Monday's Westmoreland Sports Notebook

FR baseball, GL softball off to torrid starts; Kiski Area wins first Penguins Cup; Purdue passes away at age 19

Mon Mar 27, 2023 - 8:53AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers

Last Updated: Mon Mar 27, 2023 - 2:16AM

FR baseball, GL softball off to torrid starts

While the WPIAL baseball and softball seasons are less than two weeks old, a pair of Westmoreland County teams have posted 4-0 starts. Franklin Regional baseball has won all of its games in lopsided fashion, including three victories to open the season in Florida. In the Sunshine State, the Panthers ousted Saint Louis Priory School 17-7, Westminster Christian Academy 9-1, and fellow WPIAL team North Catholic 13-7. Their impressive play continued back in Western Pennsylvania, as the Panthers won on the road against Shaler Area 9-3 on Friday. FR opens its Class 5A Section 1 ledger this week against Penn Hills. On the softball side, Greater Latrobe has been equally impressive, as the host Wildcats edged Norwin 9-8 to open the season, and followed with road wins against Pine-Richland (10-3), Mount Pleasant Area (9-1) and Belle Vernon Area (8-3). The Wildcats have another road test at Connellsville Area on Wednesday before opening Class 5A Section 2 play next week.

Kiski Area wins first PIHL Championship

Kiski Area captured its first PIHL Penguins Cup Championship last Monday, as the Cavaliers defeated Fox Chapel Area 4-1 in the Class A title game at the UPMC Lemieux Complex in Cranberry. Captain Ethan George netted two goals, including the game winner. Additionally, Cavaliers goaltender Evin Brice made 34 saves, limiting the top offensive team in the classification. Kiski Area jumped out to a lead less than four minutes in, as Liam Alexander carried the puck into the offensive zone for KA, and he dished to Justin Gross in the low slot, who pushed the puck past Foxes goalie Joe Rattner to stake the Cavs to the early edge. George extended the lead midway through the first period, as his wrister sailed past Rattner and underneath the crossbar to make it 2-0 Kiski Area. Early in the second period, George gave the Cavaliers a 3-0 edge. The Cavaliers closed out the championship victory on an empty net goal by defenseman Ethan Bombalski, who sent the puck from near his own net into the vacated Foxes’ net with 1:32 left in the third. Kiski Area came up short in its pursuit of state gold on Saturday, however, as the Cavaliers were overmatched in an 8-1 defeat to West Chester East in the Class A Pennsylvania Cup at the Robert Morris Island Sports Complex on Neville Island. West Chester East led 1-0 after the first period, but took command by outscoring the Cavaliers 4-1 in the middle period. George tallied the only marker for Kiski Area. Danny Tirendi notched two goals and a helper for the Vikings, while Anthony LoGiurato scored twice.

Joe Purdue, former Franklin Regional football player, dies at 19

Former Franklin Regional football player Joe Purdue passed away last Thursday at the age of 19. Purdue was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly following his high school graduation in the summer of 2022. He died at home, surrounded by family. Purdue played center and linebacker for the Panthers. His family is asking that memorial contributions be made to the Storm the Heavens fund.

Kelly, Heinbaugh earn volleyball honors

A pair of Westmoreland County volleyball players were recognized for their stellar play recently, as Hempfield Area’s Owen Kelly and Penn-Trafford’s Brad Heinbaugh were among four selected as the Class 3A Players of the Week. Last Monday, they were honored by the Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association. Kelly, a senior, and Heinbaugh, a junior, are both outside hitters. Additionally, in the team rankings in Class 3A, Penn-Trafford ascended one spot to third, while Norwin and Hempfield Area remained at fifth and eighth, respectively. Meanwhile in Class 2A, Greater Latrobe held steady at the second spot, while Derry Area moved up one spot to seventh.

SHU baseball sweeps PSAC-opening series

The Seton Hill University baseball team started its conference ledger on a high note, as the Griffins swept a four-game series against California University of Pennsylvania between Saturday and Sunday. Commencing Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West play, Seton Hill prevailed 12-4 and 5-4 at home, and followed with wins of 13-6 and 4-0 on the road. In the first victory, Aidan Shephard and Braden Dunham each contributed three RBIs, while Kevin Vaupel went the distance on the mound. The second triumph at home came via walkoff, as the Griffins scored the final four runs of the contest, including the game-winning single by Owen Sabol to plate Vinny Rauso. Drew Garth and Jack Oberdorf, meanwhile, each posted two RBIs. In the first W on Sunday, Sabol went 4-5 with seven runs batted in, including a grand slam. In the shutout victory, Brandon Bergert worked six scoreless innings, striking out nine, while Max Mandler contributed two RBIs. Seton Hill improved to 15-7 overall.