential run at the title again. 2014 righties Chase Pepper and Garrett Wesneski are both talented starters capable of going the distance against the state’s best. The Warriors also have the luxury of bring 2015 RHP John Bowman out of the back end of the bullpen to close a game out. 

Julia R Masterman Blue Dragons

Masterman’s overall record isn’t impressive due to playing the majority of its games against larger schools in the Philadelphia Public League, which does not separate its divisions by school size. The Blue Dragons knocked off defending district champ GAMP to earn their state bid and are led by 2nd-team all-Philadelphia Public League Division A infielder Greg Whitehorn. And add this to your “You Never Know What You’re Going to See When You Go to the Yard” file: 2017 Liam Shanahan is a left-handed throwing shortstop.

Schuylkill Haven Hurricanes

To say that the Hurricanes rode the right arm of 2015 Nick Behm (12-1, 63 H, 11 BB, 109 K in 78 IP)  to this point would be an understatement. Behm has appeared in sixteen of the team’s 24 games, including all three games during the district tournament (3-0, 7 H, 0 BB, 25 K). The offense is balanced, with six starters hitting .299 or better (paced by Behm at .366), eight having an OBP of at least .400 (topped by 2015 Danny Blugis at .479), and five with at least nine steals (2015 Zavier Webb leads with 29).

Lancaster County Christian Lions

The Lions made it three straight state tournament appearances by dominating the Commonwealth Christian Athletic Conference and then pulling out three close games (by scores of 3-0, 3-2 and 2-1) in district play. 2016 Kyle Ebersole authored complete games in the district semifinal and championship game (six days apart, for you pitch-counters and days-of-rest-trackers out there).

Juniata Valley Hornets

The Hornets (14-7) fell to Bishop McCort 4-1 in the District 6 title game. Juniata Valley relies heavily on the right arm of junior Konnor Barton (6-2/ 3.00 ERA/ 40 IP). The Hornets are led offensively by 2017 2B/SS Bryce Hensor (.514/ 27 RBI/ 23 Runs).

California Area Trojans

The Trojans (20-0) defeated section rival Carmichaels three times this year including a 6-1 victory in the WPIAL finals. 2014 RHP Josh Luko and 2015 RHP Garritt Woodburn are the 1-2 punch accounting for more than 75% of the team’s wins. A potent California offense has outscored opponents 189-49 and is led by 2014 C Jake Columbus, 2016 SS Louden Conte, 2015 OF Aaron Previsky and 2014 3B Ron Barron.

Cranberry Area Berries

The Berries (13-2) advanced to the state tournament as the runners-up in District 9 following a 13-3 loss to Elk County Catholic in the title game. 2015 LHP Dylan Cyphert, a Penn State commit, leads the Cranberry pitching staff with an upper 80’s fastball and will give Cranberry a chance to win every time he takes the mound.

Bishop McCort Crushers

The Crushers (16-7) are looking to win a 2nd Class A title in three years having won the gold in 2012. A number of players on the current roster were key contributors in that run. Bishop McCort has a potent offense but will likely rely on its deep pitching staff to make a run in this year’s tourney. The Crushers have four quality senior arms to call on in RHP Brad Coleman (8-2, Pitt-Johnstown recruit), RHP Justin Vardian (3-2, Penn State recruit), RHP Ethan Neiderhiser (2-1) and LHP Nathan Neiderhiser (Youngstown State recruit). Nathan Neiderhiser has been limited to one inning on the mound in 2014 and could provide the spark for state tournament success if he is able to return during the next two weeks.

Eisenhower Knights

The Knights (9-7) rode the right arm and left-handed bat of 2016 RHP/SS Casey Vincent to a District 10 title. Vincent, a member of Team Pennsylvania for the PBR Future Games this summer, tossed a complete game and hit a game tying three-run home run in the district title game win over Union City. 

Southern Fulton Indians

The Indians (22-2) beat Meyersdale 4-3 to win the Distrcit 5 championship and have outscored opponents 208-73 on the season. Southern Fulton has a pair of talented pitchers in 2016 RHP Trent Rider (9-0) and 2014 LHP Jordan Clingerman (7-0). 2015 3B Connor Litton (.471/ 23 RBI/ 37 Runs) has powered the potent Indians’ offense.

Carmichaels Area Mighty Mikes

The Mikes (14-3) have lost just three times this year with all losses coming to WPIAL champion California Area. 2014 RHP Brandon Lawless (8-2/ 2.20 ERA/ 60.1 IP) will likely get the ball to start state tournament action. 2014 SS Ty Cole (.444/ 30 RBI/ 13 Runs), 2014 OF Ryan Zalar (.429/ 11 RBI/ 29 Runs) and 2015 C Michael Blasinsky (.472/ 25 RBI) lead the Mikes offensive attack.

Elk County Catholic Crusaders

The Crusaders (23-0) have dominated opponents on the scoreboard to the tune of 211-42. 2014 RHP Brandon Schlimm (9-0/ 1.11 ERA/ 50.1 IP), a St. Bonaventure recruit, is the staff ace. 2014 RHP Ryan Childs (7-0/ 1.47 ERA/ 38 IP) has been nearly as dominant giving the Crusaders a 1-2 combination that could bode well for a deep state tournament run.

Sewickley Panthers

The Panthers (10-6) have gotten hot at the right time. Following a 7-5 regular season, Sewickley advanced to the state tournament by going 3-1 in the WPIAL tourney. Senior Mike Manzinger (.444/ 8 RBI/ 19 Runs) leads the Panthers’ offense.