Three Lackawanna League baseball teams try to take the next step toward a state title in the PIAA quarterfinals.
North Pocono and Valley View are paired in a doubleheader at Easton Area High School. The Trojans meet Lower Dauphin in Class 5A at noon. Then at 4 p.m., the Cougars take on Berks Catholic in Class 4A.
Mid Valley faces Lancaster Catholic in Class 3A at 5:45 p.m. at Pottsville High School.
Here are preview capsules of all three games:
3-3 Lower Dauphin (21-3) vs. 2-1 North Pocono (14-1)
When: Today, noon
Where: Easton Area High School
How they got here: Lower Dauphin beat West Chester Henderson, 7-2, in the first round. North Pocono defeated Wissahickon, 9-1, in the first round.
Players to watch: Lower Dauphin: Senior C Tommy Bramley (.557, 4 HR, 34 RBI); senior 2B Josh Saufley (.452, 15 RBI); junior P Ryan Kutz (.327, 19 RBI; 6-0, 0.79 ERA, 41 K); senior CF Clay Spencer (.380, 14 RBI).
North Pocono: Senior P Cory Wall (.424, 13 RBI; 6-0, 0.96 ERA, 70 K); senior LF Mike Kowalski (.400); junior C Jake Mastillo (.425, 10 RBI); senior 3B-P Nate McLain (.333, 18 RBI; 5-0, 1.19 ERA, 40 K); junior P Ryan Deom (3-1, 0.73 ERA, 29 K)
The buzz: Bramley was named co-Player of the Year in the Mid-Penn Conference Keystone Division. He had two hits and four RBIs, including a three-run home run, in the Falcons’ first-round win over West Chester Henderson. … Saufley, Kutz and Spencer are Mid-Penn Keystone Division first-team all-stars. … Bramley and senior INF Conner Buggy are Mount St. Mary’s University commits. … Lower Dauphin had a 17-game winning streak halted by Ephrata in the District 3 semifinals. … In 2013, the Falcons reached the PIAA Class 4A final and lost to North Penn, 6-5, in nine innings. … Wall (Fordham) and McLain (Iona) are Division I pitchers, while Deom is being recruited by Division I schools. … North Pocono, the Lackawanna League Division II champ, has won 10 games in a row since its lone loss came, 5-4, to Wallenpaupack on April 21. … McLain was 4 for 4 with four RBIs in the Trojans’ first-round win over Wissahickon.
Up next: Winner advances to Monday’s semifinals against the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between District 12 champion Archbishop Carroll and District 3 runner-up Cedar Cliff.
3-1 Berks Catholic (18-3) vs. 2-1 Valley View (14-3)
When: Today, 4 p.m.
Where: Easton Area High School
How they got here: Berks Catholic defeated Nueva Esperanza, 12-2, in six innings in the first round. Valley View downs Lewisburg, 4-2, in the first round.
Players to watch: Berks Catholic: Junior C German Vazquez Marte (.475, 25 RBI); senior SS Tre Dabney (.449, 3 HR, 16 RBI); senior 1B Trevor Leamer (.300, 3 HR, 24 RBI; 7-1, 1.96 ERA, 36 K); sophomore Brendan Long (.327, 21 RBI; 1-0, 3.20 ERA, 2 saves, 12 K); senior P David Jones (3-1, 4.45 ERA, 11 K).
Valley View: Sophomore SS Dixon Black (.456, 19 RBI); senior DH Rob Sebastianelli (.348, 12 RBI); sophomore 3B Alex Savkov (.317, 8 RBI); senior P Mason Black (6-0, 0.33 ERA, 56 K); senior CF Corey Pezak (.400, 6 RBI).
The buzz: Berks Catholic coach Tom Frees, the only coach in program history since the school came into existence seven years ago with the merger of Reading Central Catholic and Reading Holy Name, announced his retirement after this season. His record is 102-45. … First-round win over Nueva Esperanza was the first PIAA tournament win in program’s history. … Leamer pitched a complete game in that victory, so Saints are likely to start either Long or Jones. … Leamer is headed to Mount St. Mary University, while Dabney is a James Madison University commit. … Mason Black, a Lehigh University commit, has allowed just four runs (two earned) in 43 innings this season. All four runs came in the District 2 semifinal against Berwick. In the District 2 final against defending state champion Dallas, he threw a four-hit shutout with one walk and eight strikeouts in a 1-0 win. … Valley View won its first District 2 title since 2000. … That year, the Cougars advanced to the state Class 2A semifinals before losing to Greencastle-Antrim. … These two schools met in the second round of the PIAA Class 4A basketball playoffs with Berks Catholic winning, 56-36. … Berks Catholic is the first school in Berks County history to win District 3 championships in football, basketball and baseball in the same school year.
Up next: Winner advances to Monday’s semifinals against the winner of the quarterfinal game between District 11 champion Northwestern Lehigh and District 3 No. 3 seed West Perry.
3-1 Lancaster Catholic (17-5) vs. 2-2 Mid Valley (14-4)
When: Today, 5:45 p.m.
Where: Pottsville High School
How they got here: Lancaster Catholic beat String Theory in four innings, 16-1, in the first round. Mid Valley topped North Schuylkill, 2-1, in the first round.
Players to watch: Lancaster Catholic: Senior LHP-1B Dillon Marsh (.375, 6 HR, 17 RBI; 6-1, 0.71 ERA, 97 K); sophomore C Bryce Behmer (.379, 15 RBI); junior INF Cam Barto (.339, 12 RBI); junior P-RF Nick Breznak (.291, 10 RBI; 7-0, 0.50 ERA, 70 K).
Mid Valley: Junior 1B Brendan Kucharski (.340, 9 HR, 26 RBI); senior RF Mario Bonacci (.364, 11 RBI); sophomore 2B Giovanni Lopez (.311, 11 RBI); junior P Justin Gohsler (6-1, 1.85 ERA, 69 K); senior P Anthony Colvin (3-0, 1.63 ERA, 39 K); junior P Mark Longo (5-3, 1.70 ERA, 22 K).
The buzz: Lancaster Catholic has won eight of its last 10 games. … This is the second year in a row the Crusaders have reached the PIAA quarterfinals. They are seeking the first trip to the semifinals in school history. … Marsh is a University of Kentucky commit. He threw a three-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in a 7-0 win over Oley Valley in the District 3 championship game. He is expected to start today. … Barto and Breznak each were 3 for 3 with two RBIs in the first-round win over String Theory. … Mid Valley is making its first state playoff appearance since 1985. … This season, each of Mid Valley’s four losses were by one run — three to District 2 champion Lakeland. … Nine of Kucharski’s 16 hits this season have been home runs. … The Spartans have won 10 of their last 12.
Up next: Winner advances to Monday’s semifinals against the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between District 4 champion Montoursville and District 2 runner-up Oley Valley.
— SCOTT WALSH