Kiski Valley hammers Hempfield East
Doug Donatelli showed off a row of braces on his top teeth Tuesday, as the 16-year-old beamed a wide grin.
After the Kiski Valley American Legion baseball team’s emotional roller-coaster ride the past two days, one of the team’s youngest players earned that smile yesterday.
One day after the Vikings’ initial District 31 playoff victory was disallowed because of an illegal bat ruling, Donatelli pitched six strong innings and hit a two-run homer, leading No. 3 seed Kiski Valley to a 10-4 victory over No. 6 seed Hempfield East at Laube Field in Freeport.
“Nothing had to be said before the game. We all wanted to beat them pretty bad, and we did what we could and finally hit and put 10 runs up,” Donatelli said. “We know everything is even. They have to come back here one more time, and the winner moves on.”
The game was picked up in the second inning from Sunday — the point of Hempfield’s protest. Hempfield won Monday at home, 7-2.
The teams meet again at 5:30 p.m. today to decide the three-game series.
Donatelli gave up five hits while striking out six.
“He’s going to be a horse, and he’s got a mean bat, too. And he’s young; he’s still got to learn,” Vikings coach Ron Montgomery said of Donatelli. “They were down pitching a little bit, and we hadn’t been swinging the bats.”
Kiski Valley leadoff hitter Dylan Wolsonovich led the offensive outburst, going 2 for 3 with three runs and four RBI. The Pitt recruit’s three-run home run broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth inning and gave the Vikings the lead for good.
Kiski Valley had more errors (six) than hits (five). But three of those hits went for extra bases, and the Vikings took advantage of Hempfield starter Corey Keenan’s wildness. The 16-year-old walked four and hit three batters in just 21/3 innings.
“Our young guys have thrown strikes 60 percent of the year, but they just couldn’t find it today,” Hempfield East coach Ron Frye said. “That’s no excuse. They’ve pitched well all year, and I expected no different.”
With one out in the fourth, Kennan walked consecutive batters on eight straight pitches, and Wolsonovich followed with a deep shot to straight-away center off reliever Matt Moyer. It was Kiski Valley’s first hit and only its ninth hit in its past 17 innings.
“It’s very easy to say, ‘Let’s everybody stay in the game. Let’s come to play,’ and you saw how that worked yesterday after we got the news (about Sunday’s victory being stripped away),” Montgomery said. “Mentally, it’s a tough thing to overcome.
“They’re a good team, and I was going to say that if we lost today. I respect Ron, and I don’t want there to be any more issues.”
Hempfield answered in the fifth on Corey Marshall’s two-run triple to left-center, cutting the deficit to 5-4. But Donatelli struck out cleanup hitter Cody Dalicandro swinging for the second time, and the visitors never threatened again.
The Vikings added two runs in the fifth on Zach Komoroski’s grounder to short and pinch hitter Ryan Dunn’s sacrifice fly. They added three more runs in the sixth on an infield hit by Wolsonovich and Donatelli’s home run over the left-field hillside.
“I’ve heard they think the competition (in the South Division) is stiffer, but I didn’t expect to come in and roll over these guys,” Frye said. “They’re the three-seed, and we’re the six, so I’m not surprised this thing is going to a third game.”
Donatelli wasn’t the only one smiling widely on the other side of the field.
“Sunday, we were riding high, and Monday just took the wind out of our sails,” Montgomery said. “We have to win three of four to win the series, I guess.”
Anthony Bozzuto and Moyer had doubles, and Corey Marshall tripled for Hempfield East.