Hempfield ends Norwin's 35-game regular-season winning streak
Hempfield worked feverishly to get its baseball field playable so it could host Norwin, but to no avail.
Instead the Knights offered to move the game to their home field for the Section 2-AAAA opener for both teams.
In retrospect, it was a move Norwin has to regret.
Hempfield junior Joey DeFloria went 3 for 3 with four RBI, including a three-run opposite field homer that capped a five-run second inning, to help the Spartans to a 10-0, five-inning victory over Norwin (0-1, 0-1). The loss ended the Knights' WPIAL-best 35-game regular-season winning streak.
“It's a bit of a slap in the face, and hopefully it's a wake-up call for these guys that we've got a long way to go to get back to what we're used to,” Norwin coach Mike Liebdzinski said. “It's been a long time since we were 10-runned around here.”
It was the first regular-season loss for Norwin since an 11-6 defeat at Franklin Regional on May 4, 2010, and the first home setback since a 9-8 loss to Penn Hills on April 4, 2010.
It was the first time they have been a victim of the 10-run mercy rule since a 12-1 defeat at North Allegheny on May 9, 2009, and their first mercy-rule loss at home since a 13-3 loss to Gateway on April 22, 2008.
Norwin also had won 26 consecutive section games dating back to a 6-5 loss at Albert Gallatin on April 28, 2010, and its last loss to Hempfield (2-0, 1-0) was on April 23, 2008.
“We definitely did not expect to (10-run) them, but they made a couple of mistakes in the one inning and we took advantage of it,” Hempfield coach Tim Buzzard said. “We hit the ball well and we did a nice job when we got kids in scoring position, which is something we talked about all week.”
While DeFloria led the offense, senior pitcher Zack Martinelli kept the Norwin hitters off balance.
Though he struck out only three, he surrendered only one hit, a one-out double by Cody Stanoszek in the bottom of the third.
Then again, this was the first time Norwin had seen live pitching this spring. The Knights were unable to scrimmage another team because of the unruly weather throughout the latter part of March and did not have its best swings against one of the premier hurlers in the section.
“That (not facing anyone) definitely was a factor. Especially seeing Martinelli when you haven't seen a live pitcher yet and you go against one of the better kids you're going to see,” Liebdzinski said. “But defensively we just weren't very good and those are things that — whether it's your first time on a baseball field or not — those are plays you have to make.”