YOUTH LEGION BASEBALL: S.W. Jack loses momentum in regional
CENTER TOWNSHIP — For good reason, playing two games several hours apart in one day concerned longtime S.W. Jack manager Mitch Pacconi.
Roughly six hours after blowing out Meyersdale in their opening-round game, the Black Sox came out flat against Hempfield East in the nightcap, surrendering seven runs in the first inning en route to a 14-4 loss in a winners’ bracket game of the Pennsylvania Youth American Legion Western Regional baseball tournament Sunday at First Commonwealth Field.
Defending tournament champ S.W. Jack pummeled Meyersdale, 19-1, in its opening-round game. The game, postponed Saturday due to rain, was shortened to five innings due to the mercy rule.
The Black Sox take on I-Medical in an elimination game today at 5 p.m.
“I was worried about this second game,” Pacconi said. “We played early in the day at 2:30, but Hempfield was well-rested. We had to come out and play again after the kids were out running around and wasting energy. I think it showed.”
Westmoreland County runner-up Hempfield East, which played only one game Sunday, erupted to score seven runs on four errors, two walks, a hit and a hit batsman in the bottom of the second to take a 7-2 lead. Hempfield East extended its lead to 14-4 and enforced the mercy rule in the bottom of the fifth by adding four runs on three hits and three walks.
“You just can’t make those kind of errors in a game like this,” Pacconi said. “But everything went against us, too. We had some chances to get back in the game, but we hit the ball right at them just about every time. They made the plays, though. I think they only had two errors. That was probably the biggest difference.”
Zach Schultz finished 2-for-2 with a double to lead S.W. Jack. Schultz, the losing pitcher, struck out nine and walked four in three innings.
The Black Sox jumped on Meyersdale early and never let off the accelerator, amassing a tournament-best 14 hits to earn a lopsided win.
S.W. Jack built on its early lead and scored 12 runs on eight hits, four walks and an error in the top of the second to go up15-0. Jacob Kelly and Bobby Bell each ripped a two-run single to fuel the rally.
“They hit the ball and put it in play,” Meyersdale manager Pat Woy said. “They also had very few strikeouts. Any time you can put the ball in play that much and avoid striking out, good things are usually going to happen.”
Cole Shaffer finished 3-for-3 with a double and five runs scored to power S.W. Jack. Schultz went 3-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored, Ryan Palmer singled twice and drove in three runs, and Bell singled and drove in three runs. Kelly and Rece Dean each singled and drove in two runs, Yard singled twice and drove in a run, and Chase Kromer singled, scored three runs and drove in a run.
Tanner Yard and Joe Wilson teamed up to toss a one-hitter for S.W. Jack. Yard struck out two, walked one and allowed one hit, and Wilson struck out three, walked none and did not allow a hit.
“That’s how we wanted to start,” Pacconi said. “I didn’t expect to blow them out that bad, but I knew our top five batters were going to hit the ball hard. We have a handful of kids who’ve been here before, and that makes a big difference. I don’t think anybody is going to shut us down here.”