Bushy Run completes sweep of Unity, advances to District 31 Legion finals
Drop by the field before a Bushy Run District 31 baseball game, and it sounds like a rock concert. Speakers blasting 80s music out of the home dugout have set the tone this season for Bushy Run.
Bushy Run didn’t need special effects for its stage show Saturday afternoon. The No. 2 seed in the District 31 postseason used rockets from the plate and firepower from the mound in a 9-0 victory over Unity in the semifinals.
“We pitched real well and played good defense again today,” Bushy Run coach Scott Peyman said. “You don’t lose if you don’t give up any runs.”
The win completes a two-game sweep over Unity (14-8) in the best-of-three series. Bushy Run (17-4) advances to its second District 31 finals in three seasons and will play top seed Hempfield East (19-2-1), which swept No. 4 Latrobe (12-9-1).
“For the last two games, we’ve struggled,” Unity coach Ed Guzik said. “For the first round of the playoffs, we had some big key hits and scored some runs.”
Bushy Run has outscored opponents 37-0 in the postseason. Despite the team’s production, Peyman thinks the bats are in a bit of a slump. Bushy Run’s pitching depth and defense have guided the team through four postseason games.
“Obviously, we held true to form today,” Peyman said.
Nursing a sore shoulder, Robert Kusinsky delivered a gem under sunny skies at Penn-Trafford High School. Kusinsky was efficient through five innings, giving up six hits and striking out three.
“It didn’t seem like a whole lot was working,” Kusinsky said. “I was a little wild, and usually I pound the zone. Towards the end, I was able to figure it out, use my fastball and keep them off-balance with my curveball.”
Maclean Maund broke the game open in the third inning to take the pressure off Kusinsky. With Mario Disso at second and Kusinsky on first, Maund sent a pitch from Unity starting pitcher Cole Novak deep over right fielder Isaac Echard’s head for a bases-clearing triple to give Bushy Run a 2-0 lead. Luke Fabac then hit a pop fly to shallow center field to score Maund and give Bushy Run a 3-0 lead.
“I knew I had runners on first and second and was just trying to get the ball into the outfield,” said Maund. “I knew first-pitch fastball was coming.”
With the help of a leadoff walk and few Bushy Run fielding errors, the Bulldogs loaded the bases in the top of the fourth inning. Three infield pop flies held runners at bay, and Kusinsky got out of the inning. The Bulldogs stranded seven runners.
“These guys just played better baseball than we did,” Guzik said. “We just couldn’t get a hit when we needed to. It was tough.”
Bushy Run went back to work at the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning. Brady Adamson singled down the right-field line, and Jordan Sabol reached base on a fielder’s choice before Cade Patterson’s two-run single. Kusinsky doubled to score Patterson, and Maund knocked in Kusinsky to extend Bushy Run’s lead to 7-0.
Pitcher Connor Bannias pitched the final two innings for Bushy Run.
The championship game is Tuesday. Bushy Run split the regular-season series with Hempfield East.
“They’re a great team,” Peyman said. “They are every bit as good as us, but I don’t think they’re better than us. It should be a great game.”
William Whalen is a freelance writer.