Quad-A Baseball Preview
As we await warmer days ahead this spring, late March is a terrific time to take a sneak peak at what’s to come this season in Quad-A baseball in 2014.
The North Allegheny Tigers are the defending WPIAL champions and boast three-year starting OF/P Mitch Machi. The University of Buffalo recruit has put together an 11-2 record and 2.04 ERA in 17 appearances over the last two seasons. One of NA’s biggest challengers in the WPIAL comes from the same section, the Seneca Valley Raiders. The Raiders had won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012 before being dethroned by the Tigers last year. Despite losing several key starters from last season’s playoff team, Seneca Valley will ride the pitching arm of Virginia Tech recruit Connor Coward.
The Hempfield Spartans won the Section 2 crown last season with a 10-2 record and finished with an impressive mark of 20-5. One of the Spartans top position players, Joey DiFloria, has signed to play college football at Bucknell, but the speedy centerfielder is also drawing the interest of some pro baseball scouts. An All-Foothills Conference selection at running back, DiFloria hopes to provide run support for pitchers Tyler Tubbs and Marc Demilio. Penn-Trafford, Norwin, and Latrobe will be stiff competition for Hempfield. Norwin possesses versatile infielder, and Arizona recruit, J.J. Matijevic.
Central Catholic and Franklin Regional are the early frontrunners in Section 3. Luca Farina is a William & Mary recruit and all-state selection from a year ago for the defending section champion Vikings. The Panthers boast WVU recruit Brandon Nania, a three-year clean-up hitter who smacked four home runs and 24 RBI’s last season, to go along with a .390 batting average. Nania is a catcher but has seen time at the corner infield positions in the past, making him a valuable asset for Franklin Regional. Plum could be in the mix in Section 3. Alex Kiriloff, who had a breakout freshman season last year, should be a stud in the middle of the lineup for the Mustangs. Kiriloff led the Mustangs at the plate with 19 RBI’s and also had the lowest ERA on the pitching staff at 1.50.
Following a 17-6 campaign last season, the Pine-Richland Rams might be ready to make another run at a WPIAL championship. The Rams last title was in 2010 and PR shortstop Daane Berezo will hope to follow in his older brother’s footsteps this season. Matt Berezo, now an infielder at Duke University, was a key contributor toward the Rams championship four years ago. Amongst the top challengers to Pine-Richland will be Shaler and Woodland Hills. Third baseman Alec McElroy and junior pitcher Jake Potock will bolster the Titans. Sophomore pitcher Jake Jessel will be an important arm for the Wolverines this season.
This section has a bevy of quality pitchers and the Peters Township Indians return seven of them. Six years removed from winning back-to-back Quad-A titles, the Indians join Bethel Park, Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon and Canon-McMillan in what could be a wide-open section. Mt. Lebanon is led by strong-armed senior pitcher Zack Bahm who has already committed to Columbia. The Big Macs are the reigning Section 5 champs.