No. 2 Hopewell topples Keystone Oaks to reach WPIAL championship

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019 | 9:52 PM


After falling in the Final Four the last two years, the third time was a charm for Hopewell as the No. 2 Vikings defeated No. 3 Keystone Oaks, 6-1, in a WPIAL Class 3A semifinal Wednesday at Boyce-Mayview Park.

The victory puts the Vikings into the WPIAL baseball title game for the first time since 2013. They will face No. 4 Steel Valley (12-8) next Wednesday at Wild Things Park.

“It was a solid effort,” Hopewell coach Mike Shuleski said. “It starts on the mound with Roman Gill. For a sophomore, the composure that he has, the way he attacked hitters. He kept making pitches and let his defense work.”

Gill went the distance in allowing one run on five hits with only one walk and three strikeouts.

“It felt good, I know I have guys behind me that will make plays, I just had to make my pitches, and it seemed to work today,” Gill said.

The big righthander admitted he was a little nervous when he took the mound.

“A little bit and then as the game went on, I felt really good.”

Hopewell gave Gill the lead in the third inning when senior Tyler Beck singled home junior Enzo Palumbo, who had reached on a one-out walk.

The Vikings (15-5) blew the game open in the fifth inning with some help from Keystone Oaks (14-5).

Josh Miklos, who had three hits for Hopewell, reached on an error and was sacrificed to second. Jake McGovern was walk intentionally and Alex Kunzman singled to load the bases.

Anthony Slate delivered a two-run single, and after a wild pitch scored a fourth run, Mark Phillippi singled home Slate and the Vikings led 5-0.

The only inning Keystone Oaks had more than one base runner was in the sixth. That’s when the Golden Eagles plated their only run on a Sammy Tortorella single that scored Nate Brestensky, who had singled and advanced on a wild pitch.

McGovern’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth scored Palumbo with the game’s final run.

The win washes the bad taste out of the mouth of the Vikings, who lost in the district semifinals in 2017 to South Park, 9-2, and in 2018 to South Fayette, 1-0.

Keystone Oaks has never played for a WPIAL baseball title. The Golden Eagles are now 0-4 in semifinal games since 2013. KO will play Freeport next week in the Class 3A consolation game with a berth in the PIAA playoffs up for grabs.

Hopewell is one win from a fourth district championship, with the latest coming in 2010.

“I think the guys are playing well defensively, and we are getting good pitching,” Shuleski said. “That’s the Hopewell of old.”

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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