Big inning for Spring-Ford sends Hempfield to season-ending loss

Thursday, June 10, 2021 | 8:37 PM

WINGATE — Sure, it’s not the way the Hempfield baseball team wanted to see its season end.

But the Spartans’ season was historic, and the future remains bright.

Spring-Ford, the District 1 fifth-place team, used a seven-run second inning and defeated Hempfield, 10-1, in the PIAA Class 6A quarterfinals at Bald Eagle Area. Spring-Ford (22-4) will face the WPIAL champion, North Allegheny, on Monday at a site and time to be determined.

North Allegheny defeated Philadelphia Central Tech, 8-1, earlier in the afternoon at Bald Eagle Area.

Two walks, a hit batter and three consecutive bunt singles in the bottom of the inning broke the game open.

Hempfield tied the score 1-1 on a Michael Hosni single in the top of the second inning, but things fell apart in the bottom of the inning.

After Jack Kisela walked, Dylan Ducharme beat out a bunt single. Kisela ended up a third base on an error.

Billy Bean then bunted for a hit to score Kisela. Then Nick Cagliola bunted for a hit. Cole Casamento then walked with the bases loaded.

“We didn’t make the plays in the second inning,” Hempfield coach Tim Buzzard said. “I thought we were prepared for everything, but obviously we weren’t (ready), and that falls on me.

“It’s definitely something we’ll learn from. We have to be sharper in our preparation. When you get in a hole like that, it becomes real tough in these types of games.”

The inning continued. Griffin Straface’s fly ball was dropped, Jarrett Gordon was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Ayden McNelly cleared the bases with a two-run double.

After the second inning, Spring-Ford starting pitcher Luke Czachor retired 11 batters in a row before Phil Fox walked with one out in the sixth inning.

Spring-Ford was sound in all phases of the game. It wasn’t surprising to anyone when it squared around to bunt in the second inning. It just executed better.

“I’m super proud of the players and our seniors and everything they accomplished,” Buzzard said. “I don’t really want to live off this last game because we had such great moments through the year and have accomplished so much as a program. Thursday was a tough day, tough start.”

It truly was a memorable season for the Spartans (16-9). They reached the WPIAL championship game for the first time in school history, and they reached the PIAA quarterfinals for a second time.

Buzzard hopes the success of the program continues to build in the community.

He hopes the younger players who witnessed the team reach the WPIAL finals will want to be the first Hempfield team to win a WPIAL title.

“We’ve fallen short of the WPIAL title game,” Buzzard said. “That was one that we’ve been trying to get past, and this year we did accomplish that. We weren’t satisfied. We wanted more, and we’re going to try to win the WPIAL title and go as far as we can in the state playoffs.

“We’re one of the last eight teams left, which is great. But we’re always striving for something better. That’s the mindset of everyone here: the players, the coaches, everything.”

And while seniors Fox, Christian Zilli, Hosni, Luke Anderson, Tyler Mull, Braydon Patton, Hunter Smiles and Reese Woodley have accomplished a lot, the bar they set for future teams is not unreachable.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at


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