2015 PIAA Class AA State Tournament Preview



By Jacob Gill
Philadelphia Region Director of Scouting

And then there were sixteen. The first round of the 2015 PIAA Class AA state tournament starts tomorrow at various sites across the state. Below is a preview of each participating team (listed in bracket order, separated by first-round match-up), followed by how our staff sees the tournament playing out.

Notes:
X-Y before a school name = District-Bid (e.g. 3-2 is the runner-up from District III).

If multiple districts are listed before a school name, those districts combined to form a sub-regional to determine that bid.

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3-1 Camp Hill Lions (18-4)
Four losses are by a combined eight runs, all against quality 3A schools. Have won 11 in a row and 14 of last 15 games. Shippensburg-bound Michael Hope (75.2 IP, 27 H, 36 BB, 97 K), teams with juniors Jack Dunphy (41 IP, 26 H, 21 BB, 31 K) and Andrew Freedenberg (34 IP, 28 H, 4 BB, 12 K) on a pitching staff that authored nine shutouts and and allowed two or less runs in all but one game during that span. Dunphy (.309 AVG, 16 SB), junior Michael Shuster (.333 AVG, 18 SB), and Hope (.394 AVG, 11 XBH) spark the offense.

4-2 Troy Area Trojans (17-6)
Won 15 of 18 to start the season before dropping three of last five games, but won the two among those that mattered most. A veteran offense is this team’s calling card, with eight of ten players who receive regular playing time hitting better than .300, led by junior Kyle Schucker (.431 AVG, 12 XBH, and seniors Brandon Mattocks (.360 AVG, 12 SB), Kyle Jackson (.333 AVG, 9 XBH), Jarod Mattocks (.348 OBP, .483 OBP), and Isaac Havens (.342 AVG, 8 XBH). Could be without senior first baseman Mitchel Morse (.304 AVG, 13 BB vs 4 K), who suffered a concussion and was working his way through the testing protocol at last update. To make a deep run, a pitching staff led by Schucker (39.1 IP, 33 H, 19 BB, 28 K), Jackson (35.1 IP, 31 H, 38 BB, 34 K), and Havens (30.1 IP, 19 H, 30 BB, 34 K), will likely need to sharpen its command (composite more walks than strikeouts for the entire staff).

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12-1 Neumann-Goretti Saints (17-4)
Tommy NardiniBrian VerrattiThe Philadelphia Catholic League regular-season and tournament runner-up played a predominantly 3A/4A schedule this year, with all of their losses coming against schools from those classifications (including two against district 3A rep Archbishop Wood). For most of the season, Gwynedd Mercy-bound Gino Tripodi and junior Ethan Pritchett led a pitching staff that was recently bolstered by the return from injury of College of Charleston-bound Pat Doudican. The line-up is deep and balanced, while also providing strong defensive support. Five position players are currently committed to college programs -- Bay To (Fairleigh Dickinson), Justin Curtin (Gwynedd Mercy), Matt McKeown (Delaware), Tommy Nardini (Gwynedd Mercy), & emotional leader Vinny Vaccone (Mercer County CC) -- while juniors Lou Testa, Nicky D’Amore, and Brian Verratti will do so eventually themselves.

1-1 Devon Prep Tide (18-4)
The defending 1A state champs moved up a class, but haven’t missed a beat, losing only one game to a PIAA team all year (three came vs Inter-Ac schools), while posting identical 7-2 records against the 2A teams on its schedule, as well as the 3A/4A teams it played. Two-thirds of the starting line-up has committed to play college baseball, with Penn-bound first baseman Sean Phelan and Boston College-bound catcher Dominic Hardaway providing thump in the 3- and 4-holes. The infield trio of Drew-bound Eric DiPietro, and juniors Matt Bevilacqua and Tony Gallo, both Lehigh commits, plus Juniata-bound outfielder Tyler Klicka, provide run production as well. The pitching staff has been led by Scranton-bound Pat Rohr, along with juniors John McSurdy and Danny Brace. 

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4-1 Loyalsock Township Lancers (21-2)
Tommy BaggettEvan MooreWhat else is there to say about the two-time defending state champs? The Lancers opened the season going 2-2 at the National High School Baseball Invitational against top teams from around the country, all of which hailed from schools that are at least three times the size of LTHS. Since returning home from that event, they have not lost and have rarely been tested. North Carolina-bound Kyle Datres, Duke-bound Luke Glavin, senior Jimmy Webb, and sophomore Andrew Malone are a formidable quartet on the mound.  Wake Forest-bound Webb and Datres fuel an offense that also get significant contributions from the Shippensburg-bound duo of Tommy Baggett and Evan Moore, along with Penn State Greater Allegheny-bound Joey Balawajder.

2-1 Montrose Meteors (15-2)
The LIAA Division 4 regular-season champ played ten games against 1A opponents, but did go 6-1 against the 2A teams on its schedule. In three district tournament games, pitched two shutouts and allowed only two total runs in 20 IP. Gave up more than two runs only four times all season. Senior Matt Benninger leads the way as a RHP (35.1 IP, 23 H, 12 BB, 54 K) and third baseman (.460 AVG, 9 SB). Offense hasn’t hit for much power, but has four players with double-digit stolen bases, including senior Kyle Watkins (.385 AVG, 13 SB) and sophomore R.J. Arnold (.429 AVG, 16 SB) atop the order. Four other pitchers have logged double digit innings on a staff that has allowed 99 hits and 48 walks against 133 strikeouts in 118.2 IP.

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11-1 Schuylkill Haven Area (19-3)
Danny BlugisThe Schuylkill League Division 2 champ has only allowed more than three runs in a game four times this spring, while holding opponents to one or less runs thirteen times. Marist-bound Nick Behm (72 IP, 50 H, 5 BB, 108 K) is the staff workhorse, while junior Ethan Conage (46 IP, 29 H, 7 BB, 29 K) has served as the second starter and senior Danny Blugis (13.1 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 13 K) the seldom-needed closer. Franklin & Marshall-bound Blugis (.362 AVG, .554 OBP, 21 BB vs 2 K) and fellow senior Ryan Fink (.386 AVG, 17 SB) lead an offense that has no other regular hitting above .243, but has six players with double-digit walks and a team OBP of .396.

12-2 MaST Community Charter Panthers (16-8)
Despite playing its regular-season among all District I schools in the Bicentennial Athletic League, MaST's location meant it had to earn their way here through the Philadelphia Public League playoffs. Five of their losses came against state tournament participants (3A Holy Ghost Prep & Archbishop Wood, 2A Devon Prep & Neumann-Goretti, 1A Christopher Dock Mennonite). The senior duo of Bryan Kaelin (52 IP, 54 H, 18 BB, 71 K) and Ryan Conner (47 IP, 45 H, 25 BB, 53 K) logged more than two-thirds of the team’s innings. Kaelin (.479 AVG, 13 XBH) leads a young line-up with only two seniors in it, while sophomore Matt Carter (.397 AVG, 11 SB) and freshman Jack Lawson (.373 AVG, .522 OBP) have contributed early in their careers.

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Jack Shirk5-1/6-1 Richland Rams (17-6)
The Rams spoiled the post-season party by knocking off powers Central (2014 state runner-up), Mount Union Area, and Bellwood-Antis on its way to earning this bid. Have won nine of last ten games, with only setback during that time a 1-run loss to 3A Somerset Area. Allowed three or less runs 13 times. Junior Johnny Kutchman authored the shutout in the sub-region title game, while Marist-bound Jack Shirk, who joins Kutchman on the pitching staff along with junior Jake Buchanan, makes the offense go.

Kyle Glouner3-2 Upper Dauphin Area Trojans (14-10)
Seven members of the pitching staff have logged double-digit innings, led by the junior trio of Aaron Cleveland (38 IP, 33 H, 26 BB, 52 K), Kyle Glouner (31.2 IP, 26 H, 10 BB, 30 K), and Drake Lenker (28.2 IP, 24 H, 15 BB, 18 K). An offense led by Kutztown-bound Tanner Miller (.319 AVG, 20 SB) and Glouner (.338 AVG) received a boost on the back end of the schedule when senior Casey Wise (.381 AVG) returned after missing the majority of Tri-Valley Athletic Association play.

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Dylan Cyphert8-1/9-1 Cranberry Area Berries (14-3)
When Pitt-bound Dylan Cyphert (44 IP, 17 H, 12 BB, 93 K; one earned run allowed all year) is on the mound, this team will be in the ballgame. Ultimate success may be determined by how quickly the offense can adjust to facing a higher-caliber of pitching than it is used to during the regular-season. Michael Drzewiecki (.535 AVG, 7 BB vs 2 K), Austin Rex (.404 AVG, 13 SB), Cyphert (.364 AVG, 9 BB vs 3 K) have sparked a line-up that gets some power production from Brendan Zerbe (.373 AVG), and Evan Lutz (.333 AVG).

John Medich7-2 Quaker Valley Quakers (15-5)
The WPIAL Section 1 regular-season co-champ ripped off a ten-game winning streak to start the season. The strike-throwing duo of Akron-bound Tyler Garbee and junior John Medich have led the way on the mound, posting a roughly four-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio between them. The offense has been powered by senior Alex Tanabe and junior Peyton Russoniello, who have both hovered around a .500 batting average and are two among five players who have posted at least nine stolen bases.

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7-1 Neshannock Lancers (16-5)
Richie SerigneseFrankie FraschettiThe WPIAL Section 5 regular-season co-champ blew through the WPIAL playoffs by a combined score of 31-2 in four games (including three shutouts) to capture its third crown in five years. After a 2-3 start to the season, won 14 of last 16 games. The junior tandem of Frankie Fraschetti and Richie Serignese have gotten it done on the mound for a pitching staff that has allowed more than two runs in a game just four times all season. St. Bonaventure-bound Ray Scala has added a spark to the top of the batting order this year after transferring from Laurel for his senior year.

Trenton Creppage6-2 Bellwood-Antis Blue Devils (20-5)
The Inter-County Conference North Division champs can roll out the top pitching prospect in the bracket in Nebraksa-bound Chad Luensmann (73.2 IP, 32 H, 15 BB, 115 K), while also turning to junior Corey Parson (37.2 IP, 27 H, 25 BB, 51 K) as a starter or closer. Luensmann (.488 AVG, .737 SLG) and Mt. Aloysius-bound Trenton Creppage (.437 AVG, 15 BB vs 3 K) power the offense, with assistance from sophomores Sawyer Kline (.382 AVG) and Joey Padula (.315 AVG, .560 OBP, 24 BB & 6 HBP in 25 games).

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10-1 Mercyhurst Prep Lakers (20-2)
The Region 5 co-champs breezed through their schedule, allowing more than three runs just four times. Swept thru district tournament by a combined score of 20-3 in three games. Mercyhurst-bound Chris Vallimont has been a one-man wrecking crew, both at the plate (.417 AVG, 11 XBH) and on the mound (71.1 IP, 39 H, 14 BB, 109 K). Four other line-up regulars are hitting over .300, including sophomore Nick Tyler (.327 AVG, .485 OBP, 8 SB), while the majority of the rest of the innings have gone to junior Fred Gillespie (37.2 IP, 19 H, 11 BB, 35 K) and senior Joe Turano (27.2 IP, 29 H, 3 BB, 10 K), the latter of whom will be unavailable.

7-3 Steel Valley Ironmen (12-6)
Yet another in a string of college-bound arms in this bracket, Radford-bound Brandon Donovan (57 IP, 40 H, 14 BB, 109 K) doesn’t need much run support when he toes the rubber. Just for good measure, however, the Ironmen offense is hitting a combined .353, led by Donovan (.593 AVG, 13 XBH) and freshman Alex Ligeros (.530 AVG), while four other regulars have posted an OBP of .419 or better.

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PBR Staff Predictions
  Williams Gill Leitzel Chimel
Quarterfinalists Camp Hill
Neumann-Goretti
Loyalsock Township
Schuylkill Haven Area
Richland
Cranberry Area
Bellwood-Antis
Steel Valley
Camp Hill
Neumann-Goretti
Loyalsock Township
Schuylkill Haven Area
Richland
Quaker Valley
Neshannock
Steel Valley
Camp Hill
Neumann-Goretti
Loyalsock Township
Schuylkill Haven Area
Richland
Cranberry Area
Neshannock
Mercyhurst Prep
Camp Hill
Neumann-Goretti
Loyalsock Township
MaST
Upper Dauphin Area
Quaker Valley
Neshannock
Mercyhurst Prep
Semifinalists Neumann-Goretti
Loyalsock Township
Richland
Bellwood-Antis
Neumann-Goretti
Loyalsock Township
Richland
Neshannock
Neumann-Goretti
Loyalsock Township
Richland
Mercyhurst Prep
Neumann-Goretti
Loyalsock Township
Upper Dauphin Area
Mercyhurst Prep
Championship Loyalsock Township
over
Bellwood-Antis
Loyalsock Township
over
Neshannock
Loyalsock Township
over
Mercyhurst Prep
Loyalsock Township
over
Mercyhurst Prep

 

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