Last Updated: Thu Aug 04, 2022 - 3:31AM
A year ago, Penn-Trafford defeated Connellsville all three times that the teams met with a title at stake. On Monday, Connellsville exacted a measure of revenge, edging the Warriors 4-2 to secure the Junior American Legion Western Regional Championship at First Commonwealth Bank Field in Homer City.
Connellsville pitcher Mason Miller carried a shutout into the seventh inning, while Connellsville’s offense capitalized on several Warriors’ miscues. Both teams, along with third-place Murrysville, advance to the state championship tournament, which will also be held in Homer City this upcoming weekend.
Playing as the visitors, Connellsville scored a run in the top of the first inning, as Jonathan Kelly drew a one-out walk, moved to second on a passed ball, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a subsequent throwing error by PT catcher Brandon Long.
That accounted for the only run until the fifth inning, as both Miller and Penn-Trafford pitcher Johnny Lovre posted zeros. Miller cruised through the first three frames, but he ran into jeopardy in the bottom of the fourth, as PT loaded the bases. Lovre opened the inning by drawing a walk, and after a popout, Bryce Ruby and Logan Matrisch provided back-to-back singles. Miller induced a popout against Evan Gross, though, and then retired Long on a flyout to strand the bases loaded.
Meanwhile, Lovre showed his penchant to strand runners, escaping jams with a pair of runners on in each the third and fourth innings.
Connellsville broke through in the fifth, though, scoring three crucial insurance runs. Kelly led off with a walk, Alex Vansickle was hit by a pitch, and Matt Firestone reached on a bunt when the Warriors did not have a player covering first base. After Lovre notched a strikeout, Luke Puskar hit a ground ball on the infield, but the ball was jarred loose from Long’s glove on the play at the plate, allowing Kelly to score. The next batter, Chase Sankovich, hit a sacrifice fly to shallow center that plated Vansickle, and a subsequent throwing error on the play allowed Firestone to score, as well, making it 4-0.
Those insurance runs proved vital, as the Warriors finally found success against Miller in the bottom of the seventh. Long drew a one-out walk, and Braden Kane, who relieved Lovre on the mound earlier, blasted an RBI triple. Damian Metcalfe followed with an RBI single to make it 4-2, prompting Connellsville to call upon Kelly out of the pen. He retired the first two batters he faced to seal the outcome and earn the save.
In addition to his work on the mound, Kelly walked three times, scored twice, and added two steals, while Firestone was 2-4 with a run scored. For Penn-Trafford, Septak was 2-4, while Long drew a pair of walks.
Murrysville 8 Wesleyville 0 (Third Place Consolation)
Murrysville will play in the Junior Legion State Tournament after blanking Wesleyville 8-0 in the third place consolation game at First Commonwealth Field in Homer City. Josh Hudak struck out 15 batters in a complete game shutout. He yielded just three hits.