Shenango is only two years removed from a WPIAL title and state finals appearance, so don’t let the No. 10 seed next to the Wildcats’ name fool you.
After bumping up from Class 2A to Class 3A, Shenango (13-8) encountered some bumps in the road during a rocky regular season. But the Wildcats proved to still have plenty of bite with a 6-3 upset of defending WPIAL champion South Park (14-6) in a first-round playoff matchup Thursday at Shaler’s Matulevic Field.
“I think the section we played in was the toughest section in 3A,” Shenango coach Larry Kelly said. “We didn’t consider ourselves an underdog. South Park is a very good team. They were the WPIAL champs last year, but we’re a good team, too. We had our ace pitcher on the mound, Zach Herb, and with him, we have a chance to beat anybody.”
South Park took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, then the Wildcats came back to tie the game on an RBI single by Braeden D’Angelo. Zach Ludwig belted a solo homer to put the Eagles back on top in the bottom of the third. Shenango still trailed, 3-2, after five innings, but the Wildcats plated four runs in the top of the sixth to take control.
With the win, Shenango advances to take on No. 2 Avonworth at a site and time to be determined next week. The Antelopes won the regular season meeting between the teams, 5-2.
“It was actually our second game of the season. We’re a different team,” Kelly said. “Our team has been in the fire, and I told them, one of two things happen when you play in the hottest fire. Either you melt, or the steel gets hotter, and the steel has gotten hotter for the Wildcats. We’re playing our best baseball.”
Zach Herb continued his stellar season on the mound for the Wildcats, striking out 10 while allowing five hits and walking three. He now has 82 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings with just 14 walks this year. He also had three hits at the plate Thursday.
“Zach Herb was outstanding,” Kelly said. “Braden Zeigler came in and closed out the game. He’s hitting about .550 this year. … Braeden D’Angelo drove in a big run. Sammy Patton, a sophomore, drove in a big run. Those were the guys to carry the load for us today. That’s what you expect when you have three seniors like Zach, Braden and Braeden.”
Other Class 3A
• Kelly’s assertion that Section 1 was the toughest in Class 3A this season was further validated by No. 12 Mohawk‘s 9-3 upset of No. 5 Greensburg Salem (13-6). The Warriors (13-7) used a six-run fourth to blow the game wide open. With wins by Mohawk, Shenango, Neshannock and Riverside, all four playoff teams from Section 1 advanced to the quarterfinal round. Mohawk will take on No. 4 East Allegheny for a spot in the WPIAL semifinals.
• By leading No. 10 Riverview (10-7) to a 7-2 win against No. 7 Charleroi (12-5), Enzo Lio again proved to be one of the best pitchers in Class 2A. Lio went 5 2/3 innings while striking out eight and allowing two runs on six hits, raising the ace lefty’s total to 82 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings on the year. Luke Migely and Jack Loughren hit back-to-back two-run doubles to spark a five-run second inning for the Raiders, who will face Seton LaSalle in the WPIAL quarterfinals.
• No. 11 Ligonier Valley (12-7) took down No. 6 Chartiers-Houston (16-4) in a 9-8 slugfest. Haden Sierocky, Duncan Foust and Leo Bazala each had multi-hit games for the Rams, who will face No. 3 New Brighton in the quarterfinal round.
• Tyler Richmond tripled and drove in a pair of runs for No. 5 Carmichaels (15-3), and the Mighty Mikes easily advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals with an 11-0 win over No. 12 Cornell (6-11). Carmichaels will take on No. 4 California early next week for a trip to the WPIAL semifinals.
• With the game tied after five innings, No. 9 Sewickley Academy (10-7) overpowered No. 8 Fort Cherry (11-9) late with four runs in the sixth inning and three more in the seventh in a 13-6 victory. Next, Sewickley will attempt to pull off a massive upset of two-time defending champion and top-seeded Union in the quarterfinal round.
Avonworth 9, Derry 0
East Allegheny 6, Waynesburg 0
Freeport 9, South Allegheny 2
Mohawk 9, Greensburg Salem 3
Neshannock 6, Shady Side Academy 5
Riverside 8, Valley 0
Shenango 6, South Park 3
Yough 12, Keystone Oaks 2
Ligonier Valley 9, Chartiers-Houston 8
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 1, Greensburg Central Catholic 0
Riverview 7, Charleroi 2
South Side Beaver 8, Bentworth 3
Bishop Canevin 10, Western Beaver 0
Carmichaels 11, Cornell 0
Rochester 6, Avella 4
Sewickley Academy 13, Fort Cherry 6