Hempfield baseball headed to PIAA playoffs for 1st time
Hempfield's historic baseball season will continue for at least another week.
And if the players and coach Tim Buzzard have anything to say about it, even longer.
Hempfield got three RBI from Joey DeFloria and a two-run home run by Greg Martin Wednesday to defeat Pine-Richland, 9-2, in a WPIAL Class AAAA third-place game at Washington & Jefferson's Ross Memorial Park.
The victory puts Hempfield (20-4) into the PIAA playoffs for the first time. The Spartans will play WPIAL champion North Allegheny Monday at Shaler.
Hempfield jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning off Pine-Richland starter Jamie Switalski. Luke Fox, who went 3 for 4, opened with a single and swiped second. After Nathan Mori walked, both runners moved up on a wild pitch.
DeFloria bounced a ball off shortstop Daane Berezo's glove for an error to score Fox, and Mori scored when the ball rolled into center field.
Usually, that's all Hempfield starter Zach Martinelli needs, but the senior who will pitch at Seton Hill University in 2014, struggled with his control. He was lifted after allowing a run, a hit and eight walks.
“It was the most walks we've had by five all season,” Buzzard said. “But the pitchers made big pitches when we needed them. Greg's hit gave us a little breathing room, and then we had that huge sixth inning.”
After Pine-Richland trimmed the Hempfield lead to 2-1, Martin hit a two-run home run that easily cleared the 385-foot mark in right-center.
“He was working me inside the entire game,” Martin said. “I was trying to make good contact.”
Mori had a two-run single in the sixth inning and DeFloria followed with a two-run triple.
Martinelli said: “I have no idea why I was so wild. I couldn't control anything. Good thing the offense showed up.”
Pine-Richland (17-6) left 11 runners on base. It only had two hits, but could not take advantage of 10 walks.
“Unfortunately, we didn't get that big hit,” Pine-Richland coach Kurt Wolfe said. “We made Martinelli work, and we got guys on base, but when you only get two hits you're not going to win many games. We haven't been hitting in the playoffs.”