Kiski Valley topples Latrobe for District 31 Legion title
Kiski Valley left no doubt Wednesday who was the best team in the District 31 American Legion League.
After not being awarded the District 31 regular-season title despite having the best record, Kiski Valley pounded out 20 hits and defeated regular-season champion Latrobe, 15-5, in a nine-inning affair at Legion-Keener Field in Latrobe.
It was the third time this season Kiski Valley, which was playing in the championship game for the first time since 2008, defeated the Jethawks.
Latrobe, which finished the regular season 17-5, was awarded the title on a points system. Kiski Valley finished 17-4-1, but two of its wins were by forfeit.
But according to the league scoring system, a team receives a point for games played. Latrobe was able to play every league game and was awarded 22 points, while Kiski Valley received only 20 points because of the forfeits.
“We really didn't use that as motivation,” Kiski Valley manager Dave Montgomery said. “Sure, we would have liked to have been home, but we play better on the road. We stunk at home in losses to West Hempfield and Murrysville, but played well away.”
Montgomery didn't waste any time pulling starting pitcher Andy Fennell when he struggled in the second inning. His move of putting Anthony Falsetti in the game proved to be the difference.
After Latrobe took a 3-2 lead, Falsetti came in and calmed things down and allowed his teammates to catch up and pass Latrobe.
“I knew I was probably going to see some relief action, but I didn't expect to be in the game in the second inning,” Falsetti said. “I just came in and knew I had to throw strikes. My teammates made the plays behind me.”
Montgomery said Falsetti ended up throwing 118 pitches.
“We hit the ball, but Anthony's performance is the story of the game,” Montgomery said. “He did a heck of a job.”
Kiski Valley tied the score at 3 in the fourth on Nevin DeCroo's two-out triple. Then it took the lead for good in the fifth by scoring four times.
Josh Beale, who went 3 for 5 with three RBIs, got things going with an RBI single to score Jordan Weaver. When the ball was booted in left field, J.J. Brestensky scored from first base.
“We're a confident group,” Beale said. “We had a good approach at the plate and Anthony did a fantastic job.”
Tyler Grosholz, Weaver, Brestensky and Beale each had three hits for Kiski Valley. Every Kiski Valley starter had at least one hit. Weaver, Tyler Alworth and Frank Stefko each had two RBIs.
“The better team won the game,” Latrobe manager Jason Bush said. “They beat us in every phase of the game. We had opportunities to tack on runs early and didn't get it done.”
Latrobe stranded 11 runners. Kiski stranded 15.
“We strive to get big innings,” Bush said. “We just didn't get a key hit when we needed.”
Tyler Roble had two hits and two RBIs for Latrobe.
Both teams advance to the Region 7 tournament, starting Saturday in Bedford. Kiski Valley will face the Indiana County runner-up, either Punxsutawney or Young Township. Latrobe faces the Central Penn champion, either Beech Creek or State College.
• In the Westmoreland County Junior Legion championship series, Shane Stuchell pitched all seven innings as Hempfield East evened its best-of-three series 1-1 with PAL after a 10-2 win. Josh Barth had two doubles for Hempfield East. Game 3 will be played at 8 p.m. Thursday at PAL.