South Park hammers Elizabeth Forward
Wylie Field isn't what you would call a field of dreams.
The fans crawling through a hole along the third base line fence to gain access to the bleachers, the basketball/tennis courts doubling as the batter's eye and a train belting its whistle only feet behind the home team's dugout may be charming, but they can also be distracting to opponents
South Park coach Steve Bucci was well aware of the conditions when his team traveled to Wylie Field to put its perfect 9-0 record on the line against Elizabeth Forward in a Section 4-AAA game.
“I did some research beforehand,” Bucci said, “and they are a tough team to play here.”
You sure couldn't tell that Elizabeth Forward was 28-2 over its past 30 games at Wylie Field by what transpired against South Park.
South Park (10-0, 3-0) banged out 13 hits and hit double figure runs for the 10th time this year with a convincing 13-0 win over Elizabeth Forward (7-2, 1-2).
“Them being 28-2 was a stat that we knew coming in here,” Bucci said. “This is a tough place to play with a lot of open space and the background for hitters.”
It didn't seem to bother Nick Yobbi, and it sure didn't affect South Park's bats.
Yobbi improved to 3-0 on the year as he tossed six innings of shutout ball while scattering six singles and striking out six to raise his season total to 26.
“Obviously it was a painful section loss,” Elizabeth Forward coach Frank Champ said. “It was ugly and it could've been worse, for sure.”
For the second consecutive game, Elizabeth Forward struggled with what Champ referred to as routine plays. Add that to eight walks and two hit batters by three pitchers against one of the best teams in Triple-A and you get a second consecutive section blowout loss.
“I said it on Monday after West Mifflin's loss and I'll say it again — we need to make the routine plays,” Champ said. “Yobbi is very good — very good. You can't give him anything let alone do what we did.”
EF made three errors, but wasn't able to make a handful of other plays that allowed innings to continue.
South Park took advantage.
Jake Bywalski (two doubles, RBI), Greg Pantuso (single, double, RBI, three runs), Carter Grote (two hits, RBI), Cris Winkler (two hits, RBI), Randy Dobnak (single, double, three RBI) and Justin Dilla (two hits, three RBI) led the Eagles' offensive barrage.
“It seemed like we had their pitcher on the ropes nearly every inning,” Bucci said. “We feel like our top nine can match up with anybody's top nine.”
Elizabeth Forward didn't give losing pitcher Luke Padezan much help other than a pair of hits each from Jake Terrick and Ryan Wardropper.
“South Park is a talented group who can hit the ball and Nick Yobbi doesn't need much help,” Champ said.
Yobbi worked out of a jam in the first inning when he gave up hits to two of the first three batters before settling down. If it wasn't for a third-inning walk, Yobbi would've retired 15 in a row.
South Park gave Yobbi all he needed with a bases loaded double by Adam Thompson in the second that scored a pair followed by a run-scoring groundout by Pantuso to make it 3-0.
South Park added two more in the fourth then put the game away with eight runs over the final two innings.
“This score didn't indicate what kind of team they are,” Bucci said. “We played well in every facet of the game and I am hoping that continues.”
South Park hosts West Mifflin Friday night at Evans Field (7 p.m.) for sole possession of first place.
Mark Kaboly is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.