Conti’s walk-off homer vaults Hampton past Gateway in Class 5A first round
By: Chris Harlan
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 | 11:06 PM
Hampton's Phil Conti has accomplished plenty with the Talbots, but never had the William & Mary recruit ended a game with a homer.
“We were actually talking about it earlier,” Conti said Tuesday. “A couple of guys were asking what would I do if I hit a walk-off homer?”
With two outs in the seventh, they found out.
The senior launched a pitch over the left-center field fence at Fox Chapel, a two-run walk-off homer to defeat No. 9 seed Gateway, 4-2, in the WPIAL Class 5A first round.
Conti couldn't celebrate right away — “I didn't know it was gone off the bat, so I really couldn't do anything” — but afterward his teammates doused him with ice water.
“He's been doing that all year for us,” Hampton coach Gary Wilson said. “He's been a great team leader, just a great athlete. That was big. He deserved that one.”
No. 8 Hampton (15-4) advances to face No. 1 Moon (13-4) in the quarterfinals Monday. Sites and times were not yet announced.
The Talbots played without senior Chris Suddeth, whose father was very ill and hospitalized, Wilson said. Suddeth was on the minds of teammates, and some were headed to see him immediately after the win.
“I'd like to think that was for him,” Wilson said.
Conti was Hampton's starting pitcher Tuesday and allowed two runs in three innings before shifting to shortstop. Casey Marshalwitz pitched four scoreless innings in relief to earn the win.
Gateway (12-6) had no hits and just two walks against Marshalwitz, who struck out four.
“We didn't hit the ball or hit the ball right at people,” Gateway coach Bill Stoops said. “We needed to play our A game. We played our B or C game. What can you do?”
Still, Gateway starter Kris Dick gave his team a chance with five strong innings. The senior allowed only one run on two hits and four walks. The Gators led 2-1 entering the sixth before Hampton scored three unearned runs against reliever Jordan Stancovich.
Gateway committed a two-out fielding error in both the sixth and seventh innings, mistakes that led to the go-ahead and winning runs. There also was a wild pitch that let the tying run reach third.
“Just physical errors,” Stoops said. “We didn't have any mental errors, just some physical ones. That was it.”
In the sixth, a two-out fielding error by Gateway third baseman Justin Stancovich let Hampton's Jon Ibinson score from third for a 2-2 tie.
In the seventh, another two-out error let Hampton's Tyler Bischke reach base. Bischke took second on an errant pickoff throw, and then Conti ended it with his fourth homer of the season.
“I heard their coach say, ‘Don't serve anything up, we've got an open base,' ” Conti said. “Then he served one up. I just tried to hit it hard, and it happened to go over.”
Hampton's Burke Camper had challenged the fence with a deep fly ball in the fifth inning, but Gateway right fielder Ethan Frenchik chased it down, made the catch and turned a double play.
Conti's line drive cleared the fence quickly.
“With the way the wind's blowing today, a couple of balls that were hit pretty good didn't carry at all,” Wilson said. “That thing (Conti hit) didn't hold up at all.”
Gateway led 1-0 in the first after Brady Walker was hit by a pitch and scored on Justin Stancovich's RBI single.
Hampton forced a 1-1 tie later in the inning when Bischke walked and scored on a Burke line drive. Bischke reached base three times and scored twice.
Gateway took a 2-1 lead in the second when Caleb Lehman drew a leadoff walk and courtesy runner Santino Comunale scored on Brendan Majocha's infield single.
Hampton then scored three runs in the final two innings to win.
“All year, we've had the mindset that we're never finished,” Wilson said. “We've come back several other times when we were down early. We just chiseled away and ended up winning the game at the end.”