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Hampton Palomino measured success by progress rather than wins and losses

| Sunday, July 23, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Hampton coach Gary Wilson talks with catcher Christopher Suddeth during a scrimmage against Allderdice on March 23, 2017, at Hampton.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Hampton coach Gary Wilson talks with catcher Christopher Suddeth during a scrimmage against Allderdice on March 23, 2017, at Hampton.

Hampton Palomino coach Nate Suddeth said at the beginning of the season, “To be honest, we don't play for the record.”

Suddeth held true with that statement after, when asked for his team's final win-loss count, he just couldn't recall. What matters most is players develop their skills.

Hampton Palomino concluded its season Friday with a 6-5 loss to Beaver County. And while it might not have completed a memorable season, the team made the playoffs, and, Suddeth said, the development was evident.

Having gone 3-3 over the last six games of the season — over a stretch of five days — the team ended on a good note despite the loss. Beaver County defeated Hampton, 9-5, in the first-round game of the double- elimination tournament.

“To me we were playing our best at the end of the season,” Suddeth said. “To me, that's what matters. I do think we got better over the course of the season, and I think the guys were having fun.”

Hampton defeated Mars and split a doubleheader with North Allegheny to end the season. While the team got contributions across the board, rising senior Sean Mikulan's hot bat and performance on the mound stood out. Mikulan hit two home runs and gave the team four solid innings of shutout ball in its only playoff win, a 3-0 victory against the Tri-T (Northeast Ohio region) team.

Additionally, the team had solid play from all age groups. Alex Gust, who just finished his freshman year at Pitt, came in and gave the team a late jolt, picking up a three-inning save in the playoff victory.

“He brought a lot of good experience, grit and perspective, which is great,” Suddeth said.

Chris Suddeth, one of the top hitters for Hampton's varsity team in the spring, had a strong summer. After suffering a 10-0 loss to South Hills earlier in the season, the rising senior took the mound and delivered a solid one-run pitching performance in a close loss.

Nate Suddeth also highlighted some of the incoming freshmen who played well and said he was proud of how the team competed against Beaver County, which comprised eight regular Palomino teams spread across the county.

In the end, the depth just wasn't there. Hampton played many games with nine or 10 kids, leaving little flexibility for pitching and position changes.

“It was the back end of a doubleheader. Pitching depth — or lack thereof — caught up to us,” Suddeth said. “But I was proud of the kids and proud of the effort. They made great strides and worked on what they needed to.”

Devon Moore is a freelance writer.

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