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Krotec Comes Up Clutch, Hopewell Walks Off New Castle, 7-6

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Drama this afternoon at Joe Colella Field as the Hopewell Vikings responded like champions and made big plays in clutch situations to pull-out a 7-6 walk-off win over New Castle.

Hopewell was coming off of a 6-0 loss to Mohawk and for much of this afternoon, it looked as though they’d lose their second consecutive game.

However, the Vikings never stopped competing and a lineup full of players made big plays to keep them within striking distance before sophomore Kingston Krotec hit a 2-out, 2-run double in the bottom of the 7th inning to give Hopewell the victory.

Aside from Krotec, who had 2 hits on the day, some of the other unsung heroes this afternoon were Emmet McCowin, Jake Knobloch, Brody McCullough and Zach Gigliotti.

McCowin got the start and turned in an outstanding performance and did his job of keeping his team in the game.

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In the top of the 1st inning, the right-hander allowed one run on a sacrifice fly but struck out two batters. A big key with Emmet and the other Viking pitchers today was they came up big in key points of the game and never broke.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first, Hopewell quickly tied the game on a line drive RBI single by John Vescio, who scored Lucas Walton, who drew a walk to leadoff the game. Vescio collected 3 hits and a walk today and has been Hopewell’s best hitter to start the season.

In the top of the second, New Castle got a runner to second base, but McCowin got out of the inning clean. A big moment was when he recorded a strikeout with one out on a nasty curveball that froze the New Castle batter.

New Castle threatened again in the 3rd inning but couldn’t get a run in. With a runner at second base and 1 out, McCowin picked off the runner with a nice move and throw to Gigliotti and then ended the inning with another strikeout.

The Red Hurricanes got a big hit in the 4th inning as W. Warren hit the first pitch he saw from new Hopewell pitcher McCullough for a grand slam to right field. New Castle went on top 5-1. To Brody’s credit, he put that sequence behind him and moved on to the next hitter(s). Brody retired the next two hitters on a strikeout and a flyout to center field.

In the 5th inning with New Castle still leading 5-1, they appeared to be in position to break open the game with runners and 1st and 2nd and 0 out but McCullough picked off the New Castle runner at 2nd base. Another huge moment for Hopewell.

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After a New Castle walk with just 1 out, Hopewell manager Morgan Singletary went to his bullpen and brought in right-hander Jake Knobloch for his first appearance of the 2024 season. In arguably the turning point of the game, after allowing a hit to load the bases, Knobloch went on to strike out the next out the next two New Castle hitters to end the inning and their threat.

Down 5-1, Hopewell got one back in the 5th as Aaron Dickhart led off with a line drive double to left field and scored on an RBI groundout by Logan Triscila.

After New Castle added a run in the 6th inning to go up 6-2, Hopewell kept scrapping and added 2 runs the unconventional way, on a balk and a wild pitch to cut the New Castle lead to 6-4.

Here’s another sequence that you want to circle for Hopewell that was huge. New Castle got runners to 2nd and 3rd with 2 out and Coach Singletary went to his bullpen again and brought in Gigliotti to try and keep it a 2-run deficit. Singletary’s move paid off as Zach got the New Castle batter to fly out to Vescio in CF.

All this set up the dramatics in the last inning.

Leadoff hitter Lucas Walton led off with a single to right field. Next up, Gigliotti laced a double to center field, scoring Walton. New Castle now led just 6-5. Vescio came to the plate and laid down a bunt single to third, which moved Gigliotti to 3rd. Hopewell then loaded the bases with 0 outs, and it appeared as though the win was just a matter of time.

However, that’s not what happened as Hopewell lined into what appeared to be a heartbreaking double play to center field.

But as he seemingly always does in big moments, Krotec delivered and a laced a 2-out line drive double to right-center field which scored Gigliotti and Ben McDonald all the way from first base.

The first walk off win of the 2024 season and Hopewell improves their record to 2-1.

The Hopewell HS team is back in action next Tuesday as they’ll host Neshannock. First pitch is set for 4 PM.

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