PIAA Baseball: Red Land-Conestoga Quarterfinals Preview Capsule
Jake Adams, The Sentinel
PIAA Class AAAA Baseball Preview Capsule
1-3 Conestoga vs. 3-3 Red Land
Site: Muhlenberg High School
Time: 4 p.m.
Coaches: Conestoga — John Vogan. Red Land — Nate Ebbert (5th season, 77-36).
How they got here: Both teams took similar routes here, as the District 3 12th-seeded Patriots were topped by Hempfield in the semifinals before beating Exeter Township in the third-place game. They bulldozed Commonwealth foe State College, 10-2, Monday in the first round. Conestoga was upended by eventual District 1 champion Methacton in the semis as well, beating Spring-Ford in the third-place game. They beat another Commonwealth club, Cedar Cliff, 3-2, Monday.
What’s next: The winner takes on either District 7 champion Seneca Valley or District 9 champ DuBois Monday at a site and time to be determined. Both beat other District 7 representatives in the first round.
Key players: Conestoga — Jake Bufo (Sr., P, 6-0, 0.33 ERA, 48 SO); Austin Shirley (CF); Ryan Ogren (2B); Tom Richter (SS). Red Land — Zach Newmyer (Sr., P/1B, .352 BA, 11 RBIs, 12 XBHs); Jeremy Hileman (Sr., P, 8-3, 1.37 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 75 SO); Ben Snyder (Sr., C, .388 BA, 20 runs, 11 RBIs, 10 XBHs); Eric Dressler (Jr., OF, .333 BA, 8 runs, 10 RBIs); Dalton Clouser (Jr., SS, .261 Bam 13 runs, 13 RBIs).
Breakdown: Shirley, Ogren and Richter all came into the state tournament batting over .400, meaning Hileman will have his hands full. The righthander is battle-tested, having lost just three games in a loaded Mid-Penn Commonwealth. The Pioneers are three years removed from their state title, but neither team was in the big dance last season. The good news for the Patriots is that Bufo won’t be available, after going the distance Monday against the Colts. But whoever takes the hill will pose problems for the likes of Newmyer – who has three round-trippers – and Snyder, to name a few. The quicker Newmyer settles in, the better. Red Land may not have the type of bats the Pioneers do, but they’ve gotten some timely hitting throughout the postseason and just need things to stay close to have a chance. And they should, considering they’ve given up just two total runs in Hileman’s two postseason starts.