Hempfield East evens series
Matt Yasenosky was stuck behind a couple good catchers this past spring at Hempfield Area High School.
Most of his playing time was in junior varsity games.
But with Hempfield baseball coach Tim Buzzard in attendance Wednesday at Game 2 of the District 31 American Legion semifinal at Hempfield Area High School, Yasenosky made a good case at becoming the starting catcher next spring.
Yasenosky clubbed a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to snap a 2-2 score, and Hempfield East went on to defeat Latrobe, 4-3, to even the best-of-three series, 1-1.
The final game of the series will be played 5:30 p.m. today at Latrobe’s Legion-Keener Field.
Yasenosky’s home run came after Mike Walor drew a two-out walk. He drove a 1-0 fastball from Latrobe pitcher Brian Hantz over the 330-foot mark down the right-field line.
“I knew it was gone when he hit it,” Hempfield East coach Randy Naggy said. “The only thing I worried about was it going to stay fair.”
Naggy served as interim manager because Scott Smith, Hempfield East coach, had to sit out one game because he was ejected for arguing a play on Monday.
Yasenosky finished the game with two hits and three RBI. He drove in Hempfield East’s first run with a single in the second inning.
“I was looking for a fastball,” Yasenosky said. “He left it up in the zone, and I drove it.
“It’s pretty exciting to put your team in the lead. I’ve seen better pitching, and this is pretty competitive.”
Latrobe, which won Game 1, 7-6, in nine innings, didn’t go quietly in the top of the seventh inning. It loaded the bases with no outs, but managed to score only one run.
“We had our opportunities. We just didn’t get the big hit,” Latrobe coach Jason Bush said. “J.R. (Radakovich) gutted it up, and Matt is a good fastball hitter. The walk before him killed us.”
Radakovich’s own mental mistake when he failed to cover first base on a grounder got him in trouble.
Zach Bush opened the seventh with a single to right. Zach Clawson then beat out a grounder to second for a hit when Radakovich didn’t cover the bag.
Naggy went out to settle the club, but another mental mistake on Mike Fedele’s bunt single loaded the bases.
“We just got done talking about coverage on the bunt, and we didn’t execute,” Naggy said. “I don’t know what happened, but we didn’t cover first again. But the players didn’t panic, and J.R. made some big pitches.”
Radakovich got Nate Campbell to ground into a force out at home for the first out of the inning. Brad Burkardt, who tripled home a run in third inning, grounded into a fielder’s choice, which scored Clawson from third to make it 4-3.
Then, Radakovich got Jess Tetkoski to fly out to left fielder Dan Moyer to end the game.
“My defense played well,” Radakovich said. “We had a couple spectacular catches.”
Hempfield East grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second inning on RBI hits by Yasenosky and Wes Dugan.
Latrobe tied the score in the third inning when Campbell, who singled, scored when Burkardt’s hit took a bad hop and bounced over center fielder Pat Costello’s head for a triple. Burkardt scored on Tetkoski’s hit.