Top-seeded Latrobe Legion opened the Westmoreland County American League Baseball (WCALB) playoffs with a strong 5-3 victory against No. 8 Mount Pleasant on Monday at Legion-Keener Field.
Latrobe entered the playoffs on a six-game losing streak — the last four games during a wooden bat baseball tournament this past weekend and two others previously in exhibition play versus Bedford — but the Jethawks continued their stellar play against WCALB competition.
Latrobe is now 17-13 overall this season, but the Jethawks grabbed the top spot in the WCALB playoffs with a 13-2 league record. Latrobe lost its first league game against rival Derry, 3-2, on June 15, but rattled off the next 12 straight, staying perfect against WCALB opponents for more than a month. That catapulted Latrobe to the top of the standings, as the Jethawks carried separate five and seven-game win streaks throughout the season, while outscoring WCALB opponents by a 114-53 margin.
The trend continued in the playoffs against Mount Pleasant on Monday where Latrobe opened with the first four runs of the game and an early 4-0 lead through three innings. Mount Pleasant made it interesting with two runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth, cutting the deficit to 4-3. But the Jethawks added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth to pick up the two-run victory and set the final.
Latrobe will have an opportunity to close out the best-of-three quarterfinal-round series during Game 2 tonight when the Jethawks visit Mount Pleasant, 5:30 p.m. at Mount Pleasant Area High School. Game 3 of the series, if necessary, takes place 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Legion-Keener Field. The WCALB best-of-three semifinals are currently scheduled to begin on Friday.
Ben Anderson led the charge for the Jethawks on Monday against Mount Pleasant with two singles and a run scored. Ben Rafferty tripled and scored, while Clay Petrosky and Vinny Amatucci both singled and crossed for Latrobe, which produced five runs on six hits.
Jake Bradish picked up the mound victory for Latrobe. He struck out six and walked one in six innings of work. Rafferty closed out the game and preserved the victory with three strikeouts in the top of the seventh. Rafferty’s strong seventh inning came after a 30-minute lightning delay, as he replaced Bradish by striking out three while allowing just one single to shut down Mount Pleasant’s comeback bid.
Joe Shrum and Jared Yester guided Mount Pleasant both with a single and a run scored. Asher O’Connor tripled and Jonas King also doubled for Mount Pleasant, which produced three runs on seven hits.
Jared Wagner suffered the loss, ending with three strikeouts and six walks in six innings.
A strong start helped carry Latrobe to victory on Monday.
Clay Petrosky drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a wild pitch in the bottom of the first. Logan Gustafson put down a sacrifice bunt, and an error plated Petrosky.
The Jethawks broke it open, 4-0, with a three-run third inning. Rafferty led off the third with a triple, and after Bradish was hit by a pitch, the Jethawks executed a double steal, plating Rafferty. Amatucci and Logan Short walked to load the bases, and Ethan Boring grounded out to score a run. Another crossed on a wild throw, giving Latrobe a four-run advantage.
Then, Mount Pleasant mounted a rally. With two outs, John Wagner singled, while Mike Noah and Anthony Govern were hit by pitches. O’Connor produced a two-run triple to cut Latrobe’s lead in half, 4-2.
Mount Pleasant scored a run in the sixth, as Shrum and Jerry Kitz singled. King’s RBI double made it a 4-3 game.
But the Jethawks got one back in the top of the seventh. Anderson led off with a single, and after a fly out and a ground out advanced him to second, Amatucci singled and Anderson scored on a wild throw to set the final.
Mount Pleasant Latrobe ab r h ab r h
Govern 3 0 0 Petrosky 2 1 1 O’Connor 4 0 1 Gustafson 3 0 0 Ja Wagner 3 0 0 Anderson 3 1 2 Williams 1 0 0 Rafferty 3 1 1 Shrum 3 1 1 Antus 0 0 0 Mason 0 0 0 Bradish 2 1 0 Basinger 0 0 0 Amatucci 3 1 1 Kitz 3 0 1 Short 3 0 1 Jones 3 0 0 Krinock 0 0 0 King 3 0 1 Boring 3 0 0 Jo Wagner 1 0 0 Dominick 2 0 0 Yester 1 1 1 Henry 0 0 0 Tait 1 0 1 Bleehash 0 0 0 Noah 1 1 0 King 0 0 0
Totals 27 3 7 Totals 24 5 6Mt. Pleasant 000 021 0 — 3 7 3Latrobe 103 001 0 — 5 6 1 Doubles: King (MP) Triples: Rafferty (L); O’Connor (MP) Strikeouts by: Bradish-6, Rafferty-3 (L); Wagner-3 (MP) Base on balls by: Bradish-1, Rafferty-0 (L); Wagner-6 (MP) Winning pitcher: Jake Bradish Losing pitcher: Jared Wagner