Bushy Run tops Murrysville, moves into first place
The Bushy Run and Murrysville Senior Legion teams put together an impressive offensive display in the first two innings of their game Sunday, combining for 13 runs in the two frames.
After that, the fireworks stopped — but only for one team.
Bushy Run outscored Murrysville, 9-1, over the final five innings to come away with a 16-7 victory Sunday afternoon at Haymaker Park. It marked the fourth victory in a row for Bushy Run (4-2) after the team began the summer by losing its first two games.
“I think as the heat of the summer comes, we've started to heat up with the bats a little bit,” Bushy Run coach Frank Pecora said. “They're playing well right now.”
The offensive onslaught began in the top of the first inning. A borderline pitch with two strikes and two outs that was called a ball came back to haunt Murrysville, as Bushy Run ended up scoring five runs on a bases-loaded walk by Tyler Smith, a bases-clearing single by Bill Dugan and a run-scoring single by Jake Morain.
“That's a game-changer right there,” Murrysville coach Gus Bondi said of the close pitch, which came with a 1-2 count against Smith. “The umpire called it a ball. It is what it is. That pitch goes the other way, it's a different game.”
Murrysville scored three runs of its own in the bottom of the first, as Nick Munson doubled in two runs and Harrison Thatcher came through with a sacrifice fly.
Bushy Run scored twice more in the second on a two-run single by Shane Churma, but Murrysville tightened the score to 7-6 in the bottom of the frame on a wild pitch, sacrifice fly and RBI single.
Churma came in to pitch for Bushy Run in the third inning and limited Murrysville to one run on three hits over the final five innings.
“I just tried throwing to contact the whole time and (getting) groundball outs,” Churma said.
Murrysville starter Anthony Falce, typically one of the team's top starters, struggled, allowing 12 runs to score in his five innings of work. He threw 112 pitches.
“(Bushy Run) hit the ball,” Bondi said. “You've got to give them credit. They put wood to the baseball. They're a good-hitting team. Anthony was probably not as sharp as I've seen him, but he battled and he pitched through it. At the end of the day, though, they made more plays than we did — pure and simple.”
The teams ended up combining for 23 runs on 22 hits and 19 walks. Bushy Run scored in every inning except for the fourth and surpassed 10 runs for the fourth game in a row.
“We just found a lot of holes today,” Churma said. “It was a good day for us all-around. We know we can do it any day, and today it showed up.”
Murrysville fell to 5-4 on the season after another loss Monday, 1-0 against Hempfield East at Pitt-Greensburg. The team was scheduled to host West Hempfield on Wednesday, past the deadline for this week's edition.
Despite the loss, Bondi said he felt good about his team's early-season performance. He said the Westmoreland County Legion season is shaping up to be a competitive one, as Murrysville trails Bushy Run by a half-game in the Northern Division.
“The teams are very competitive,” Bondi said. “I haven't seen a team yet that I would consider weak. It's essentially varsity baseball. You're going to see varsity pitchers, you're going to see varsity hitters, and that's what we want — to see the best competition we can.”
Bushy Run, meanwhile, was scheduled to host Greensburg on Tuesday, past the deadline for this week's edition. The team was scheduled to travel to Kiski Valley on Wednesday.
“All the teams in this league are pretty equal,” Pecora said. “You've just got to make the plays when you've got the chance, (and) you've got to have clutch hitting and pitching. When you do, you're going to win ballgames. Everybody's pretty equal, but it's nice to be in the position we're at right now.”