Westmoreland County baseball notebook: Injuries haven’t slowed Hempfield

Thursday, April 29, 2021 | 8:08 PM

Hempfield might be down two key players, but the Spartans don’t seem too concerned about the sky falling any time soon.

Junior Joey Fiedor and senior Michael Hosni were injured in the same game when the Spartans won at Bethel Park, 3-2, on April 16.

Fiedor injured his right elbow, while Hosni broke a finger on his left hand. It is unclear if and when they will be able to return.

Hosni was a first-team all-section player two years ago. Fiedor is having a solid all-around season.

Hempfield (9-5, 6-2) is 4-1 since the pair was shelved and has won seven of eight.

“The thing about them is that they have been awesome team guys whether they’re in or out of the lineup,” Spartans coach Tim Buzzard said. “The other kids feed off of that. Our kids make no excuses and all believe in each other.”

Fiedor, who is hitting .357 with nine steals, was the shortstop, so senior Christian Zilli has moved into that spot and has been effective. Hosni has been replaced at first by junior Noah Zadroga.

Junior Aidan Dunlap was just getting healthy from a fractured hand when Fiedor and Hosni went down. He has been playing second base but is not batting again yet. Dunlap started as a freshman.

Junior Ryan Firmstone is playing third and junior Austin Corona also has filled in on the infield.

“It’s tough when you lose those caliber of guys,” Buzzard said. “But it’s nice to have come depth. In 6A you can develop guys and have them ready to step in. We have a lot of capable guys that we have a lot of confidence in. It’s nice to get them opportunities.”

Despite the setbacks, the fifth-ranked Spartans are in the thick of the Section 2-6A race, sitting alone in second place with a giant, two-game series looming next week against No. 1 and first-place Norwin.

The Spartans have clinched a playoff spot.

“We’re hoping to get healthy at the right time, for the final stretch,” Buzzard said. “Our defense has been very good and we have pitching depth. Our top two (pitchers) have been very good. We’re going to keep battling.”

Phil Fox is 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA and 41 strikeouts, while Jake Kramer is 4-1 with 25 Ks in 26⅓ innings.

Brandon Coughlin has put together a productive season, hitting .467 with 14 RBIs, Jayson Jacob is batting .364, and Zilli, a Seton Hill commit, has 11 RBIs.

Fever pitch

Franklin Regional (11-0) remained the only undefeated baseball team in the WPIAL through Wednesday as the Panthers added to their perfect mark with three lopsided wins: 10-0 vs. Leechburg and 17-2 and 10-0 over Gateway in Section 1-5A.

While their potent offense is impressive, the pitching staff has been exhaustively efficient.

The team has a 1.34 ERA and has only used five pitchers, including starters Brian Pirone and Luke Treloar, who have worked 59 of 68 total innings.

Pirone (6-0), a Seton Hill commit, has 42 strikeouts in 27 innings and a 1.82 ERA. Treloar, who will play at Cal U, is 4-0 with a 1.12 ERA. He also has a save.

Chris Pagano also has a win. In his one start, he went two innings and all 17 of his pitches were strikes.

And to think Andrew Muraco, the second baseman, was the team’s No. 1 pitcher two years ago. He is healing from an arm injury, but the Panthers have been fine without him on the mound.

Muraco, a Coastal Carolina commit as a position player, could end up back in the mix as the season moves ahead.

Wild one

Southmoreland and Charleroi won’t soon forget their wild Section 4-3A slugfest Tuesday in Alverton.

When the dust settled, the visiting Cougars won, 22-20, in nine innings.

The Scotties took a 16-5 lead after four innings before the Cougars rallied to cut it to 18-14 after six, and then hung four more runs in the seventh to force extras.

After a scoreless eighth, Charleroi scored four in the top of the ninth to take a 22-18 lead. Southmoreland’s comeback fell two runs short, and it lost for the sixth straight time.

Ben Shields went 3 for 4 with a homer and seven RBIs for Charleroi, while Kory Ansell drove in five, and Anthony Govern went 5 for 6 with four RBIs for the Scotties.

The teams combined for 24 hits and nine errors.

Going streaking

After Tuesday’s local WPIAL action, five teams remained hot. Franklin Regional has won 11 straight, Greensburg Central Catholic has a 10-game winning streak, Penn-Trafford has won nine in a row, and Norwin hasn’t lost in seven straight outings.

All four of those teams have clinched WPIAL playoff spots, Norwin in Class 6A, Franklin Regional and Penn-Trafford in 5A, and GCC in Class A.

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

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