Hempfield’s DiAndreth twins face off on opposite sides of baseball diamond
IUP freshman baseball standout Nick DiAndreth, a 2018 Hempfield grad, took off from first base after a hard-hit ball to the gap at shortstop during the first game of the Crimson Hawks’ series with PSAC rival Seton Hill this past Saturday. The hit had the potential to become a double-play ball, and standing in the way was Nick’s twin bother, Isaiah, the Griffins starting shortstop.
“The only thing that really went through my mind was just get to the bag,” Nick said. “I knew I was out. I just was looking to break up the double play.”
Isaiah ended up turning the double play. Nick got to his feet, began to walk back the IUP dugout, looked back over his shoulder at Isaiah and the two locked eyes for a moment.
“He just turned back around and yelled two outs,” said Nick, who is two minutes older.
It was strictly business for the brothers DiAndreth. After nearly two years of nervous anticipation since they committed to play baseball at rival schools, the moment of inevitability finally arrived for their parents, Jim and Jamie DiAndreth. Their sons had taken their lifelong sibling rivalry to the next level and, for the first time, walked onto the baseball field as opponents.
“It truly was a fun weekend,” Jamie said. “It was fun from a family standpoint and very difficult from a baseball standpoint.
“I texted them after the first game, and Nick said that I do not like this feeling.”
Jim knew who he was cheering for, sort of. While Jamie wore crimson, the common color for both schools, Jim wore two shirts. He did the old gym class move of pulling his shirt over his head and behind his neck to support whichever team was at bat.
“It was really hard to cheer,” Jamie said. “What we’re really cheering for?”
Jamie is right. Seton Hill, the two-time defending PSAC champ, clinched the fourth and final PSAC playoff spot after sweeping IUP in a home and away doubleheader series that began last Thursday at IUP. The series marks the end of the regular season for both teams.
“I think (the losses were) more difficult for Nicholas because Isaiah’s team was already moving forward,” Jamie said.
Seton Hill (29-19, 18-10) will go into Wednesday’s PSAC Tournament as the No. 4 seed from the West and will face the East’s top-seeded team, Millersville (37-12, 23-5).
On the other side, the four-game sweep marked the end of Nick’s freshman season at IUP (15-30, 8-20). Nick will go on to play for the Paul Carpenters in the Johnstown AAABA wooden-bat league. Nick admitted he was a bundle of nerves in the first game at IUP. He said it took the first game for him to settle down.
“Everybody on my team kept saying that they could feel the tension between me and my brother,” Nick said. “I felt it right away but then it just felt like I was playing another game.”
Nick went a combined 1 for 9 at the plate over the four games. He had one highlight when he poked a shot over Isaiah’s head at short.
Isaiah went 3 for 12, including three RBIs and a monster home run that cleared the IUP left-field scoreboard. Isaiah also had the advantage on defense. He was constantly moving his third baseman into position to play to Nick’s tendencies.
“I play up on him,” Isaiah said. “He’s pretty fast. If he hits the ball, I gotta get rid of it quick.”
The handshake line didn’t go quite as expected after the fourth and final game. No, a wrestling match didn’t break out.
“I’ll probably push him or something like that,” Isaiah joked. “We don’t really fight that much, but we screw around with each other a lot.”
Instead of pushing and shoving, the brothers offered up an olive branch in the form of a fist bumps and a simply laughed at one another.
“It was pretty weird not playing on the same team and cheering against him,” Isaiah said. “I thought it was also very fun and a great weekend competing against him.”
William Whalen is a freelance writer.