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Young Murrysville Junior Legion team aims for success

| Monday, June 19, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

The Murrysville Junior Legion baseball team is one of the younger squads in the Westmoreland County Youth Legion league, but coach Chas Brncic hopes it can be in the mix for a playoff spot at the end of the regular season.

Murrysville is 5-7 and in second place in the North Division behind one-loss Penn Township (9-1).

“We've been up and down like you would expect a young team to be adjusting to the wooden-bat league,” he said. “You have to have a different approach to hitting with a wooden bat. You're not going to crush the ball as much as with a composite or metal bat.”

Murrysville was scheduled to host Monroeville on Tuesday at Haymaker Field and then travel to play Monroeville at Gateway High School on Wednesday. The games, which were to be completed past the deadline for this week's edition, were to be its first on the field since an 11-9 home loss to Lower Burrell on June 9.

Murrysville picked up a forfeit victory over Mt. Pleasant on June 12.

The top four teams in each of the league's two divisions make the playoffs. Brncic said his team is in a playoff race with Lower Burrell, Kiski, Plum and Monroeville.

Murrysville has lost two games by one run and another game by two runs.

“There's a lot of good competition with older lineups,” Brncic said. “Monroeville and Penn Township both have older teams. We have some good pitching, so we can do some damage if we can get in. We want to be in the playoff mix at the end.”

To do that, Brncic said, consistency in the field, on the mound and at the plate will be the key, . He said there have been games where players are at different positions than the ones to which they normally are accustomed.

Murrysville started with a roster of 14, and one player has been out of the lineup with a broken hand.

The team played with only nine against Lower Burrell because of vacations and other commitments. It trailed 11-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh before rallying for six runs.

Murrysville had the bases loaded with two outs but was unable to score any more runs before.

“It was all hands on deck with just the nine guys. We gave up five or six runs early without Lower Burrell getting a really hard-hit ball,” Brncic said.

“We just got behind the 8-ball. We battled back. They took their foot off the gas, and we stayed in it. I am proud of them for not giving up. That's all a part of the learning process.”

Of the 14 players on the roster, five are only 13 years old. There are three that are age 15 — Danny DalCanton, Johnny O'Toole and Jack Hanlon — and all three are double rostered to the Senior Legion team.

“It's nice to see them get some extra work up there,” Brncic said.

Brncic said 10 of the 14 players also played for the Franklin Regional freshman or JV teams. While those spring seasons were progressing and with the weather not cooperating some days, there weren't many opportunities to practice before the season began May 15.

The 18-game regular season ends July 3.

“We're having fun and getting better,” Brncic said. “I like our effort.”

In addition to DalCanton, O'Toole and Hanlon, team members are: Joey Alisesky, Nick Bertucci, Trevor Brncic, Jeffrey Downs, David Franco, Gunner Fulton, Connor Helm, Michael Marcinizyn, Anderson Petrazzi, Brian Pirone and Luke Treloar.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.

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