Hempfield beats Canon-Mac to reach semifinals for 1st time
Hempfield used a strong pitching performance to win its opening round WPIAL Class AAAA playoff game on Monday.
They used a different method Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
Winning pitcher Greg Martin went 3 for 4 with three RBI, and outfielders Jeff Livengood and Luke Fox gunned down runners at the plate as Hempfield defeated Canon-McMillan, 7-3, to advance to the WPIAL semifinals for the first time in school history.
No. 3 Hempfield (19-3) will face No. 2 North Allegheny, which defeated Plum, on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
“I don't think they are uptight about reaching the semifinals,” Hempfield coach Tim Buzzard said. “They're excited they still have a shot at the finals.”
Martin worked the first four innings, limiting Canon-McMillan to two runs. Tyler Tubbs earned a three-inning save, limiting the Big Macs to one run. Both pitchers got clutch outs with runners in scoring position, as Canon-McMillan (12-8) stranded eight runners, including the bases loaded in the fourth inning.
Martin recorded a huge strikeout in the fourth inning when he got Canon-McMillan's leadoff hitter Frank Fortunato looking with the bases loaded.
Hempfield scored a run in every inning except the fourth and took advantage of wildness by starting pitcher John Ross. The Spartans drew six walks and five came around to score.
Ross walked five and allowed only two hits, an RBI double by Martin in the first inning and a two-run single by Martin in the third inning.
“They hit the ball well, and we knew that,” Buzzard said. “We knew we'd be in a battle, so we just limited the walks and tried to play a clean game defensively.”
Hempfield led, 2-0, after two innings before Canon-McMillan tied the score at 2-2 on Teagan Piechnick's home run and Fortunato, who had reached on a hit, scored on a hit by Jared Beach. Livengood, however, cut down a runner trying to score on Fortunato's hit.
“Our outfield is one of the best in the WPIAL,” Livengood said. “When I saw the runner rounding third, I knew I had the kid. I got him and it saved a run.”
Martin then followed in the bottom of the third with his two-run hit that gave Hempfield the lead for good at 4-2.
In the fifth inning, Fox, fielding an overthrow down the right field line, threw a strike to catcher Tyler Hensler to nail Beach trying to score the tying run.
“I was just doing my job backing up the play,” Fox said. “I knew I had a shot with a good throw. Tyler made a great play at the plate.”
Hempfield got out of trouble when Tubbs retired the next two batters to end the threat.
“Even though they scored a run, we were able to get an out,” Buzzard said. “That was a heck of a throw by Luke.”
Nathan Mori and Joey DeFloria added RBI hits in the sixth inning to give Hempfield a four-run lead.