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Champions aren't made in the gyms.  Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision.




 Hempfield East Storms Back to Victory

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By Paul Schofield
Tuesday, July 3, 2007

When baseball teams play at cozy Lint Field -- home of the West Hempfield American Legion team -- they find out quickly that no lead is safe.

Hempfield East, the champion of the Legion's Southeast Division, should know. Hempfield East scored six runs in the top of the seventh inning, highlighted by Mike Walor's grand slam, and rallied to defeat rival West Hempfield, 10-6, in a District 31 American Legion game Monday at Lint Field.

The victory completed a two-game sweep of the regular-season series between the Hempfield Township teams. Hempfield East improved to 14-2 in the division. West Hempfield concluded the regular season at 10-8.

"I knew their team wouldn't quit because of the rivalry," West Hempfield coach Bob Stokes said. "I'm upset with myself because I left my pitcher in too long."

West Hempfield, on the strength of a two-run home run by shortstop Dan Norris and a homer by pitcher John Veach-Dixon, took a 6-2 lead into the sixth inning. But Hempfield East scored two runs in the sixth inning and six in the seventh. Walor's home run snapped a 6-6 tie.


"The offense has been solid all season," Hempfield East coach Scott Smith said. "Everyone is hitting, and every game it seems like a different player contributes. This team has a lot of character."


That was the case yesterday. Pat Costello opened the game with a home run. Casey Teagarden, Alex Naggy, Steve Bills and Pat Kohl each delivered clutch hits in the final two innings. Naggy, who earned the win in relief, shut down West Hempfield's offense over the final three innings. "This game is always big," Costello said. "It's like the Hempfield/Greensburg Salem rivalry. Most of us were teammates in high school, so it's a game for bragging rights. The games are usually competitive."

Stokes said he has to make sure the players don't get too pumped up over the game.

"I have to keep them in check," Stokes said. "I have to control their emotions."

Stokes admitted winning the division would have been nice, but reaching peak performance in the playoffs is what he wants.

"We had two good runs the past two seasons," Stokes said. "We're hoping we have another this year." Smith said this season has been his most enjoyable as a coach.

"The players are playing relaxed," he said. "We're getting great pitching and solid defense. The pitchers are giving us a chance to win." Naggy, Teagarden and Eric Bruno make up Hempfield East's staff. Bills has been solid behind the plate. "This team is having a lot of fun," Smith said. "The win proved to them that they are capable of coming from behind."

Hempfield East concludes the regular season Thursday at Greensburg and Saturday at Arnold.

Paul Schofield can be reached at or (724) 853-2109.