With bad weather scrambling schedule, beach trips means a lot to Hampton baseball

Saturday, April 6, 2024 | 11:01 AM

The Hampton baseball team found a way in late March to mix business with pleasure.

Leaving behind another chilly, damp spring in Western Pennsylvania, the Talbots traveled to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for five days of much-needed practice and games.

Hampton, which had its first week of the WPIAL schedule wiped out due to poor weather, went 3-0 from March 25-30 at the Cal Ripken Experience while also bonding over team dinners and trips to the beach.

“We became so close as a team,” said junior right fielder Alex Kuzniewski, who had a combined six hits in the first two games. “We all had experiences together that we will be able to share and have fun with throughout the whole season. It was a great environment, and it sets us up for the season.”

As April arrived, the Talbots still hadn’t played a game this spring against a WPIAL team — only a handful of other district teams were getting off to such a late start. Hampton also had held only one practice on its home field, which was undergoing infield and pitching mound renovations. Instead, the Talbots practiced at Hampton Community Park for the bulk of March.

Those obstacles made the trek to Myrtle Beach even more valuable.

“I’m so glad we went on that trip just to be able to get out on a field and play different squads instead of playing ourselves,” coach Kellen Wheeler said. “Everything was awesome.”

Hampton — all 30 players on the varsity and JV made the trip — departed late afternoon March 25 and arrived at the Breakers Resort at 7 a.m. March 26 after a 14-hour chartered bus ride. Following a day of fun at the beach, the Talbots defeated Cape May Tech (N.J.), Hazard (Ky.) and Tennessee High School on consecutive days.

When they weren’t playing, they held practices on the synthetic turf fields at Grand Park Athletic Complex.

Highlights of Hampton’s first two games included senior Parker Brockway and sophomore Jake Adamcyzk combining for a three-hitter in a 14-0 win over Cape May Prep and senior Caleb Custer pitching a two-hitter, striking out eight, in a 7-1 win over Hazard.

In an 8-6 victory over Tennessee, Brady Smith struck out six in 6 1/3 innings, sophomore outfielder James Derence hit an inside-the-park home run, and junior shortstop Dylan Eichas made a pair of stellar defensive plays.

But the trip was about much more than baseball. With temperatures in the low 60s to low 70s, the players goofed around at the beach, ate at a popular burger joint and walked along the pier.

“The wind and the cold water did not stop them from going into the ocean,” Wheeler said. “They were throwing footballs. They were jumping in the water. Two kids had fishing rods brought down for them, and they were fishing in the water. It was great for them.”

Said Kuzniewski, “That was really fun. It was a bit chilly for the beach, but it was still great weather. … It was a good time, a fun time.”

The Talbots were scheduled to open Section 4-4A play against North Catholic on April 1-2 and Kiski Area on April 8-9. But with more rain in the forecast for early April, Hampton may have to wait.

“We put so much time and effort into the offseason,” Wheeler said. “We’re really excited to get this thing rolling whenever this weather breaks and get into the season and get into some of these section games and see what we can do.”

Fun in the sun

Hampton went 3-0 at the Cal Ripken Experience in late March in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Date Opponent Result

3.27 Cape May Tech (N.J.) W, 14-0

3.28 Hazard (Ky.) W, 7-1

3.29 Tennessee (Bristol) W, 8-6


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