Hempfield ace Martinelli strikes out 18 in 1st-round victory
Zack Martinelli didn't let a two-hour delay to Monday's WPIAL Class AAAA first-round game affect him.
In fact, the Hempfield senior relished the spotlight under the lights at Gateway.
Martinelli tossed one of the most dominating performances ever in the WPIAL playoffs in leading Hempfield to a 2-0 victory over Fox Chapel. The start of the game, scheduled for 7 p.m., was delayed because the previous game went 11 innings.
Hempfield (18-3) will face Canon-McMillan, in a quarterfinal game 4 p.m. Wednesday at North Allegheny.
Martinelli, who only allowed a bunt single to leadoff hitter Taylor Huber in the fourth inning, struck out 18 and walked two.
“That was awesome,” Hempfield coach Tim Buzzard said. “That's what you expect from your ace in the playoffs. That was one of the most dominating performances I've ever witnessed at any level.”
Even when they did make contact, the Foxes couldn't get the ball out of the infield. Martinelli struck out the first nine batters.
“I thought we had some good cuts against him. We just couldn't make contact,” Fox Chapel coach Michael Frank said. “It was quite a pitcher's duel, five hits between the teams. It was a helluva job by both pitchers.
“He threw hard and was around the plate. I tip my hat to him.”
Hempfield grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Luke Fox, who singled, scored on a fielder's choice by Greg Martin. The Spartans added a second run in the fifth inning when Tyler Hensler singled home Jeff Livengood, who singled.
“I felt good early,” Martinelli said. “I knew one run was all I needed. I tried to stay confident throughout the game. I never dreamed I'd strike out 18 batters in a game.”
Fox Chapel threatened in the fifth, but Martinelli picked a runner off second.
“He had a great fastball and good location,” Buzzard said. “He mixed a slider once in awhile, but all he needed was his fastball.”
Martinelli outdueled Fox Chapel lefty Chad Bartlett, who allowed four hits, struck out seven and walked one.
“We had better swings against him later in the game,” Buzzard said. “I thought we handled the delay well. It was cold, but the players stayed loose.”
Martinelli, however, stayed hot.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @ Schofield_Trib.