Jeannette Senior Legion off to hot start
The Jeannette Senior American Legion baseball team entered the week on a three-game winning streak. That's no typo.
After a win over East Hempfield on Sunday, Jeannette had a 3-2 overall record and was riding three straight wins, which is delightful but not surprising, explained head coach Jules Ponterio.
“This is a different Jeannette Legion team this year,” said Ponterio, who has been the program's head man for three seasons. “We have good players, and I knew they would start to gel.”
The early season success appears to be breading more success, explained Ponterio.
“We have a very confident coaching staff, and a very confident baseball team right now,” he said. “That's what I'm excited about.”
He said the players are feeling the excitement, but the optimism is tempered.
“We're off to a 3-2 start. It's a good record, but we don't want to get over emotional about 3-2 with a lot of baseball left,” he said.
Jeannette started the season with a 3-0 loss to Murrysville on May 28 and a 10-6 loss to Kiski on May 30, but Ponterio was not concerned with the 0-2 start.
“The kids had to get adjusted to each other, get adjusted to the new wooden bats and deal with a changing schedule because of the rain,” said Ponterio.
As the calendar turned to June, however, Jeannette started to click.
On Saturday afternoon, Jeannette beat Bushy Run 5-1 as Garret Elliott pitched a complete game, three-hitter. Tyler Stevenson and Brady Cameron each had two hits.
The early season highlight came later that night when Jeannette beat Murrysville 2-1 in extra innings. Rob Duffy had a no-hitter going into the seven inning before yielding a double.
Duffy then helped to break a 1-1 tie as he singled home Brandon Gernhardt in the bottom of the eighth inning to spark the win.
The streak continued on Sunday with the 9-4 win over East Hempfield, Jeannette's third game in just over 24 hours. Jeannette smacked 11 hits in the win.
“The bats came alive,” said Ponterio. “We hit the ball all over the place.”
Stevenson, Cameron, Dom Disso, Dillon Sabo and Ricky DeMark each had two hits. Nick Spankler gave a solid start on the mound, yielding four hits and two earned run in five innings.
“The nice thing about this is these teams that we are beating, we haven't beaten them before (in the three years that I've been coach),” he said.
“We've seen a lot of the better teams in the league, and we definitely play with them.”
Ponterio is confident that the quality play will not only continue but also improve.
“Our pitching has been good, and now we're putting our hitting shoes on,” said Ponterio.
“We could be very tough to beat when we get it all going.”
Jeannette will host Greensburg on June 15.
Brian Knavish is a freelance writer.