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Grapeville Station Little Leaguers earn section championship

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Seth Howard is focused as he winds up for a pitch in the World Series of Greensburg.
Drake Petrillo runs to third base.
Grapeville's Zack Burginc hits a pop-fly to center field in the World Series game.
PHOTOS: John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit
The 11- and 12-year-old team celebrates their section championship. In front, from left, are Matthew Pompei, Zack Berginc, Matteo Dalicandro, Gino Caesar and Dalton Gabler. In the second row are Drake Petrillo, Mark Urbanic, Nick Caesar, Seth Howard, Ricky Pitzer and Jason Cox. In back are coaches Rick Pitzer, Trevor Petrillo, Mike Pompei and Nick Caesar. Also on the team are Devon Houser, Dawson Sciarrino Cameron Felbaum and D. Carter.

Grapeville now has two things to brag about.

They have the coolest, purple fire truck of any local fire station and now they have a group of championship baseball players from Jeannette who were sponsored by Grapeville Station in a wildly successful 2013 season.

Grapeville Station, a group of 11- and 12-year-old Jeannette Little Leaguers coached by Mike Pompei, went 11-3 in their regular season games against other Westmoreland County Baseball Association teams from Jeannette, Delmont, Greensburg, South Greensburg and East Hempfield.

The team won the postseason playoff tournament to become WCBA champs and represented the WCBA in a one-game, “World Series” contest against the Maxwell Bulldogs out of the Hempfield Area Athletic Association.

A lot there to be proud of.

“I look for a group to adapt to instruction at the start of the year and progress and learn as a group,” said Pompei. “We started basic but you could really see how this group progressed, especially in the second half of the year.”

Grapeville Station entered the postseason tournament as one of the top seeds, but was knocked into the loser's bracket by the Greensburg Vipers. Jeannette survived the bracket to face Greensburg in the finals of the double-elimination tournament, but would have to beat them twice to win the WCBA championship.

Enter Seth Howard and Mark Urbanic.

The two Grapeville Station standouts pitched back-to-back gems and Jeannette dispatched Greensburg in two games, 6-1, and 7-1 respectively.

“It was stellar pitching,” said Pompei. “They were almost unhittable for two games.”

Jeannette went on to the “World Series” game against Maxwell last Saturday at Lynch Field in Greensburg. Maxwell won the game 7-4, but Grapeville Station was competitive throughout.

“We had base runners all game and had chances to tie the game,” said Pompei. “The season was so emotional that the two-week layoff may have hurt us a bit. The kids were not sure how to approach the game.”

The Maxwell loss notwithstanding, Grapeville Station can consider their 2013 campaign a definite success. Maybe they can coax a ride on the big purple truck through downtown Jeannette to celebrate the season?

Dave Moio is a contributing writer.

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