Jeannette senior Legion falls in 3 games
The historic season for the Jeannette senior American Legion baseball team culminated in the team's first playoff appearance in 14 years.
But, unfortunately for local baseball fans, Jeannette fell in three games in a best-of-three series against East Hempfield in the first round of the playoffs last week to conclude the very memorable season.
“Our kids played tough,” said head coach Jules Ponterio. “I'm proud of them.”
The series opened on July 8 and Jeannette suffered a 4-1 loss. The game was tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning when East Hempfield scored three runs to take a permanent lead.
Rob Duffy started on the mound for Jeannette and pitched a complete game, allowing just five hits.
“He pitched a good game for us,” said Ponterio. “He kept us in the game. As has been our Achilles heel for us all year, we couldn't get the big hit. We had runners in scoring position and stranded them.”
Overall, Jeannette out-hit East Hempfield in the game 6-5. Jeannette got its lone run when Brady Cameron singled, stole second and ultimately scored on a Garrett Elliott infield hit.
On July 2, Jeannette took game two 4-3 in a game local baseball fans will not soon forget.
“In the three years I've been back involved with Legion, that was, by far, the most exciting gave I've coached,” said Ponterio.
East Hempfield jumped out to a 1-0 first inning lead. In the fourth inning, two Jeannette runners reached on back-to-back errors and they scored on singles by Ricky DeMark and Nick Spangler, putting Jeannette up by a run.
East Hempfield came back to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth, eventually forcing extra innings.
Jeannette would fall behind 3-2 in the top of the ninth, making the outlook quite grim. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, DeMark singled to start a rally.
Spangler sacrificed him to second, and Dillon Sabo brought him home with a grounder to tie the game.
Cameron singled, stole second and reached third on an error. Adam Shorthouse then singled him home to secure the dramatic walk-off win.
Elliott pitched all nine innings and was “incredible,” according to Ponterio.
That forced a game three on July 10, but East Hempfield would take that game — and the series — with a 4-0 win. Jeannette managed just four hits in the loss.
“I tip my cap to East Hempfield,” said Ponterio. “They played us tough, we played them tough. They beat us twice in the regular season, we beat them twice, but they just took two of three in the playoffs.
“I'm proud of my kids. We gave them everything they could handle. If we hit a little more, we could have won the series.”
Jeannette finished with an overall record of 9-11.
Brian Knavish is a freelance writer.