WVC’s largest and smallest schools seek baseball glory

Last updated: June 01. 2014 11:37PM - 1652 Views
By - dlevarse@civitasmedia.com

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Hazleton Area

vs. Hempfield

4:30 p.m. today

at King’s College, Betzler Complex




District 2 champions

Coach: Gino Cara

Record: 16-5 (11-4 WVC)

Possible lineup

Player`Playoff Avg.

1. Dave Klein, rf`.375

2. Joe Baran, cf`.250

3. Dante Biasi, lf`.333

4. Robbie John, c`.200

5. Sal Biasi, 2b`.500

6. Chris Panzarella, ss`.111

7. Kyle Rogers, dh`.400

8. Tommy Sharp, 1b`.143

9. Mitch O’Donnell, 3b`.400

Tony Hernandez, p

2014 schedule

Regular season

at Easton`W, 12-0

at Valley West`W, 13-2

at Coughin`W, 8-7

Berwick`W, 6-0

Pittston Area`L, 6-4

Wyoming Area`W, 11-7

Crestwood`W, 3-1

at Dallas`W, 10-4

Parkland`W, 8-7

at Tunkhannock`W, 4-2

at Beth. Catholic`W, 6-2

Valley West`L, 4-3

at Crestwood`W, 12-2

at Berwick`L, 4-2

at Lake-Lehman`W, 8-0

at Pittston Area`W, 12-2

at West Scranton`L, 4-3

Coughlin`L, 10-9

WVC Division 1 tiebreaker

vs. Berwick`W, 12-2

District 2-4 tournament

Williamsport`W, 3-1

vs. Delaware Valley`W, 3-0



District 3 runner-up

Coach: Jeremy Morrison

Record: 17-10

Possible lineup


1. Chase Gilbert, 1b

2. Grant Oberholtzer, cf

3. Derek Manning, rf

4. Mike Hernandez, 3b

5. Jon Beck, c

6. Tim Gailor, ss

7. Jon Peterson, lf

8. Greg Gambler, dh

9. Ben Lukawski, 2b

Alec Miller, p

District 3 tournament

at Reading`W, 7-3

vs. Governor Mifflin`W, 5-3

vs. Red Land`W, 3-0

vs. Cedar Cliff`L, 11-5


MMI Prep

vs. Canton

4:30 p.m. today

at Mountain Post Legion, Rice Twp.




District 2 champions

Coach: Emmett Thomas

Record: 13-7 (6-6 WVC)

Possible lineup

Player`Playoff Avg.

1. Jared Dasher, cf`.273

2. Cory Rogers, ss`.455

3. Charlie Karchner, p`.750

4. Alec Andes, 1b`.200

5. Sam Harman, c`.500

6. Ed Herbener, rf`.167

7. Kisan Patel, lf`.125

8. Nick Young, 2b`.250

9. R.J. Kupsho, 3b`.444

2014 schedule

Regular season

Meyers`W, 6-3

at Nanticoke`L, 11-0

Weatherly (DH)`W, 6-1

Weatherly (DH)`W, 2-1

at Hanover Area`L, 5-1

at Wyo. Seminary`W, 2-0

at Northwest`L, 7-1

at Meyers`L, 13-8

Nanticoke`L, 5-2

at Marian Catholic`L, 11-3

at Lincoln L.A.`W, 14-4

Hanover Area`L, 11-0

Northwest`W, 4-1

Wyo. Seminary`W, 14-0

at GAR`W, 10-4

at C-M Vo-Tech`W,14-4

GAR`W, 8-2

District 2 tournament

Wyo. Seminary`W, 9-1

at Old Forge`W, 4-1

vs. Blue Ridge`W, 6-5



District 4 champions

Coach: Bob Rockwell

Record: 20-2

Possible lineup

Player`Playoff Avg.

1. Chase Pepper, p

2. Trevor Route, 2b

3. Garrett Wesneski, ss

4. Kyle Landis, lf

5. Conner Route, 1b

6. Tanner Machmer, 3b

7. Tyler Cole, rf

8. Mason Martell, dh

9. Travis Butcher, c

John Bowman, cf

District 4 tournament

vs. Montgomery`W, 10-0

vs. St. John Neumann`W, 4-1

In the end, two Wyoming Valley Conference baseball teams were left standing — the largest school in the district and the smallest school in the district.

Despite being just seven miles apart, Hazleton Area and MMI Prep may not have much in common. But both teams earned a plaque and gold medals on Memorial Day after winning District 2 titles, and that puts them on the same big stage for today’s opening round of the PIAA tournament.

The Cougars (male enrollment: 1,449) shut out Delaware Valley in the Class 4A championship and the Preppers (male enrollment: 60) staged a late rally to beat Blue Ridge in the Class A finals.

It was Hazleton Area’s first district title since 2005 — the same year MMI began play in the WVC.

Both squads get to stay in Luzerne County for today’s opener as Hazleton Area plays District 3 runner-up Hempfield at King’s College’s Betzler Complex while MMI Prep faces District 4 champ Canton at the Mountain Post Legion field.

First pitch for both games is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.


Hazleton Area vs. Hempfield

The Cougars, in all honesty, would have been disappointed had they not reached this point. Armed with some Division I recruits and arguably the deepest pitching staff in the district, Hazleton Area has a chance to do some damage in the state bracket.

“Yeah, this really was the expectation,” Hazleton Area coach Gino Cara said after winning the D2 crown. “Now? Let’s see where we go.”

Now a full week removed from a 3-0 win in the district finals, Cara has the luxury of picking between four standout pitchers to start today’s contest.

There’s senior Tony Hernandez, who pitched five strong innings to beat Williamsport in the semifinals. Junior Joe Baran, a Boston College recruit, threw the final two innings for the save in that game.

Of course there’s Penn State-bound senior Sal Biasi, who boasts a fastball with top-end velocity and is one of the area’s best all-around athletes.

Those three may have the seniority, but the Cougars trust sophomore Dante Biasi as much as any of them, as evidenced by his Memorial Day gem in the D2 finals, holding Delaware Valley to four hits and no runs in six-plus innings. The younger Biasi has 11 strikeouts in 11 postseason innings, including a victory over Berwick in the WVC Division 1 tiebreaker.

Sal Biasi is hitting .500 in three postseason games, while Dante has a team-best four RBI in that stretch, including a home run in the semifinals.

The Cougars are also solid defensively and have the advantage of a catcher like Robbie John, who threw out two runners on the basepaths in the district finals. It’s one thing to have a standout pitching staff, and another to have a catcher that can effectively work with all of them.

“He’s done a great job for us,” Cara said. “He handles our pitchers extremely well. Calls a great game. Not much, if anything, gets by him. He blocks the ball incredibly well.”

Today’s opponent, Hempfield, made an impressive run as the 16th and final seed in the District 3 tournament, upsetting three teams in the bracket before falling in the title game to Cedar Cliff.

Despite how it sounds, a 16-seed from District 3 is hardly a weakling — the D3 bracket is culled from 36 Class 4A teams across several counties. District 2, by comparison, has five 4A teams with D4’s Williamsport joining the bracket for the playoffs.

Hazleton Area’s last state tournament game was also at King’s but lasted just five innings — a 13-0 loss to West Chester East out of District 1 in June 2005.


MMI Prep vs. Canton

Just about anything seems possible for the Preppers right now. If a two-run sacrifice fly isn’t a sign of an unpredictable postseason, then nothing is.

That’s how MMI battled back from a three-run deficit in the district finals as Charlie Karchner scored from second on an Alec Andes fly-out to center. He joined Cory Rogers, who had tagged up from third ahead of him. That play tied the game and Ed Herbener’s ensuing RBI single gave the Preppers their first district crown.

All in all, it’s been a remarkable journey for MMI, which won just two WVC games total in their first four seasons in the league.

“This team can play and believe,” MMI coach Emmett Thomas said after the 6-5 win in the D2 finals. “There are 14 kids on this team that are good players. They worked hard at practice every day, and they believed in themselves.”

Today will be the program’s stiffest test of the playoffs. D4 champ Canton has lost just twice all year and has designs on repeating its deep run from 2013.

Before last season, Canton had never won a PIAA tournament game in baseball. That didn’t stop the Warriors from going all the way to the state championship before falling to Johnsonburg in the finals. They even knocked off Old Forge in the semifinals along the way.

The District 4 champ has done well in the state bracket in recent years, reaching the semifinals in each of the last three seasons, including a trip to the title game in the last two.



All teams are listed by (district-seed)



Monday, June 2

• Methacton (1-1) vs. George Washington (12-2), 4 p.m., Neumann University, Aston

• Parkland (11-1) vs. Spring-Ford (1-4), 4 p.m., Easton Area H.S., Easton

• La Salle College (12-1) vs. Boyertown (1-2), 4 p.m., Ashburn Field, Philadelphia

• Hazleton Area (2-1) vs. Hempfield (3-2), 4:30 p.m., King’s College, Wilkes-Barre Twp.

• Cedar Cliff (3-1) vs. Conestoga (1-3), 4 p.m., Northern York H.S., Dillsburg

• State College (6-1) vs. Red Land (3-3), 4 p.m., Penn State Altoona, Altoona

• Seneca Valley (7-1) vs. Moon (7-3), 2 p.m., Pullman Park, Butler

• DuBois (9-1) vs. Baldwin (7-2), 2:30 p.m., Brockway H.S., Brockway


Thursday, June 5

• First-round winners at neutral sites


Monday, June 9

• Quarterfinal winners at neutral sites


Friday, June 13

• Semifinal winners at Medlar Field, State College, 1 p.m.




Monday, June 2

• Pope John Paul II (1-1) vs. West Perry (3-2), 4 p.m., Immaculata University, Immaculata

• Archbishop Wood (12-1) vs. Northeastern (3-3), 4 p.m., La Salle College H.S., Wyndmoor

• Tamaqua (11-1) vs. Franklin Towne (12-2), 4 p.m., Walter Stump Stadium, Pine Grove

• Jersey Shore (4-1) vs. Abington Heights (2-1), 6:30 p.m., Bowman Field, Williamsport

• Northern York (3-1) vs. Harriton (1-2), 4 p.m., Wenger Field, Fredericksburg

• Somerset (5-1) vs. Blackhawk (7-2), 3 p.m., PNG Field, Altoona

• West Allegheny (7-1) vs. Punxsutawney (9-1), 4:30 p.m., Pullman Park, Butler

• Cathedral Prep (10-1) vs. West Mifflin (7-3), 6 p.m., Jerry Uht Stadium, Erie


Thursday, June 5

• First-round winners at neutral sites


Monday, June 9

• Quarterfinal winners at neutral sites


Friday, June 13

• Semifinal winners at Medlar Field, State College, 6 p.m.




• Neumann-Goretti (12-1) vs. Berks Catholic (3-1), 1 p.m., La Salle College H.S., Wyndmoor

• Lakeland (2-1) vs. Bloomsburg (4-2), 4:30 p.m., Marywood University, Scranton

• Notre Dame-Green Pond (11-1) vs. Springfield Township (1-1), 4 p.m., Parkland H.S., Allentown

• Loyalsock Township (4-1) vs. Bald Eagle Area (6-2), 4 p.m., Bowman Field, Williamsport

• Steel Valley (7-1) vs. Bedford (5-1), 3 p.m., Fox Chapel H.S., Pittsburgh

• Karns City (9-1) vs. Northwestern (10-2), 5 p.m., Clarion-Limestone H.S., Strattanville

• Franklin (10-1) vs. Seton LaSalle (7-2), 3:30 p.m., Jerry Uht Stadium, Erie

• Central (6-1) vs. Quaker Valley (7-3), 6 p.m., PNG Field, Altoona


Thursday, June 5

• First-round winners at neutral sites


Monday, June 9

• Quarterfinal winners at neutral sites


Friday, June 13

• Semifinal winners at Medlar Field, State College, 10:30 a.m.




Monday, June 2

• Devon Prep (1-1) vs. York Catholic (3-2), 4 p.m., Cairn University, Langhorne

• MMI Prep (2-1) vs. Canton (4-1), 4:30 p.m., Mountain Post Legion, Rice Twp.

• Jules Masterman (12-1) vs. Schuylkill Haven (11-1), 1 p.m., Ashburn Field, Philadelphia

• Lancaster County Christian (3-1) vs. Juniata Valley (6-2), 4 p.m., War Memorial Stadium, Ephrata

• California (7-1) vs. Cranberry (9-2), 3 p.m., Burkett Complex, Robinson Twp.

• Bishop McCort (6-1) vs. Eisenhower (10-1), 4 p.m., Hollidaysburg Area H.S., Hollidaysburg

• Southern Fulton (5-1) vs. Carmichaels (7-2), 4:30 p.m., Somerset Area H.S., Somerset

• Elk County Catholic (9-1) vs. Sewickely Academy (7-3), 4:30 p.m., Brockway H.S., Brockway


Thursday, June 5

• First-round winners at neutral winners


Monday, June 9

• Quarterfinal winners at neutral winners


Friday, June 13

• Semifinal winners at Medlar Field, State College, 3:30 p.m.

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