The game: WPIAL Class 3A championship
The teams: Riverside vs. Mount Pleasant
Where and when: Wild Things Park, Tuesday, 2:30 p.m.
Probable starting pitchers: Christian Cicchinelli for Riverside; Jason Beranek for Mt. Pleasant
Section finish: Section 2 champion
WPIAL championships: 4 (1996, 2006, 2011, 2016)
Last championship appearance: 2016
Coach: Dan Oliastro
How they got here: (First round) Bye; (Quarterfinals) Burrell, 4-0; (Semifinals) Brownsville, 5-4.
What you should know: Riverside, with more PIAA titles than any other team, has only trailed three times this season and enters the game on a 16-game winning streak. Twice the Panthers have come from behind with the second one being in the semi-finals after falling behind Brownsville 4-0 in the first inning. In the previous 17 games, Riverside had allowed only 35 runs despite the fact that Adam Jeannette, the most experience starting pitcher entering the season, has been limited by injuries. Cristian Cicchinelli has ably stepped into the number one spot, striking out 11 in 6 1/3 innings against Burrell in the playoff opener. Under Dan Oliastro, the coach since 1969, the Panthers emphasize defense and have scored more than enough, scoring seven or more in nine of the 18 games.
Player to watch: Senior shortstop Dylan Speicher had the game-winning hit against Brownsville and is the defensive leader on a team keyed by the defense.
Mount Pleasant Vikings
Section finish: Section 3 co-champion
WPIAL championships: 1 (1970)
Last championship appearance: 1989
Coach: Chris Firmstone
How they got here: (First round) Bye; (Quarterfinals) Shady Side Academy, 10-6; (Semifinals) Ellwood City, 2-1.
What you should know: The Vikings defeated two recent champions to get to the championship and now face the defending champion. Mount Pleasant took advantage of an Ellwood City error to score two unearned runs and enter the game on an 8-game winning streak. In that streak, the Vikings have scored in double digits four times including a 13-12 slugfest against Seton-LaSalle. Three times in the streak, Mount Pleasant has held opponents to one run – the Vikings have definitely done whatever it takes to get this far. Senior Branden McCormick allowed just two hits to Ellwood City and will be available if needed but is expected to play first while Jason Beranek moves from shortstop to the mound.
Player to watch: Senior pitcher Jason Beranek will take the hill for the championship game after having the game winning hit in the semifinal win over Ellwood City.