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 Kiski Valley Holds Off West Hempfield

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By Keith Barnes
Tuesday, July 17, 2007


West Hempfield was the only underdog to force a deciding third game during the opening round of the District 31 American Legion playoffs. 

Its opponent, second-seeded Kiski Valley, made sure that West Hempfield's chance at becoming a Cinderella story ended Monday evening at Laube Field in Freeport. 

Kiski Valley scored two runs in the bottom of the first and staved off two West Hempfield comeback attempts, as the Vikings moved into the second round with a 4-2 win in the game and a 2-1 victory in the series. 

"We played a real good game (Sunday), and we just didn't get the big hit when we needed it (yesterday)," West Hempfield coach Bob Stokes said. "We played such good solid defense and a 15-year-old kid (Alex Haines) pitched his heart out on the mound. I don't know what to say." 

Kiski Valley pitcher J.P. Samay didn't allow West Hempfield to generate any offense or come up with clutch hits. In fact, he barely let West Hempfield get any hits at all.  Samay was dominant through the first four innings.

He did not surrender a hit and allowed only one base runner on a one-out walk to John Veach-Dixon -- whom he quickly picked off of first base -- and faced the minimum 12 batters, striking out six. 

"It's kind of been his history of five solid innings and then he starts to tire a little, and you start to see the ball come up, but I really didn't see that here," Kiski Valley coach Dave Montgomery said.

"He basically took the team on his back and said, 'Ride on, I'm going to carry you,' and thank goodness he did."  Because Samay only faced the minimum 12 batters in four innings, he had only thrown 42 pitches up to that time, which kept his arm fresh for the stretch run of the game.

West Hempfield got its second base runner of the game in the top of the fifth when Bryan Morrison reached on an error and Veach-Dixon made up for getting picked off by lining a single up the middle to break up the no-hit bid. 

"We had him earlier this year and we hit him pretty decent," Stokes said. "I though for sure we'd get at him and, even though he had a no-hitter through four, I knew we'd get to him because we got to him last time." 

After Veach-Dixon's single, both runners moved up a base on an error and West Hempfield had the tying run in scoring position with none out. But Morrison was caught in a rundown between third and home after a botched squeeze bunt and West Hempfield had to settle for a ground out from the pitcher Haines that scored Veach-Dixon and cut the Kiski Valley lead to 2-1. 

"Any time we have that situation I like to squeeze," Stokes said. "The coach made a bad call, and we just needed a big hit."  While West Hempfield was searching for someone to come through in the clutch, Kiski Valley found a way to answer every time its opponent scored.

The Vikings picked up a run in the bottom of the fifth on Samay's single that scored Tyler Garrone and, after West Hempfield again cut it to one in the sixth on Morrison's infield RBI single, Justin Colamarino got it back when he scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch by Haines. 

"We have this habit of scoring early and then we coast," Montgomery said. "J.P. not only pitched a great game, but that single that put us up 3-1 was huge at that time."  Kiski Valley will open its second round series tonight at Laube Field against Latrobe.

"There's no way to get ready for them, especially after the rain out on Friday," Montogomery said. "We played them once and they're good. They're very good."