Carson Shuglie’s grand slam powers Hempfield past Baldwin

Monday, April 10, 2023 | 8:52 PM

Hempfield did not have classes Monday as Easter break wound to a close, so some baseball players arrived early for their home game against Baldwin.

Carson Shuglie was among that group.

The junior put the extra swings to use as the Spartans opened a three-game series against the Highlanders.

Shuglie launched a pair of home runs, including his second grand slam in as many games, and drove in six runs to power the Spartans to an 8-6 victory.

The two homers and half-dozen RBIs marked career highs for Shuglie, who helped Hempfield ring up five runs in the fifth inning to rally from a 6-3 deficit.

“My teammates put me in position for me to drive them in and score,” said Shuglie, who went 2 for 3. “I stuck to my approach and tried to drive it the other way. I felt like I hit the (grand slam) pretty well. Coach (Tim) Buzzard was saying he thought it went around 380 feet.”

His teammates call him “Doug.”

“I don’t know why,” Shuglie said. “They said I looked like a Doug, and it stuck.”

Baldwin couldn’t get Doug out.

Hempfield (5-3, 3-1) has won five of its last six and kept up the momentum from a series win over then-No. 1-ranked Central Catholic. The Spartans took two of three from Central, balancing dependable pitching and timely hitting in their first encounter with the WPIAL’s new three-game series format.

Shuglie also hit a bases-clearing homer in a 7-3 win over Central Catholic on Thursday.

Junior catcher Caden Biondi tripled for the Spartans in the fifth to key the comeback.

With one out in the inning, reliever Adam Degenhart came on and issued a pair of walks to load the bases.

Shuglie, the designated hitter, clubbed an 0-1 pitch to deep center and well over the fence to put the Spartans in front 8-6.

“He’s on a nice little stretch here,” Buzzard said of Shuglie, who has three homers and 10 RBIs in his last two games. “He is swinging the bat well. He puts in the work, so I am proud of him. It’s nice to see him getting the results.”

Baldwin (3-6, 1-3) looked like the better team in the early innings, taking advantage of an error and a wild pitch to build a 2-0 lead in the first.

But Shuglie answered. After senior Gage Wheaton singled, Shuglie sent his first homer over the 330-foot sign in left to tie it.

Baldwin then took a 3-2 lead on another wild pitch in the third, before Biondi’s sacrifice fly cut it to 4-3 in the fourth.

Biondi finished with two hits and two RBIs.

Sophomore Dylan Firmstone also had two hits for Hempfield.

“The first few innings, we made mistakes that we haven’t made so far (in the season),” Buzzard said. “That kind of thing can go two ways. You can continue to spiral, or you can turn it around and make some plays. This group is fun to coach. There is no quit in them.”

The Highlanders, who opened with five games in Myrtle Beach, S.C., before dropping two of three against Norwin, added to their advantage in the fifth, scoring twice with two outs.

Junior Jack Narrett ripped an RBI single, and junior Dylan Lacher followed with another one to make it 6-3.

The big rally in the fifth might have had something to do with the confidence the Spartans forged and then validated against Central.

“We knew we could compete and beat good teams,” Buzzard said. “(The Central wins) gave us a little boost.”

John “Jack” Kurdziel picked up the win in the series opener, going five innings.

Freshman Chase Sikorski earned his first save, the Spartans’ fifth of the season.

Junior Adam Leddbetter had two of Baldwin’s four hits. Senior Christian Forgasz also had two RBIs.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .

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