High school baseball: Semifinal previews

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WPIAL BASEBALL

SemifinalS

(All games today)

CLASS AAAA

The games: Seneca Valley (17-3) vs. Pine-Richland (17-4) 7 p.m., Pullman Park, Butler; North Allegheny (18-4) vs. Hempfield (19-3) 4 p.m., Matulevic Field, Shaler.

The scoop: Seneca Valley has an ace pitcher in Connor Coward, who is 7-0. He previously pitched Thursday in the quarterfinals, but coach Eric Semega said he would not come back with Coward if the semifinals were Monday. When asked if would start Coward in the semifinals, Semega answered, "Possibly." Seneca Valley and Pine-Richland used to play in the same section until this season. Pine-Richland beat Seneca Valley April 3, 14-11. ... North Allegheny is the No. 2 seed and has been strong offensively the latter part of the season. The Tigers are averaging eight runs in their eight-game winning streak. Hempfield will pitch ace Zach Martinelli (5-0), who struck out 18 in a first-round game against Fox Chapel.

Predicted winners: Seneca Valley, North Allegheny.

? CLASS AAA

The games: South Park (22-0) vs. Keystone Oaks (17-4) 4 p.m., Upper St. Clair; Hopewell (19-3) vs. West Allegheny (17-5) 7 p.m., Burkett Complex, Robinson.

The scoop: Only one Eagles team will soar to the final (South Park and Keystone Oaks are both nicknamed Eagles). Undefeated South Park has crushed most opponents this season, averaging 9.8 runs a game. South Park had four players bat above .450 in the regular season -- Nick Yobbi, Justin Dilla, Chris Winkler and Shane Fetsko. But Keystone Oaks has a stellar pitcher in Jared Skolnicki, who is a 8-0 and has allowed only three runs in 49 innings. He has 77 strikeouts. ... Hopewell and West Allegheny split two previous meetings. Hopewell won the first, 7-0, and West Allegheny the second, 4-3. Hopewell has had two drastically different playoff games. The Vikings defeated Derry, 1-0, in the first round but crushed Blackhawk, 13-3, in the second round.

Predicted winners: South Park, West Allegheny.

? CLASS AA

The games: Quaker Valley (20-0) vs. Deer Lakes (17-3) 4 p.m., Fox Chapel; Beaver (15-3) vs. Shady Side Academy (15-7) 4 p.m., Pullman Park, Butler.

The scoop: Quaker Valley, one of two undefeated teams in the WPIAL, features pitcher Tyler Garbee, who leads the WPIAL in wins with nine. But the Quakers also have Jake Pilewicz, who pitched a one-hitter against Freeport in the quarterfinals. If Deer Lakes' season is any indication, the game will be close. The Lancers have played eight one-run games and both of their playoff wins came by one run. ... Beaver has won 10 of 11 games. Shady Side Academy has been strong with the bats at times. The Indians have scored nine runs or more eight times.

Predicted winners: Quaker Valley, Beaver.

? CLASS A

The games: Serra (18-1) vs. Western Beaver (16-2) 4 p.m., North Allegheny; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (18-2) vs. California (17-4) 4 p.m., Burkett Complex, Robinson.

The scoop: Serra has allowed only nine hits in two playoff games. Wayne Hydak (7-0) will start and face a Western Beaver team that scored double figures in runs 11 times in the regular season. Hydak also tied for the WPIAL lead in RBIs in the regular season with 32. ... No one in the WPIAL has really challenged OLSH this year. Both losses were to teams out of state. The Chargers have won every WPIAL game by at least four runs and two postseason games by 17-1. California is trying to make it to the title game for the second consecutive season and fourth time in eight years.

Predicted winners: Serra, OLSH.

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