Hempfield baseball rides deep rotation into the postseason
TribLIVE Sports Videos
When the Hempfield baseball team had a minor slump at the plate mid-way through the season, it turned out to be not that big of a deal.
That's because the Spartans have perhaps one of the most talented and deepest pitching staffs in all the WPIAL.
Headlined by Greg Martin and Zach Martinelli, coach Tim Buzzard's hurlers — a staff that goes six-seven deep — have a combined 2.00 ERA this season. In seven outings, Hempfield held opponents to one run or less, including shutouts against section rivals Norwin, Kiski Area and Albert Gallatin.
“Our pitching has been great all year,” he said. “I've never been associated with a team ERA that low. We have a lot of strong pitchers who really throw strikes and are smart players. As a coach you won't have many years pitching-wise like we had this regular season.”
Martinelli opened the postseason by tossing a 2-0, one-hit shutout over Fox Chapel, striking out 18 in the process.
Hempfield (18-3), which won the Section 2-AAAA title after compiling a 10-2 mark, figures to be a tough out in the WPIAL playoffs due to their pitching and rejuvenated hitting.
Buzzard is confident his team will be ready for its upcoming big games. He points out the grueling schedule his team played to make it battle-tested.
Besides its section schedule, the Spartans posted nonsection wins against Pine-Richland, Central Catholic, Canon-McMillan and Belle Vernon. Hempfield dropped a tight, 3-0 contest at perennial power North Allegheny.
“We haven't put up (18) wins in one year in a long, long time,” Buzzard said. “Our section is always tough, but we really went after it in the nonconference games. We played some of the top teams out there and performed very well. That experience should bode well for us in the playoffs. These guys ran through a very hard schedule and really performed well.”
Along with rising junior Joey DeFloria, the Spartans have had numerous players step up in offensive roles.
Seniors Nathan Mori (.404 avg), Luke Fox (.404) and Martin (.390) continually have posed problems for opposing pitchers. The trio has consistently delivered game-changing hits for the Spartans.
“Teams obviously know Joey is a huge threat,” Buzzard said. “When you have a big bat like him in your lineup it just makes everybody else better. If teams pitch around Joey, he's very dangerous on the base paths because of his speed. But guys like Martin and several others have had really big seasons for us.”
Despite the regular season success, Buzzard said he's been stressing to his team not to lose focus. Unlike college and professional baseball, the WPIAL playoffs are a win-and-advance system, rather than a series.
“We're pretty confident in our ability,” Buzzard said. “We know we can do well, but I keep telling the players it's single elimination. You can't have a bad day or an off day in the playoffs because that will be it. We have to do what we do best and that's fundamentals. We can't look ahead. We just have to get through one game at a time.”
Hempfield was scheduled to play Canon-McMillan in the quarterfinals Wednesday, after deadline for this edition.
Brian Hunger is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Disney TV Animation going strong after 30 years
- Penn State mens basketball wins fourth in a row, improves to 6-1
- Homework: Gifts and Greens Market is Dec. 4-6
- Steelers notebook: Defense has a retro feel
- Homes for the holiday: Christmas house tours abound
- Gazing at the grass in winter is a vision in grace
- National Portrait Gallery asks public to vote for art
- Ryan says journalism, fiction ways to tell story
- Ray Rice wins appeal, suspension vacated, can return to NFL
- Book details Steelers’ history in black and white
- Icy roads cause accidents, slow traffic across Western Pa.