Hempfield baseball season one for program to build on
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It wasn't quite the ending the Hempfield baseball team was looking for, but when it was all over, the 2013 season was one of the best in school history.
The Spartans reeled off a 20-5 overall record, including a Section 2-AAAA title, three postseason victories and the program's first trip to the PIAA playoffs.
Ultimately, the Spartans weren't able to get past nemesis North Allegheny, losing to the Tigers in the WPIAL semifinals, 3-0, and again in the first round of the PIAA playoffs, 3-1. The Tigers also recorded a 3-0 regular-season victory.
“Overall, it was just a great year for the Hempfield program,” sixth-year coach Tim Buzzard said. “We were very fortunate to have a senior group who really set the bar for success. They worked so hard, and I'm so happy for them to go out on such a high note.”
The season's closing marked the end of many of the Spartans' high school careers. Buzzard lost eight seniors to graduation, including team leaders Greg Martin and Zach Martinelli.
“This is a group who won 20 games,” Buzzard said. “I couldn't be prouder of the year they put together. We are definitely going to miss them, but their legacy will be setting the benchmark for success and taking the program to levels it hasn't been before. They had outstanding careers here.”
Buzzard points to many defining moments throughout the season that catapulted his team.
One came in early April against Penn-Trafford when senior Corey Kennan delivered two clutch, late-inning two-run hits to rally the Spartans to a huge section win. It was a game Buzzard said his team didn't play well but found a way to win.
Another was a day after a late-April loss to Penn-Trafford when Hempfield responded with a 6-0 shutout of Central Catholic, which saw Martinelli and Martin combine to blank one of the WPIAL's top teams. It was a game Buzzard felt would define the remainder of the season.
But the one he felt was most important wasn't actually a win. It was a 5-4 loss at Connellsville and was the Spartans' first loss of the season.
“They played good, and we just didn't have it that day,” he said. “It came as a major wake-up call and really showed the kids they couldn't just show up flat and expect to win. It raised our level of awareness and propelled us into the rest of the season.”
While this chapter is closing, another one is starting. Despite the imminent graduation losses of several key team members, the cupboard is left far from bare for next season.
The Spartans will return a host of key contributors, headlined by rising senior-to-be Joey DeFloria and pitcher Tyler Tubbs. Both, Buzzard said, had outstanding junior years. DeFloria is considered a top college prospect and is already being scouted by several major league organizations.
“We're excited for next year already,” Buzzard said. “We obviously lost a lot of good pitching, but overall we have a good crop coming back. Guys like Tyler and Marc Demilio will step into bigger pitching roles and should have big seasons. They got some good experience this year. The expectations are high here. We're going to get back at it, and the kids will work real hard in the offseason.”
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.