Last Updated: Wed Aug 03, 2022 - 12:55AM
When Murrysville dropped a heartbreaking extra-inning contest on the second day of pool play in the Junior American Legion Western Regional in late July, the Eagles were on the brink of their season. Murrysville rebounded with an impressive victory against Connellsville the next day, however, creating a three-way tie for first in the pool.
Initially, it appeared as though the Eagles would be eliminated via the tiebreaker, but upon further examination, Murrysville advanced to the third-place game to determine the final qualifier for the state tournament.
Murrysville made the most of that opportunity, as the Eagles advanced, and then went 5-0 in the state tournament, culminating with an 8-3 victory against Upper Perkiomen to claim the state title on Tuesday at First Commonwealth Bank Field in Homer City.
The victory marked the first state championship in Murrysville team history, and the second straight year a Westmoreland County team captured gold, as Penn-Trafford won the tournament last year.
“It was a great ride. The whole season was a great ride,” said Murrysville manager Bobby Saddler, who also guides the Franklin Regional varsity program. “Coaching these kids - it was such an honor, such a pleasure.”
After a rough start to the regular season, the Eagles found a rhythm, winning 13 of their final 14 contests, including the Westmoreland County Junior Legion title last month.
“We had some hiccups along the way. We learned from it. We grew together,” Saddler detailed.
The Eagles had few hiccups on Tuesday, however, defeating Connellsville via forfeit earlier in the day in the semifinals. Already staked to a 6-0 edge heading to the bottom of the third, Murrysville contested Connellsville’s use of an ineligible pitcher. The verdict resulted in the forfeit, sending the Eagles to the title game.
Playing against Murrysville for the second time in three days, Upper Perkiomen scored in the top of the first inning, as a walk, a two-base wild pitch, and an error accounted for the initial run.
Playing as the home team, Murrysville responded in the second, scoring twice. NJ Ramchandran started the surge with a one-out double, and he scored on a two-out single by Anthony DePaulo to deadlock the score. The Eagles took the lead on a subsequent single by Anthony Mitchell.
Murrysville added two more runs in the third, as Josh Hudak and Jonah Willochell provided RBI singles. The Eagles took complete command in the fourth, though, as they scored three times, highlighted by back-to-back doubles by Brady Yarabinetz and Hudak to gain a 7-1 edge. Three Upper Perk errors in the fifth allowed Murrysville to tack on another run.
That was plenty of run support for Hudak, who limited the Braves to just one run and one hit through the first five innings. Although he walked two batters in the sixth who both subsequently scored on a double by Evan Sands, Hudak earned the victory, and was also named the top hitter for the tournament, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs in the contest.
Additionally, Chase Lemke went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a steal, and he was named the overall MVP of the tournament, while Ramchandran, who worked two scoreless innings in the semifinals, was honored as the top pitcher.
Jack Schramm absorbed the loss on the mound for the Braves, while Owen Williams and Ryan Sink each posted a single and a walk for Upper Perkiomen.