Hampton outlasts Keystone Oaks to advance in WPIAL playoffs
Hampton pitcher Ben Vey quickly understood Keystone Oaks' make-him-throw-strikes strategy when the first batter walked on four pitches.
His team had the same plan.
“I knew it was going to be a pitchers' battle,” said Vey, who scattered six hits and struck out 10 for Hampton in a 4-1 first-round victory Monday afternoon in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs. “That's really the thing with anyone. Make them throw strikes.”
At times, Keystone Oaks' Taylor Lehman had trouble with Hampton's patience.
The left-handed Penn State recruit threw three pitches past his catcher in a tough second inning, when No. 3 seed Hampton (12-7) scored three of its four runs.
With Hampton forcing long at bats, Lehman threw 35 pitches in the second. Hampton's Tyler Merigliano reached base after a six-pitch at-bat. Charlie Winek reached after eight.
“There were some great at bats,” Hampton coach Gary Wilson said. “We've talked about that all year. You just hope it happens. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't. But tonight, we had quite a few of those.”
Lehman allowed four hits and struck out seven but also walked six in six innings.
“You've got to make him throw pitches and tire him out,” said Vey, who also called Lehman a “fantastic pitcher.”
No. 14 Keystone Oaks (9-8) tried the same with Vey. After two innings, Vey had thrown 39 pitches. But he also had four strikeouts.
“They had a lot of patience,” Vey said. “They made me throw a lot of pitches. I finished with 118. That's my second-highest this year. They have a good eye.”
In a game that started with a two-hour rain delay, patience was key. Hampton will face Thomas Jefferson or Knoch in the WPIAL quarterfinals.
For Hampton, the win eased memories from last season's first-round exit. The Talbots were seeded No. 3 then as well.
“Every day you've got to play like your last, and we didn't do that last year,” Vey said.
A leadoff bunt single by Zach Staszak started Hampton's three-run second inning. A one-out double to left by Merigliano scored Staszak. Merigliano scored when Winek reached base after an infield error. Winek stole second and third, and then scored on a wild pitch to lead 3-0.
Hampton added another run in the fourth when Luke Nugent walked and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Staszak.
Keystone Oaks scored its only run in the fourth. Kevin Tunney singled, reached third on Ryan Roell's double and scored when Vey's pickoff throw reached center field.