Serra Catholic’s pitching had been dynamite all spring, allowing only 30 runs in 18 games.

Just like last season, though, that dynamite met its kryptonite in the WPIAL championship game, which again led Seton LaSalle to having a blast.

In a game that featured a weather delay of about an hour, Mark Weber fired six scoreless innings and No. 3 Seton LaSalle used a four-run third inning to capture its second consecutive WPIAL title following a 5-0 win against No. 1 Serra in the Class 2A championship Wednesday at Wild Things Park.

It was the third WPIAL title in six years and fourth overall for Seton LaSalle (17-3), which also defeated Serra (17-2) in the 2019 and 2023 championship games. And just like those previous meetings (Seton LaSalle won them by scores of 11-2 and 8-1), the Rebels tagged Serra for the most runs they have given up all season. The Eagles also surrendered five in its only other loss, a 5-4 defeat to Valley last month.

“We just play our game,” said second-year Seton LaSalle coach Brad Bestic. “I wish I was this mad scientist drawing up stuff at home that I’m bringing to practice, but I’m not. I just feel like we have a great mindset as a collective and we just translate it well on the field.”

Impressively, Seton LaSalle did it without senior standout Gio LoNero, whose .644 batting average in the regular season led the WPIAL. LoNero was ejected from Seton LaSalle’s semifinal win against No. 2 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, which, under PIAA rules, forced him to be suspended for two games. LoNero, a North Alabama recruit, is not only an excellent hitter but also one of the team’s top pitchers.

“Once we lost him in the OLSH game, we were able to come back and rally together and get some runs,” said junior first baseman Brayden Carter, who had two hits and two RBIs. “I think that was kind of our mindset coming into this game.”

Seton LaSalle didn’t have a ton of hits — it finished with six — but the Rebels were able to package a few together at a key time while also taking advantage of some Serra defensive miscues.

After Aric White scored on a throwing error in the first inning, Seton LaSalle struck for four runs during a huge third inning that saw the Rebels increase their lead to 5-0. Josh Burkholder and Weber began the frame with consecutive hits to put runners on the corners, and Weber proceeded to steal second. Burkholder then scored on Connor Rothaar’s sacrifice fly. Three batters later, Carter cracked a two-run double to bring home Weber and Roman LoNero, who had reached on a single. The Rebels tacked on another run courtesy of another Serra error.

“Usually in my at-bats, I’m like, ‘Hit first pitch. You don’t have to worry about the rest, so if you see a fastball, hit it,’” Carter explained. “When I was rounding first, I thought coach was waving me on. I was like, ‘Coach, I’m a big boy. I don’t know if I can get there.’ So I stopped at second.”

And then, just as Serra went to the plate in the bottom half of the third, the skies opened up. A rain delay followed by a lightning delay caused the game to be halted for just over an hour. Carter’s single in the sixth turned out to be Seton LaSalle’s only hit following the delay against Serra’s Owen Dumbroski, who pitched the final four innings in relief of starter Tyler Skaggs.

Seton LaSalle’s Mark Weber pitched six scoreless innings to pick up the win in his team’s 5-0 win against Serra Catholic in Wednesday’s WPIAL Class 2A championship. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

As was the case last season when Brian Reed silenced the Serra bats, Seton LaSalle received a strong performance from its starting pitcher. Weber, a senior right-hander, scattered eight hits over six scoreless innings, walking one and striking out eight to improve to 6-1 on the season. Serra came in averaging 10.7 runs per game.

“Mark’s been exceptional all year,” Bestic said. “We had the delay and he was at about 30 pitches. And I said to him, ‘There’s your bullpen. You’ve still got 75 pitches left, so there’s your bullpen. Go get them.”

Said Serra coach Brian Dzurenda, “It wasn’t our day today. You tip your cap to their pitcher. He did a nice job changing speeds and keeping our guys off balance.”

Seton LaSalle’s Brayden Carter chases Serra Catholic’s Isiah Petty back to third before throwing the ball to third baseman Nathan Baxendell, who recorded the final out of the fifth inning of Seton LaSalle’s 5-0 win. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Weber did pitch around some trouble, particularly in the third and fifth innings, but was aided by some excellent defensive plays. Serra loaded the bases with one out in the third, but Seton LaSalle third baseman Nathan Baxendell corralled Jake Holmes’ ground ball, stepped on third and used a strong throw to first to complete the double play. Serra then put runners on first and third with two outs in the fifth. With Holmes batting, Weber faked a pick-off throw to third base and caught Zach Black straying too far off of first base. Weber flipped the ball to Carter, who ran all the way across the diamond before flipping the ball to Baxendell, who tagged Isiah Petty for the third out.

“I’ve never gone across the diamond, but I was able to do it,” Carter said.

Burkholder, a freshman, pitched around an error in the seventh to earn the save.

Serra, which saw its six-game win streak snapped, lost in the championship game as the No. 1 seed for the second year in a row. The Eagles were seeking their fifth title and first since 2022. They actually out-hit Seton LaSalle, 8-6, with Petty accounting for three of the hits, all singles.

“Facing a team and a program that’s as quality and high level as they are, it’s special,” said Bestic, who won his third WPIAL title. He captured one at Vincentian in 2018. “To know that not only are you repeating, but you’re beating arguably the best program in 2A arguably every year, it’s outstanding for our guys.”

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