'Speaks volumes': Bishop McCort Catholic finds different ways to win, takes on unbeaten Faith Christian Academy in PIAA 1A semifinal

This postseason, the Bishop McCort Catholic baseball team has displayed the ability to win various kinds of games.

Winners of seven straight contests, the Crimson Crushers won high-scoring affairs in comeback fashion against Bishop Carroll Catholic (11-7) and Southern Fulton (9-8). Bishop McCort also defeated Claysburg-Kimmel 2-0 and DuBois Central Catholic 3-1 in pitching and defense-centric battles.

The program’s affinity to win in diversified ways has led to the Crimson Crushers advancing to the PIAA semifinals for the sixth time in 12 seasons.

At 4 p.m. Monday, District 6 Class 1A champion Bishop McCort (17-8) takes on District 1 winner Faith Christian Academy (21-0) at Greene Township Park in Scotland.

“I think finding different ways to win speaks volumes of our kids,” Bishop McCort coach Chris Pfeil said. “They showed a tremendous amount of resiliency through the postseason when they were faced with adversity. That’s a large part of the reason why we’re still playing.”

Ironically, the same two schools met in the PIAA Class 2A team wrestling championship match this year. The Lions prevailed 46-18.

Monday’s winner takes on Eden Christian Academy or Saegertown at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Penn State in the championship game.

The Crimson Crushers beat DuBois Central Catholic 3-1 and Southern Fulton 9-8 in their first two PIAA victories. Bishop McCort trailed Southern Fulton 8-5, but tallied two runs in the each of the sixth and seventh innings to prevail. Senior Mason Pfeil provided a walk-off RBI single.

Seniors Brock Beppler, Mason Pfeil, Mike Preuss, Mike Staib and Cooper Stigers have helped steer the ship as Bishop McCort has advanced to the state semifinals once again.

“I think our seniors have a great job all year, but especially during the postseason of keeping the younger players’ nerves calmed down and get them focused on playing,” Chris Pfeil said. “I think at this point, everybody has playoff experience. Even our younger kids, this will be our sixth postseason game this year. I think some of those nerves and settling in, I think we’re there.”

Bishop McCort, which has outscored opponents 185-129, won the 2012 PIAA title and finished as runners-up in 2016 and 2017.

Right-hander Mason Pfeil is expected to start for the Crimson Crushers. The Mansfield signee is 9-3 with a 2.28 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 671/3 innings. Junior right-hander Lucas Turner has two saves, a 3.72 ERA and 32 punchouts in 261/3 innings.

Mason Pfeil leads the offense with a .394 average, seven doubles, 27 runs and 26 RBIs.

Junior Adam Radkowski has a .380 average with 19 RBIs.

Sophomore Jonathan Delia is batting .364 with 22 runs, 26 RBIs, six doubles, two triples and a home run. Beppler, a Clarion football signee, is hitting .321 with 32 runs, 13 RBIs, 10 doubles and a home run.

Faith Christian Academy, out of Sellersville, has outscored its opponents by a whopping 257-24 margin. The Lions have won 15 games by 10 or more runs. Their closest game was a 1-0 victory over Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in PIAA first round. Senior right-hander Grayson Weikel, who will play baseball at NCAA Division II Cedarville in Ohio, struck out five batters over six hitless innings. Junior right-hander Reid Miller finished off the combined no-hitter.

Making its first PIAA appearance since 2019, Faith Christian Academy beat Mining and Mechanical Institute Preparatory School 11-0 in six innings during its PIAA quarterfinal.

Weikel went 4-for-4 with a home run and six RBIs. He has 10 home runs this season.

Senior Kendri Beltre doubled among his two hits and finished with three runs and two RBIs. Miller went six innings, allowing three singles and three walks while striking out nine.

“Certainly when a team is undefeated at this point of the season, they have a special group of kids, too,” Chris Pfeil said of Faith Christian Academy. “Their statistics are impressive, but it’s a one-game playoff.

“We just got to go out there and do what we do best. We’ll compete and we’ll see where the cards fall.”

Bishop McCort has played a rigorous schedule within the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference. The Crimson Crushers have faced college-bound pitchers such as Ethan Janidlo (Richland, Seton Hill) and Nate Whysong (Chestnut Ridge, Wake Forest). Bishop McCort has played District 5 champ Conemaugh Township Area and District 6 champions Bellefonte and Central Cambria. It also competed against District 5-8-9 runner-up Somerset and District 6 No. 2 seeds Bishop Carroll Catholic and Central.

“There is no doubt that our Laurel Highlands schedule has prepared us for the postseason run,” Chris Pfeil said.

“We’ve seen good teams and good arms all throughout the season.”

Jake Oswalt is a copy editor for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @TheWizOfOz11.