The weather forecast for tonight includes a chance of thundershowers. But it could be an absolutely "perfect" night for baseball at Consol Energy Park.
Two WPIAL championships will be played at the Washington Wild Things stadium, and two teams are trying to join the elite class of "perfect" WPIAL champions.
Quaker Valley (21-0) will face Beaver (16-3) in the Class AA championship at 5 p.m., followed by the Class AAA title game at 8 p.m. between South Park (23-0) and Hopewell (20-3). Since the WPIAL switched to more than one classification in baseball in 1979, only four teams have won a title with undefeated records. Never have two teams done it in the same season as could be the case with South Park and Quaker Valley.
Since 1979, the only four "perfect" champs have been Freeport (1979), Canevin (1993), West Allegheny (2007) and Elizabeth Forward (2011).
"Honestly, we haven't talked at all about being undefeated," South Park coach Steve Bucci said.
Quaker Valley coach Todd Goble said neither he nor his team has paid much attention to the significance of being undefeated.
"Most of our guys have no concept of the past, and this is only my first year here [at Quaker Valley] so I have no concept of it, either," said Goble, who grew up in Michigan. "We really have never brought our record up."
Bucci and Goble are believable, but one coach who has been through the "perfect" run said being undefeated is most certainly in the back of the minds of players and coaches, whether they admit it or not. Bryan Cornell was the coach of a West Allegheny team that won the 2007 WPIAL title with a 23-0 record.
"As much as you try and tell your team to focus on one game at a time, it gets to a point in the season where it's hard to do because of the [undefeated] record," Cornell said. "Being undefeated adds pressure. It's like self-automatic pressure."
Cornell believes it is harder to win a WPIAL baseball title with an undefeated record than it is in football and basketball.
"Even when you get to the playoffs, luck is involved, like who beat who, where are you seeded," Cornell said. "All of that plays a factor. You need to have the ball bounce your way at some points to stay undefeated. Plus, if you're playing three baseball games a week in the regular season and sometimes four, it takes team pitching and then anything can happen in some of those games. Weather becomes a factor in maybe backing up games.
"The right thing to do is not worry about your record and just go game to game. But that's not easy to do. Looking back, it is something that is a pretty amazing feat to go undefeated."
South Park and Quaker Valley are similar in many ways. They have given up the same amount of runs (44) this season. Both have strong offenses. Both have been in WPIAL title games only once before -- South Park lost to Washington, 9-4, in 2002, while Quaker Valley beat Carlynton, 7-4, in eight innings in 1984.
"The greatest thing about these kids is they love to play baseball, and they don't look in the past," Goble said.
Bucci insisted his team, despite an undefeated record, is an underdog against Hopewell. This is Hopewell's third championship appearance in the past four years.
"These teams we've been playing don't care what our record is," Bucci said. "I think we probably have to be the underdog, even though we are 23-0. Just because of Hopewell's pedigree. They have experienced players who have played in a lot of big games. We have a group that has only won three playoff games.
"Before this year, no one on this team won a playoff game. If you asked a lot of people, I think it would be a split poll on who would win this game."
The other two WPIAL championship games are Wednesday at Consol Energy Park. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (19-2) will play Western Beaver (20-2) for the Class A championship at 5 p.m. and Seneca Valley (18-3) will meet North Allegheny (19-4) for the AAAA title at 8 p.m.
South Park and Quaker Valley aren't the only ones trying to do something of historical significance:
• Seneca Valley will try to become only the third team in the history of the WPIAL to win three consecutive titles. Allegheny won six in a row from 1917-22, and Pine-Richland won three from 2004-06. Pirates second baseman Neil Walker was Pine-Richland's star in 2004.
• North Allegheny is trying to win its seventh WPIAL title, which would tie Allegheny and McKeesport for the most in WPIAL history.
• Our Lady of the Sacred Heart never has made it to a WPIAL title game before, and Western Beaver is in its second. Western Beaver beat Rochester, 12-5, for the 2000 Class A title.
For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh. First Published May 28, 2013 4:00 AM