Hall 2A baseball regional: Hall 8, Princeton 5
SPRING VALLEY — The Hall Red Devils began their defense of their state championship, defeating rival Princeton 8-5 in 2A regional semifinal play at Kirby Park Wednesday.
The Red Devils (22-6) scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning and got a three-run home run by sophomore Ty Rybarczyk in the fourth inning to advance to Saturday’s title game against Riverdale at 11 a.m. The Rams beat Putnam County 9-2 in the nightcap.
“We’re going one game at a time. See how many one-game winning streaks we can get,” Hall coach Tom Keegan said.
The Tigers (11-9), who lost to the Red Devils in two previous regional meetings, got off to an inauspicious start after Jimmy DeAngelo’s leadoff triple off the center-field fence.
They dropped one pop-up in the infield and allowed another pop-up to short right field to fall in safely. Hall took full advantage, scoring four runs, including a base hit up the middle by Rybarczyk, a squeeze bunt by birthday boy Brayden DeBates and a wild pitch.
“We dug ourselves in a hole that first inning,” PHS coach Wick Warren said. “We catch those pop-ups, no telling what happens. Could be one run, could be no runs. We didn’t catch it, they turned it into four runs. That set the tone.”
“Just gives you a chance to exhale a little bit,” Keegan said of the 4-0 lead. “Fortunate enough, maybe they lost a couple up there in the sun, and we were able to capitalize on that and get some guys to touch the plate.”
Rybarczyk knocked out PHS freshman southpaw Ean Compton with a drive that just sneaked over the left-field fence for a 3-run homer to make it 8-0 Red Devils.
“Yeah, it felt good. I knew it had chance when it came off the barrel,” Rybarczyk said. “We came out hot and then kind of cooled down. I hit that home run and kind of picked it back up a little.”
The Tigers, who played Hall to a 2-1 regional finals game last year, showed some fight.
They cut into the Hall lead with two runs in the fifth on an RBI triple by Noah Atkinson and a hit by Caleb Alter to make it 8-2.
That new life carried over into the sixth inning with the Tigers scoring three more runs. Freshman Bennett Sierens hit a two-run double and Atkinson bunted home Beck Robbins to make it 8-5.
DeAngelo escaped further trouble when Compton was thrown out stealing by Rybarczyk, and Jacob Starr fanned to end the inning.
“I was getting tired. That’s on me. I didn’t hydrate enough. Won’t happen again,” DeAngelo said.
“Fortunately we had just enough room to work with it. Otherwise it was going to be really tight,” Keegan said. “Fatigue was a factor (for DeAngelo). They earned what they got and squared some balls up.”
Rybarczyk stepped out from behind the plate to the mound to relieve DeAngelo and struck out the side.
“I was just thinking, get three outs and get out of there,” Rybarczyk said.
“Trez had his hands on everything,” Keegan said. “Not only did he have a two-out, three-run bomb, but also him in the sixth inning hosing that kid (Compton) at second base was huge. Just allowed Jimmy to shorten that inning as much as possible and then he came in and shut it down.”
Warren said it’s not necessarily getting old facing Hall in the regionals, he would just like to change the outcome.
“I’d play them every year. This is great competition. I don’t like to lose, but they’re a good team and you want to play the best,” he said. “One of these days, we’re going to beat them.”
Payton Plym had three hits and DeAngelo two for the Red Devils.
Owen Rossler went 3-3 for Princeton.
• Notes: The Red Devils will seek their third straight regional championship against Riverdale Saturday. Riverdale beat Hall 10-0 April 17 behind pitcher Noah Tackett. He was the starting and winning pitcher in the Rams’ win over PC and won’t be available Saturday.