Penn Hills Junior Legion struggles through regular season
After finishing second in the Westmoreland County Youth Legion North Division last year, the Penn Hills Baseball Association Junior Legion team struggled this season as only a handful of players returned from last year’s team.
Penn Hills finished the regular season 4-12 and was outscored 112-58 by its opponents in 16 regular-season games.
After losing the first four games, Penn Hills defeated Lower Burrell, 8-5, on June 3. Penn Hills snapped a two-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over Kiski on June 12 to improve to 2-6.
Penn Hills then lost three games in a row before winning two of its final four games: defeating Riverview, 8-4, on June 27 and Baldwin, 5-3, on June 29.
“Last year’s Junior Legion team was a decent team that Mike DeVito had, and we lost a lot of older kids. Our expectations were to be competitive and go from there. We wanted to try to surprise some people,” coach Jon Williams said. “I know the record isn’t great, but I’m happy with the progress the kids showed and how much effort they put into this season.”
Williams said his young team couldn’t get all three phases of the game going on a consistent basis.
“We can play with anybody if we would have everything play together,” Williams said.
This season, Penn Hills was led by three returning players — Brandon Tierney, Jordan Sullivan and Dom Sullivan — as well as Dylan Croyle.
Penn Hills won back-to-back 1-0 games against Baldwin in the opening series of the consolation tournament. In the first game July 8, Dom Sullivan had a walk-off hit in the eighth inning and pitched well.
Jordan Sullivan and Tierney led Penn Hills in Game 2 with strong performances on the mound, and the defense didn’t commit any errors.
“Those two games showed how good our pitching can be with solid defense. We got clutch hits when we needed it,” Williams said.
Williams and Owen Weston took over for DeVito this season. Williams was excited for the challenge.
“They were together for quite some time,” Williams said. “They were successful at the Pony level and younger ages as well. It was tough to follow him, but I’m happy with how the kids played.”
Heading into the consolation championship series against Ligonier, Tierney led Penn Hills with a .484 batting average, and Jordan Sullivan hit .347 batting with four doubles, and Dom Sullivan hit .324 with four doubles.
On the mound, Dom Sullivan led the staff with a 0.84 ERA, and Tierney posted a 2.57 ERA. Jordan Sullivan had a 3.86 ERA, and Dylan Croyle had a 4.03 ERA heading into the final series of the season.
Even though Penn Hills didn’t have a winning record in the regular season, Williams is hoped to end on a positive note as the team competed against Ligonier in the consolation championship best-of-three series July 11. The results of the series weren’t available as of publication time.
“It allows them to get some extra games in for these games and to have that sense of accomplishment as well,” Williams said. “We are looking to get better every day and to take it into high school and fall ball.”