Errors costly as No. 3 Hampton tops Knoch
It didn't take long for the Hampton baseball team to get to Knoch's bullpen Monday in a WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinal playoff game at North Allegheny.
While only allowing an unearned run in 1 1⁄3 innings, Knights starter Alex Stobert was forced from the game with an injury after colliding with Hampton's Steve Dayton as he attempted to tag him out along the first base line.
Dayton was ejected from the game, and his replacement, Matt Donelly, filled in with two doubles and three timely RBIs to lead the No. 3 Talbots (13-7) to a 6-2 win over Knoch (8-9), propelling them to Friday's semifinals against No. 10 West Allegheny.
“I don't think it was any intent on Steve's part,” Hampton coach Gary Wilson said. “Talking to the other coaches who had a better angle than I did on the first base side it was more in self-defense, but his hands came away from his body the umpire said, so they had to make the call. … Matt Donelly stepped up and filled in for him and did a great job.”
Knoch sophomore Bryan Jack came on in relief, and between a key two-run double by Donelly in the third inning and costly errors in the infield behind him, he had a tough time finding a consistent rhythm.
“We made too many errors. … There's always a winner and a loser and there's always a reason why,” Knoch coach George Bradley said. “You can't play in the playoffs like that, so that's what happened, and we didn't get the clutch hits.”
Hampton starting pitcher David Cricks allowed two runs on four hits with eight strikeouts in six innings to earn the win against Section 5-AAA foe Knoch, Hampton's third win over the Knights this season.
“He never lost his composure out there,” Wilson said of his starting pitcher. “David battles; he's gotten himself into some jams periodically throughout the course of the year, and he's been able to work out of them.”
Trailing 4-1 in the fifth inning, Knoch trimmed the deficit to two as Jordan Hickey scored on an error, but Hampton responded in the bottom half of the inning with RBIs by Donelly and Tyler Iversen.
Knoch was led by Chris Law, who had an RBI single; Cole Shinsky, who had a double; and Zach Junk with a pair of singles.
Knoch advanced to the quarterfinal matchup after upsetting Thomas Jefferson, 5-3, in the first round.
“I told the kids we're getting growth in spurts,” Bradley said. “Consequently you get those ups and downs, so this could be a learning experience for next year.”
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.