Jeannette Senior Legion back on winning track
That's what they needed.
After an unorthodox two weeks during which the Jeannette senior American Legion baseball team played just one game — an ugly lopsided loss — the squad got back to its winning ways last week.
Jeannette took two of three games, evening its record at 5-5, giving the team more wins than it had all of last year and, most importantly, keeping the playoff hopes alive.
The team is thrilled to be back on the winning track, but they're not satisfied.
“It feels good to win two, but three of three would have been better,” said outfielder Brady Cameron, an 18-year-old who will play for Waynesburg College next year.
Cameron has been the top offensive producer for Jeannette this season, leading the team with a .353 average. As head coach Jules Ponterio explained, the team, overall, needs to up its offensive production during the season's home stretch.
“A little more offense to go with (the) pitching we have is key,” said Ponterio. “If we can get the offense going, then I think we'll be pretty tough to beat. “
Last Tuesday, Jeannette got revenge on Greensburg – the team which beat them 14-1 just three days earlier – by taking a 5-2 win.
“I was very confident we'd come back and beat them,” said Ponterio.
Rob Duffy struck out nine and allowed just four hits in seven innings on the mound. Dom Disso had the key hit of the game, a bases-clearing double, and finished with four RBIs.
On Thursday, Jeannette beat Derry 7-6 in dramatic fashion. The team jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but Derry came back to take a 6-5 lead in the sixth inning. But, in the bottom of the sixth, Jeannette scored two to reclaim the lead when Dom Disso and Rob Duffy collected RBIs.
That's all Garrett Elliott needed as he threw a clean seventh inning to seal the win. Overall, Jeannette had 11 hits, including three by Disso. Elliott struck out eight while tossing a complete game.
The winning streak ended Sunday when Jeannette fell to West Hempfield 4-2. Duffy and Nick Spankler combined to allow only two hits but they also combined to walk four and hit six batters.
“We just couldn't get the big hit today,” said Ponterio. “When you give up just two hits you've, got to win that game.”
Even with the loss, Ponterio is happy with the week overall.
“I'll take two-of-three in a week every time,” he said. “This week coming up is very important.”
Jeannette hosts Latrobe on Thursday, plays at Yough on Friday, hosts Mt. Pleasant on Saturday, then visit Unity on Sunday.
“They guys are confident,” said Ponterio. “They know it's a big week for us.”
Cameron said there's an added level of intensity around the team right now.
“I think we've all got that same focus for this upcoming week,” he said. “I think we've been playing pretty well all-in-all. I think we'll call come together and have a good week.”
Brian Knavish is a freelance writer.