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Hempfield East edges Bushy Run in Game 1 of Legion district semifinals

| Friday, July 13, 2018, 10:09 p.m.

Hempfield East and Bushy Run have played each other three times in the District 31 Westmoreland County American Legion Baseball league.

Twice during the regular season, Hempfield East prevailed by a single run.

It happened again in the opener of a best-of-three semifinals series Friday at Hempfield High School as Hempfield East prevailed, 5-4.

Matthew Wicker drove in the go-ahead run for Hempfield East during a two-run fourth after relieving starting pitcher Andrew Rosenberg in the top half of the inning and striking out Bushy Run’s Josh Hough with the bases loaded.

Rosenberg walked four in the inning as Bushy Run tied the score without the benefit of a hit. Wicker pitched the final 3 1/3 innings, giving up one hit while striking out three and walking two to earn the victory.

“He’s kind of like our safety net,” Hempfield East coach Harry Shamberger said. “He’s been steady at shortstop and our No. 3 hitter all year. When we’ve needed an inning or two of relief, he’s been solid.”

Game 2 of the series is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at Penn-Trafford High School.

Wicker, who has one year remaining at Greensburg Salem, where he was the Golden Lions’ top pitcher as a junior, shrugged off his latest outing with a workman-like attitude.

“I’ve been hot the past month,” he said, referring to his consistent play at the plate, in the field and on the mound, where he started just one game this year for Hempfield East.

“I like to play wherever, but I think I’d rather play the field the most and get the at-bats,” he said. “I want to play in college.”

Division II schools, including Cal (Pa.) and Seton Hill, have shown him some interest, he said.

Wicker singled and scored a run in the third and doubled home a run to break a 4-4 tie in the fourth against Max Pici, who worked the first five innings for Bushy Run. Wicker also singled in the sixth against reliever Trevor Wilson.

Hunter Eperesi, a Hempfield High School product, also produced three hits for Hempfield East, tripling and scoring a run in the second, singling home a run in the third and adding another single in the fifth as Hempfield East pounded out 10 hits.

Rosenberg and Wicker combined to limit Bushy Run to five hits.

“Every time we play East, it’s such an intense game,” Bushy Run assistant coach Jay Miller said. “Just two intense team out there, and it showed again this time.”

Hempfield East prevailed, 2-1, in both regular-season meetings.

Hempfield East took a 5-4 lead with a pair of runs in the fourth. Dejuan Hertzog’s sacrifice fly scored Fred Hipps before Wicker’s RBI double scored Rosenberg.

Bushy Run went in front, 4-3, in the top of the inning on a bases-loaded walk to Brett Andreani that prompted Shamberger to call on Wicker, who ended the threat.

Hempfield East scored in the first four innings. Isiah DiAndreth’s RBI single in the first put Hempfield East ahead, 1-0.

Bushy Rush led, 3-1, in the second on RBI singles by Mario Disso and John Borbonus and a passed ball that allowed Pici to score.

Hipps’ RBI single in the bottom of the second pulled Hempfield East within 3-2. Eperesi’s RBI single in the third knotted the score at 3-3.

Dave Mackall is a freelance writer.

Dave Mackall is a freelance writer.

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