Here’s a look at the WPIAL baseball playoffs, which begin Tuesday and conclude May 31 at Wild Things Park.

Spencer Barnett has been outstanding for North Allegheny this spring, hitting a team-high .414 with 8 extra-base hits, 13 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)


Defending champion: Mt. Lebanon.

No. 1 seed: Pine-Richland.

Player to watch: Spencer Barnett, North Allegheny. A senior shortstop and West Virginia recruit, Barnett has been swinging a hot bat throughout the season. Barnett is hitting a team-best .414 to go along with 8 extra-base hits, 13 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.

Sleeper: Mt. Lebanon. After an 0-8 start, there was serious doubt as to whether the defending champion would even make the playoffs. Since then, however, the Blue Devils have won 10 of 12, including their final seven Section 2 games. On Monday, left-hander David Shields, a Miami recruit, fired a no-hitter with 15 strikeouts in a win against Baldwin. Not since Seneca Valley in 2011-12 has a team repeated as champion in the district’s largest class.

Best first-round game: Canon-McMillan vs. Butler.

The lowdown: North Allegheny, Pine-Richland and Seneca Valley shared the Section 1 title. North Allegheny boasts a strong pitching staff led by Andrew Hart, J.D. Costanzo and David Posey. Hart is a Gardner-Webb recruit. Pine-Richland’s Jacob McGuire has a team-best 21 RBIs and also leads the team in wins. Seneca Valley comes in the hottest of those three teams, having won four games in a row, including a three-game sweep of Butler last week in which the Raiders gave up four total runs. … Keep an eye on Butler, which finally has its ace healthy. Virginia Tech recruit Madden Clement has given up only one unearned run and three hits combined in his last two starts. … Section 2 champion Canon-McMillan is hunting its first WPIAL title since 2018. The Big Macs have won eight of their last nine games and are led offensively by VMI football recruit Andrew Kocan, who is hitting .350 with five home runs and 25 RBIs. Pitt recruit Austyn Winkleblech is batting .294 to go along with a 4-1 record on the mound.

Championship picks: North Allegheny (Brad Everett); North Allegheny (Steve Rotstein).

Sophomore Ryan Petras has been one of the top players for Bethel Park, a two-time defending PIAA Class 5A champion seeking its first WPIAL title since 1987. (Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Union Progress).


Defending champion: West Allegheny.

No. 1 seed: Shaler.

Player to watch: Evan Holewinski, Bethel Park. Holewinski played a big part in Bethel Park winning PIAA titles his sophomore and junior seasons. Now a senior, the Kent State recruit is once again shining on the mound, only he’s also been a force at the plate, as well, emerging as one of the area’s top hitters. Can he lead the Black Hawks to their first WPIAL title since 1987?

Sleeper: Peters Township. Some might have written off the Indians after graduating a big senior class that helped lead them to the WPIAL final last season, but the drop off in wins has not been too steep. In fact, the Indians will carry a six-game win streak into the postseason. A pair of Jacks continue to hit a lot of jacks, with Jack Natili hitting a state-leading eight home runs and Jack Lutte five. Natili is a Rutgers recruit.

Best first-round game: Peters Township vs. West Allegheny.

The lowdown: Bethel Park winning back-to-back PIAA titles without claiming a WPIAL title was odd. While a PIAA three-peat would be nice, the Black Hawks would love to win gold at the district level, as well. In addition to multi-year starters Holewinski and John Chalus, the Section 2 champions have some talented youngsters like sophomores Ryan Petras and Ryan Walsh. … Section 3 champion Shaler might have the WPIAL’s most talented player. Senior pitcher-outfielder and Alabama recruit Miguel Hugas came to the United States from Venezuela just over two years ago and this summer could hear his name called in the MLB Draft. … It’s tough not to see South Fayette making a deep run. The Lions have won eight of their last nine games and feature Division I recruits Tyler Pitzer (South Carolina) and Michael DiMartini (Penn State). Pitzer had 15 strikeouts in each of his last two starts. … Penn-Trafford and Plum split the Section 1 title, and both have been rolling. Penn-Trafford has won eight of its last 10 games and Plum 9 of its last 11. … And don’t sleep on defending champion West Allegheny, which placed third in Section 3 but has won eight of its last nine games.

Championship picks: Bethel Park (Brad Everett); Bethel Park (Steve Rotstein).

West Mifflin’s Zane Griffaton (34) and Corey Kuszaj had a lot to celebrate during the regular season and will now try to help the Titans win a second consecutive WPIAL Class 4A title. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)


Defending champion: West Mifflin.

No. 1 seed: Montour.

Player to watch: Zac Stern, Montour. You won’t find many players having as good of an all-around season as Stern, a senior who has fueled the defending PIAA champions offensively and on the mound. Stern is batting .438 with 10 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. He’s also 5-0 with 2.54 ERA on the bump.

Sleeper: Laurel Highlands has the look of a team that could make a run. The Mustangs won their final five regular-season games to finish as the runner-up to Latrobe in Section 2. Just last season, the Mustangs advanced to the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals.

Best first-round game: Indiana vs. Laurel Highlands.

The lowdown: Might we see a championship rematch? Montour and West Mifflin played in a couple of big ones last season — West Mifflin beat Montour in the WPIAL final before the Spartans got revenge in the PIAA semifinals — and both are very good again this season. Montour shared the Section 1 title with Blackhawk, while West Mifflin and Chartiers Valley split the Section 3 title. Corey Kuszaj (.440, 20 RBIs) and Zane Griffaton (.417, 14 RBIs) have been two of West Mifflin’s top players. … Latrobe, the Section 2 champion, is one of the hottest teams around, having won nine of its last 10 games. … North Catholic won the Section 4 title despite a 9-10 overall record. The Trojans went 8-2 in section play and 1-8 in non-section games. Tommy Schafale has been their top pitcher. … Chartiers Valley owns wins against West Mifflin, Mt. Lebanon and Peters Township. The Colts feature pitcher Joey Vanzin, the team leader in wins and strikeouts.

Championship picks: West Mifflin (Brad Everett); Montour (Steve Rotstein).

Following terrific regular seasons, Mohawk’s Jay Wrona (21) and Riverside’s Bo Fornataro (30) will try to lead their teams to long WPIAL Class 3A playoff runs. (Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Union Progress).


Defending champion: South Park.

No. 1 seed: Riverside.

Player to watch: Mason Horwat, Avonworth. The Penn State recruit has had a marvelous two-way season for the Section 2 champions. A senior, Horwat is hitting .356 with team-highs of four home runs and 23 RBIs, while also going 5-0 with a 0.95 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 36⅔ innings.

Sleeper: South Allegheny. The Gladiators have never won a WPIAL title, so why not this season? The third-place team out of Section 2, the Gladiators own wins against Section 2 champion Avonworth and Section 3 champion East Allegheny. South Allegheny concluded the regular season with six consecutive wins while outscoring its opponents, 39-2.

Best first-round game: South Park vs. Shenango.

The lowdown: This class is loaded, but the team to beat is unquestionably Riverside, the WPIAL’s only unbeaten team. Coach Dan Oliastro, the WPIAL’s all-time wins leader who is in his 55th season, has guided the Panthers to a 17-0 record. Ashton Schlosser (.469) and Bo Fornataro (.447) have paced the offense while a deep pitching staff is highlighted by Duke recruit Christian Lucarelli (3-0, 67 strikeouts). … Fellow Section 1 teams Neshannock, Shenango and Mohawk could all make some noise. Mohawk’s Jay Wrona (.551) ranks among the WPIAL’s top hitters. … East Allegheny, the Section 3 champion, has an ace pitcher in Mike Cahill, who is 6-1 with a 0.30 ERA and has fanned 78 in 46⅓ innings. … For defending champion South Park, a title repeat isn’t out of the question. The Eagles have gotten a great season from Austin Lafferty, who is batting .510 with five home runs and 28 RBIs. … Section 4 champion Yough is led offensively by Jack Sampson, one of the top hitters in the class.

Championship picks: Riverside (Brad Everett); Neshannock (Steve Rotstein).

Serra Catholic’s Isiah Petty and Mike Schanck (27) hope to lead the Eagles to a second consecutive WPIAL Class 2A title. (Alexandra Wimley/Pittsburgh Union Progress)


Defending champion: Serra Catholic.

No. 1 seed: Serra Catholic.

Player to watch: Gio LoNero has been punishing the ball for Section 2 champion Seton LaSalle. A junior, LoNero is hitting .596 with 10 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs, 28 runs scored and 29 RBIs. LoNero has an on-base percentage of .641 and an OPS of 1.729.

Sleeper: Greensburg Central Catholic. The Centurions, a quarterfinalist the past two seasons, finished just behind Serra in Section 3 and own some excellent wins. Ethan Brody (5-0) has been their top pitcher. The Centurions won their only WPIAL title in 2015.

Best first-round game: Greensburg Central Catholic vs. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

The lowdown: Serra will be a tough out. The Section 3 champs have a dominant pitcher in senior Zach Karp, who is 9-1 this season and 32-3 in his career. The Eagles are also potent offensively with the likes of Joey DeMoss leading the way. … Seton LaSalle, New Brighton, South Side and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart had some battles in Section 2, and each has the potential to go a long way. Seton LaSalle boasts a team batting average of .403. New Brighton’s Bobby Budacki (8-1, 51 strikeouts) ranks among the state leaders in wins. South Side’s Luke McCoy is batting a team-high .558 and has driven in 21 runs, while Alex Arrigo is 6-0 with a 0.84 ERA. … Ryan Opfer and Keegan Kosek have given Chartiers-Houston a terrific 1-2 punch on the hill. Opfer is 8-0 and has struck out 71 in 47 innings, while Kosek has a record of 6-1. … Burgettstown, the Section 1 champion, also has two star pitchers in Brodie Kuzior (6-1) and Andrew Bredel (4-2).

Championship picks: Seton LaSalle (Brad Everett); Serra Catholic (Steve Rotstein).

Bishop Canevin’s Kole Olszewski went 6-2 with 62 strikeouts in the regular season and teams with Tyler Maddix to give the Crusaders a strong 1-2 punch. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)


Defending champion: Union.

No. 1 seed: Union.

Player to watch: Caleb Emswiler, Eden Christian. Emswiler, a junior, has been one of the forces offensively for the Warriors, who averaged 13 runs a game in the regular season. Emswiler is batting .579 with 21 RBIs and is also one of the team’s best pitchers.

Sleeper: Fort Cherry. The third-place finisher in Section 1, Fort Cherry has ripped off eight victories in a row and has strong wins against California and Bishop Canevin. Freshman Matt Sieg, who also runs track for the Rangers, leads the team with a .444 batting average, while Adam Wolfe has a team-high 20 RBIs.

Best first-round game: Fort Cherry vs. Sewickley Academy.

The lowdown: Union can make some history in a few weeks, as it hopes to become the first team since Pine-Richland (2004-06) to win three consecutive WPIAL titles. Several players are batting better than .500 for the Scotties, a group led by Dennen Bowen. Union was the only Class 1A section champion to not drop a game in section play. … Eden Christian is trying to get over the hump after some near misses. The Warriors lost in the PIAA final in 2021 and in the WPIAL final last season. … Winners of seven in a row, Bishop Canevin will be tough to beat due to the pitching tandem of sophomores Kole Olszewski (6-2, 62 strikeouts) and Tyler Maddix (5-1, 81 strikeouts). … Carmichaels and California shared the Section 1 title. Patrick Holaren has been a top player for Carmichaels, hitting .392 and going 5-0 on the mound, while California has gotten big seasons out of Ricky Lawson (.458, 31 RBIs) and Addison Panepinto (6-2, 1.83 ERA). … Sewickley Academy’s Adin Zorn is a Penn State recruit who is hitting .551 with five home runs and 19 RBIs.

Championship picks: Eden Christian (Brad Everett); Union (Steve Rotstein).

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at