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WPIAL baseball capsules

| Tuesday, May 31, 2005

WPIAL

Class AAAA

North Allegheny (20-2, 11-1) vs. Upper St. Clair (13-9, 8-7)

When : 7:30 p.m., Wednesday

Where : Falconi Field, Washington

Road to the finals : North Allegheny def. Connellsville, 7-2; and Baldwin, 4-0. Upper St. Clair def. Norwin, 10-5; Canon-McMillan, 3-2; and Penn-Trafford, 4-3.

Probable lineups : North Allegheny - CF Blake Jurena, SS John Quimby, LF Tim Merolillo, C Pat Trettel, RF Harry Austin, DH Brian Roberts, 2B Dave Bergstrom, 1B Mike Juliano, 3B Evan Mulzet. Upper St. Clair - C Kris McDonough, 3B John Bocchini, OF Danny Cafaro, DH/2B Chris Coleman, SS Ryan O'Connor, 1B Jack Greemberg, OF - TBA.

The big-school championship features perennial contender North Allegheny against streaking Upper St. Clair. Top-seed North Allegheny is in the WPIAL finals for 10th time in 16 years. The Section 1-AAAA champion has won 13 of its past 14 games. LHP Tim Merolillo leads the team with a .500-plus batting average. He has struck out just once in 68 at-bats but went 0-3 with a walk the in semifinals versus Baldwin. Right fielder Harry Austin is red-hot at the plate, having batted in two runs with the game's only extra-base hit in the semifinal shutout win over Baldwin. North Allegheny, which lost to Neil Walker-led Pine-Richland last season, is ranked No. 8 in USA Today's east region. No other state team is in the top 10.

After an 0-3 start, Upper St. Clair is in the finals for the first time since the 1992 Sean Casey-led squad won the WPIAL championship. Coach Jerry Malarkey graduated six starters from last year's section champion and has only four seniors. Upper St. Clair started the season with a pair of 10-run losses and a 9-3 defeat at Bethel Park before senior captains Danny Cafaro and Chris Coleman gave the team a pep talk. It rebounded to win three of its next four games and rides a season-high six-game winning streak into Wednesday's championship. The Panthers won three Section 3 games in three days, including two over Mt. Lebanon, to clinch third place. Justin Darby threw a five-hitter in 3-2, quarterfinal upset win over Canon-McMillian.

Class AAA

Pine-Richland (14-6, 11-3) vs. Moon Township (15-7, 8-4)

When : 5 p.m., Wednesday

Where : Falconi Field, Washington

Road to the finals : Pine-Richland def. Ringgold, 7-6; and West Allegheny, 3-2. Moon Township def. Greensburg Salem, 6-5; Blackhawk, 12-2 in five innings; and Peters Township, 8-6.

Probable lineups : Pine-Richland - CF John Karr, 2B Josh Spicer, SS Colin Durborow, C Ryan Schleiden, 3B Cono Passione, 1B Jason Haggerty, LF Chris Clancy, RF Dan Koeller.

Pine-Richland is trying to become the first team to win consecutive AAA titles since North Allegheny in 1990-91. The Rams, in the finals for the third consecutive season, have relied on pitching instead of its usual power-hitting lineup. Greg Pampiks, who is a game-time decision to start versus Moon Township, threw a complete game in a 3-2 semifinal win over West Allegheny. The right-hander beat WA's Greg Marshall, who threw a no-hitter in the first round. Coach Jeff Rojik's Rams are on a season-high six-game winning streak. They won both playoff games by one run, however, and average just six per game.

It and has scored more than seven in only four games this year. Half of its 14 wins have come by two or fewer runs, but it averaged 9-5 runs in its last four games. Four of Pine-Richland's six losses came in a rough six-game stretch in the middle of the season. PR's only other losses were to AAAA schools Plum and Shaler.

Moon Township lost four of its first six games, but made a late-season surge under first-year coach Dom Santeufemio. It won rain-delayed game over Greensburg in first round, then blasted Blackhawk in a mercy-rule ended game. Moon Township won six of its last eight regular season games.

Class AA

North Catholic (14-9, 8-4) vs. Riverside (20-1, 11-1)

When : 5 p.m., Tuesday

Where : Falconi Field, Washington

Road to the finals : North Catholic def. Greensburg Central Catholic, 10-0, in five innings; Washington, 4-0; and Seton-LaSalle, 10-8. Riverside def. Brentwood, 13-3; Quaker Valley, 15-0 in three innings; and Center, 15-4.

Probable lineups : North Catholic - SS David DeIuliis, RF Mike Wahl, P/CF Dan DeIuliis, 1B Corey Roslonski, C Doug Susco, 3B Chris Siwek, CF/LF Ryan Irvine, 2B/SS Justin Abbott, LF Andy McGrady. Riverside - 1B Casey Marburger, DH Jon Jurinko, 3B Dave Evans, RF Christian Valeriano, SS Johnny Elms, C Joe Jurinko, 2B Danny Brown, LF Ryan McCandless, P Curtis Brown, CF Steve Lowry.

This match-up showcases the biggest seeding difference in the WPIAL finals. North Catholic, the No. 11 seed, is the lowest ranked team to make any WPIAL championship. Riverside is ranked No. 1, but will be tested by North Catholic 's pitching staff, which has allowed just nine hits and no earned runs in 20 post-season innings. Sophomore left-hander Alex Valadja threw a no-hitter in the opening round versus Greensburg Central and had key three-run double versus Seton-LaSalle, which led 7-4 at one point. Senior right-hander Matt Meeder pitched one-hitter in a 4-0 second-round win over Washington and pitched the final three outs for the save versus Seton-LaSalle. Meeder's two-run double drove in the winning runs. Five players committed errors in the sloppy, 10-8 win. Two of North Catholic's losses are to AAAA teams. The Trojans are in the WPIAL finals for first time since losing to Plum in 1998 under current North Allegheny coach Tim Banner.

Riverside has yet to be challenged in the playoffs, winning its three games, 43-7. It has won six in a row since its only loss, 5-4, to Neshannock. Just nine of its games have been decided by six or fewer runs. Riverside won its only title in 1999. Senior RHP Curtis Brown is 9-0 and will pitch for his 10th win in 11 games.

Class A

Chartiers-Houston (19-0, 12-0) vs. Carmichaels (20-1, 13-1)

When : 7:30 p.m. p.m., Tuesday

Where : Falconi Field, Washington

Road to the finals : Chartiers-Houston def. Our Lady of Scared Heart, 7-3; and California, 5-1. Carmichaels def. Bishop Canevin, 7-1; and Union, 2-0.

Probable lineups : Chartiers-Houston - 2B Scott Moskal, P Andy McIlvaine, SS/3B Dan Novak, LF Bob Mary C Brady Yevins, RF Zach Burt, CF Jake France, DH Kevin Stevens, 1B Anthony Kowalski, SS Evan Chappel or 3B Brandon Crawford. Carmichaels - CF Niko Buday, 1B Karl Cole, C Jeff Lapkowicz, P Jared Lapkowicz, 2B Jamie bandish, DH Phil Judy, SS Tim Voithofer, 3B Marcus Robinson, RF Cody Andrews, LF Bob Virgili.

These two teams are the WPIAL's finest in terms of record. No. 1 seed Chartiers-Houston and second-seeded Carmichaels have combined to win their last 33 games.

Chartiers-Houston , coached by Dan Anderson, is the lone remaining WPIAL undefeated. Only Bishop-Canevin in 1993 and Freeport in '79 have finished undefeated and won WPIAL titles. Freeport beat Chartiers-Houston in 1979, the last time the Buccaneers were in the finals. Chartiers-Houston is batting .410 as a team. Dan Novak, who will hit in the third spot and play shortstop or third base, is hitting .530. The Liberty signee has four home runs. Andy McIlvaine, whose grandfather coached the 1979 Chartiers-Houston team, will start for the Buccaneers. McIlvaine is 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA. The Duquesne recruit has 64 strikeouts in just 51 innings.

Carmichaels , the Section 1 champion, has won 14 straight after an April 11, 10-6 loss at California. It is in the WPIAL finals for the third year in a row. It won the Class A title in 2003, but lost last season. Senior LHP Jared Lapkowicz is the WPIAL's career victory leader. Catcher Jeff Lapkowicz, Jared's twin, is hitting .600.

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