Reliever shuts down Hempfield, boosts Seneca Valley into Class 6A semifinals

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Monday, May 20, 2024 | 9:59 PM


Seneca Valley coach Eric Semega stunned pitcher Zach Tkatch when the coach summoned him to the mound in the third inning.

Tkatch told his coach, “I haven’t thrown a pitch.”

Semega’s response was, “You got eight now (to warm up).”

Tkatch proceeded to shut down Hempfield’s offense, and No. 5 Seneca Valley defeated the No. 4 Spartans, 5-4, in a WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinal-round game Monday at Plum.

Seneca Valley will face No. 1 Mt. Lebanon, which defeated Butler, 5-0, at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Boyce Mayview Park.

Nick Parrotto scored the winning run on a single by Ryan Rebholz in the fifth inning for Seneca Valley.

But the story was Tkatch, who pitched five scoreless innings. He allowed two hits, struck out seven and walked three.

“Credit to their pitcher. He got hot at the end and really made some good pitches,” Hempfield coach Tim Buzzard said. “We just couldn’t get that key hit. I’m proud the way we bounced back.”

The Raiders jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on sacrifice flyouts by Mike Del­Duca and Owen Malak and a single by Aedan Fowler.

Hempfield responded in the bottom of the inning by stringing together consecutive hits by Adam Hess, Quinn Wilkins (RBI) and Caden Biondi (RBI).

Seneca Valley (12-8) added a run in the third inning when Malak scored on a fielder’s choice.

Hempfield (14-7) tied the score 4-4 on back-to-back doubles by Dylan Firmstone and Carson Shuglie (RBI) and a single by Biondi.

Tkatch gave up the RBI hit by Biondi but allowed only an infield hit in the fifth inning by Wilkins over the final four innings.

He struck out seven and walked three.

“We really had some great practices and scrimmages leading up to this game, and it showed,” Semega said. “Hempfield is one of the best hitting teams we’ve faced. I liked the way they attacked the ball. But that’s a testament to the way Zach pitched.”

Firmstone and Biondi had two hits each. Biondi drove in two runs.

Rebholz had two hits for Seneca Valley.

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 pschofield@triblive.com.

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