The Penn-Trafford and Franklin Regional baseball teams have never won a PIAA title. One of them is hoping to break through this year.

The PIAA Class 5A playoffs begin Monday, and both are looking for the same prize.

The Warriors, who won their first WPIAL title by defeating Bethel Park on Tuesday, and the Panthers, who rallied to defeat West Allegheny on Wednesday in the consolation game, begin play against two out-of-district opponents.

Penn-Trafford (20-3) will face District 3 fifth-place representative Lower Dauphin (17-9) at 4:30 p.m. at Plum, and Franklin Regional (16-8) travels to District 6 champion Hollidaysburg (14-6) at 4 p.m.

Lower Dauphin has reached the state finals twice and lost both: to North Penn in the 4A championship in 2013 and to Marple Newtown in the 5A title game in 2019.

This is Lower Dauphin’s ninth appearance in the state tournament, and the Falcons are 10-8.

Penn-Trafford recorded its first PIAA win when it defeated Central Mountain, 8-5, in the opening round last year. The Warriors then dropped a 5-1 decision to eventual PIAA champion Shaler, 5-1.

This is the fourth appearance for Penn-Trafford in the state tournament. The Warriors also qualified in 1999 and 2019.

"Our goals this season were to win the section and qualify for the WPIAL playoffs,” Penn-Trafford coach Lou Cortazzo said. "Then it was to win a WPIAL title and qualify for the PIAA tournament. Now it’s go further than we did last year and, hopefully, win a PIAA title.

"The players reminded me after we defeated Bethel Park that we won a trophy. Now we’d like a bigger one.”

Penn-Trafford can’t take Lower Dauphin lightly. Last year, the Falcons were big underdogs and shocked the No. 1-ranked team in the state.

"These guys are focused,” Cortazzo said. "The day after we defeated Bethel Park, I gave them the day off. They wanted to practice. They’re ready to go.”

Penn-Trafford used a four-run fourth inning to erase an early 2-0 deficit against Bethel Park. Ian Temple’s two-run triple and Carmen Metcalfe’s squeeze bunt single gave the Warriors a 3-2 lead. Brayden Stone then added an RBI double to give them a 4-2 lead.

Pitchers Brandon Roher, Dom Delio and Hunter Brown combined on the win.

"Getting this win was awesome,” Temple said. "But we’re not done. We still have states.”

Hunter Strohm heads a strong senior class that spearheads the preseason favorite in District 3.

Franklin Regional, meanwhile, rode the right-arm of Max Bernadowski and the timely hitting of Luke Williams to a win against West Allegheny.

Williams’ hit, a two-run double, came in the top of the seventh inning.

"We didn’t quit battling,” Bernadowski said. "Chase (Lemke), Cole (Brinker) and Luke came up with clutch hits. Now our eyes are on the state tournament.”

Franklin Regional is making its sixth appearance in the PIAA tournament. Its most recent win came in 2019 against Erie Cathedral Prep, 13-4. The Panthers are 3-5, and their previous appearance was in 2021, a 6-4 loss to West Allegheny.

Hollidaysburg has made the state playoffs twice, losing to North Allegheny, 9-0, in 2009, and to West York, 10-0, in 2012.

The player the Panthers must contend with is pitcher Carson Kensinger, who is 8-0 with a 1.06 ERA. He also batted .397 with 25 hits, 26 RBIs, 21 runs scored, eight doubles and six home runs.

Another key hitter is Jake Hileman, who is hitting .486 with 34 hits, 19 RBIs, 28 runs scored, eight doubles and four triples.

"We ready to go and we win a state championship now,” Williams said. "That’s the goal.”

Franklin Regional coach Bob Saddler said he feels his team can compete with anyone in the state.

"Our pitching has been strong all season,” Saddler said. "We have to approach this game like we did West Allegheny. I felt we were strong in all aspects of the game.”

If Penn-Trafford and Franklin Regional win, they will meet for a fourth time this season.

The Panthers won both regular-season games, and the Warriors won in the WPIAL semifinals.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at

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