The sun has set on another high school baseball season, one that concluded Friday following a rainy afternoon at the PIAA championships.

This season had many highlights. Mt. Lebanon left-hander David Shields drew loads of MLB scouts every time he took the mound. Some were on hand to watch him throw in the WPIAL Class 6A championship, a game that saw Shields’ mound opponent, David Posey, fire a no-hitter to help North Allegheny end Mt. Lebanon’s two-year reign as champion.

Seton LaSalle’s Gio LoNero was busy once again mashing baseballs left and right, while Indiana’s Ben Ryan launched a few of them into orbit. We were introduced to talented freshmen like Mt. Lebanon’s Graham Keen, and watched promising talents such as Knoch’s Zane Pacek, a teen who hopes to one day become the tallest player in MLB history.

Of course, many champions were crowned. Penn-Trafford captured its first WPIAL title, while Avonworth claimed its first in 32 years. Seton LaSalle and Bishop Canevin repeated as WPIAL champions. North Allegheny and North Catholic won titles, as well.

It’s now officially awards season, and no one brings you them sooner than the Pittsburgh Union Progress. Introducing the second-annual PUP baseball awards, which celebrate the best of the best from the 2024 high school baseball season. These aren’t your cookie cutter-type of awards. They are category-based and include such honors as Most Feared Slugger, Rookie of the Year and Best Name.

All players in the WPIAL and City League were considered, and all finalists and winners were selected by the PUP sports staff.

Mt. Lebanon’s David Shields is headed to the University of Miami … if he isn’t drafted in the major leagues. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

(Winners in bold)

Best Pitcher

David Shields, Mt. Lebanon

Zach Hare, Riverside

David Posey, North Allegheny

Skinny: An illness slowed Shields down early in the season, but once healthy, it was full steam ahead for the talented lefty. The Miami recruit showed why he is expected to be selected in the first couple rounds of next month’s MLB Draft by going 5-1 with a 0.51 ERA while striking out 61 and walking only four in 35 innings, all while typically throwing in front of dozens of scouts.

No player in the WPIAL hit the ball at a higher clip than Seton LaSalle’s Gio LoNero, who batted .632 for the WPIAL Class 2A champs. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Best Pure Hitter

Gio LoNero, Seton LaSalle

Zane Griffaton, West Mifflin

Brady Hull, Eden Christian

Skinny: The kid named after Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio put a jolt into many baseballs this spring. A North Alabama recruit, LoNero led the WPIAL with a .632 batting average, marking the third year in a row he hit at least .565. He also scored 37 runs, knocked in 22, and collected 15 extra-base hits for the WPIAL Class 2A champs.

Indiana’s Ben Ryan hit home runs in some big games this season, one coming against North Catholic in the WPIAL Class 4A championship. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Most Feared Slugger

Ben Ryan, Indiana

Blake Primrose, North Catholic

Gio LoNero, Seton LaSalle

Skinny: This “Big Ben” not only led all WPIAL players with 10 home runs, but a few of those blasts came in some of Indiana’s biggest games. A senior third baseman-pitcher and Quinnipiac recruit, Ryan homered in the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals, WPIAL championship and twice in the PIAA championship.

North Allegheny’s David Posey (right) celebrates with his team after a 1-0 win against Mt. Lebanon in the WPIAL Class 6A championship. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Best Championship Performance

David Posey, North Allegheny

Cooper Scharding, Avonworth

Joe Safar, North Catholic

Skinny: A senior right-hander and Navy recruit, Posey was a force through the air as he tossed a no-hitter with 11 strikeouts to lead his army of North Allegheny teammates to a 1-0 upset of two-time defending champion Mt. Lebanon in the WPIAL Class 6A championship.

Brady Alexander approaches home plate after his three-run home run in Shaler’s 3-2 win against South Fayette in the first round of the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs. (Ross Insana)

Most Clutch Performance

Brady Alexander, Shaler

Carson Franc, Avonworth

Michael Hershberger, North Allegheny

Skinny: Severe weather forced the Shaler-South Fayette WPIAL Class 5A first-round game to be played over two days. Shaler trailed, 1-0, heading into Day 2, but Alexander, the final hitter of Day 1 and first of Day 2, provided the thunder, hitting a three-run homer on the second pitch he saw to spark Shaler to a 3-1 win.

Baseball players don’t come bigger than Knoch’s Zane Pacek, who at 7 feet, 250 pounds is usually the center of attention. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

BMOC Award

Zane Pacek, Knoch

Colby Weber, Shaler

Santino Diulus, Bethel Park

Skinny: Weber and Diulus are both 6 feet 6, but the Big Man on Campus Award goes to the tallest player you might ever see. At 7 feet, 250 pounds, Pacek was a big attraction. Pacek has talent to go along with his size, and considering he was only a sophomore, we’ll likely be seeing a lot more of him the next two years.

Mt. Lebanon’s Graham Keen had quite the freshman season, leading the Blue Devils in home runs and RBIs while also leading the pitching staff in wins. (Adam Feth)

Rookie of the Year

Graham Keen, Mt. Lebanon

Josh Burkholder, Seton LaSalle

Ryan Huey, Fort Cherry

Skinny: Keen was no ordinary freshman. A two-way starter for a Mt. Lebanon team that played for a WPIAL Class 6A title for the third year in a row, Keen batted .324 with team bests of six home runs and 24 RBIs while also going 6-1 with a 1.42 ERA. Keen was ranked by scouting services as the state’s top freshman.

Best Brothers

Caleb and Noah Emswiler, Eden Christian

Tyler and Jackson Maddix, Bishop Canevin

Brandon and Brady Brazell, O.L. Sacred Heart

Skinny: The Emswiler brothers played big parts in Eden Christian making it to both the WPIAL and PIAA Class 1A championship games. Caleb, a senior and Gardner-Webb recruit, hit .425 with 16 extra-base hits and 40 RBIs, while Noah, a sophomore, batted .297 with 19 RBIs and scored 30 runs. Each also won two games on the mound.

Best Name

Justus Buckingham, Chartiers-Houston

Cash Wyble, Burrell

Levi Parrott, Eden Christian

Skinny: It’s doubtful that Buckingham lives in a palace, but it’s certain he owns one of the WPIAL’s most unique names. And the heck with justice being served, it was Justus who served opposing pitchers with hard-hit balls. A sophomore, Buckingham batted .333 with 12 RBIs.

Best Video Interview

Tyler Maddix, Bishop Canevin

Cooper Scharding, Avonworth

David Posey, North Allegheny

Skinny: Maddix receives this award for the second consecutive season after showing a lot of composure — on the field AND on film — while helping Canevin repeat as WPIAL Class 1A champion. Maddix was the winning pitcher and added three RBIs, and also remained cool (cold to be precise) while teammates doused him with water as he was being interviewed.

Check back Monday and Tuesday, when we reveal the PUP baseball Player of the Year and Coach of the Year for the 2024 season. The finalists are listed below.

Player of the Year

Jake Robinson, Montour

David Shields, Mt. Lebanon

Gio LoNero, Seton LaSalle

Coach of the Year

Jeff Bywalski, Avonworth

Dan Petroff, Indiana

Lou Cortazzo, Penn-Trafford

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