YOUTH LEGION: I-MEDICAL 11, S.W. JACK 3 -- I-Medical wins championship series opener
PUNXSUTAWNEY — Apparently top-seeded I-Medical needed a few innings to find its groove in Game 1 of the Indiana County Youth Legion baseball championship series with S.W. Jack.
In a rematch of last year’s western regional title game, twice-beaten I-Medical fell behind early but plated seven runs in the fourth inning and rolled over the third-seeded Black Sox, 11-3, on Thursday at Rich Kuntz Memorial Field.
The second game of the best-of-three championship series will take place at 6 p.m. today at Charlie Hogan Field at the White Township Recreation Complex.
“We’ve got a bunch of young kids on this team,” I-Medical manager Doug Pennington said. “We’ve got a few 15s and a 14 and the rest of them are 13 years old. We’ve been preaching all year that we need to be aggressive at the plate and be selective in certain situations. With base runners on, we want them picking a pitch they can drive and putting good wood on it. (I was) talking to (assistant coach) Doug Byers, (and told him), ‘We’ve been doing that the last four games, and that’s a positive thing.’”
The Black Sox got on the board first by plating three runs on three hits, two walks and an error in the top of the first inning against I-Medical ace Dakota Byers. Chase Kromer and Jason Harrington each smacked RBI singles, and Joe Wilson drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 3-0.
Tyler Richardson walked and then scored on an error in the bottom of the third to open the scoring for I-Medical and trim S.W. Jack’s lead to 3-1.
The following inning, I-Medical mounted a huge rally against S.W. Jack starter Cole Shaffer, erupting to score seven runs on four hits, three walks and three errors to take an 8-3 lead.
Brandon Douthit sparked the onslaught with a two-run single down the third-base line with the bases loaded to tie the game, 3-3.
Brandon Matthews added an RBI single, and John Serian drilled a two-run double.
“We’ve been playing great baseball, but we definitely fell in the tank there,” S.W. Jack manager Mitch Pacconi said. “The first three innings were good. We just fell in the tank. We started committing walks and errors. It got contagious fast.”
I-Medical tacked on three runs on two errors, two walks and a hit in the sixth to extend its lead to 11-3.
Winning pitcher Byers, meanwhile, allowed just two hits and two walks over his last five innings. He struck out six, walked four and allowed five hits.
Richardson struck out one, walked none and allowed no hits in one inning of relief.
“He threw like 70 pitches in the first three innings,” Pennington said of Byers. “But we talked to him in the dugout and he kind of gathered his composure and got back down to Earth, I guess. He came back in the last three innings and threw like 30-something pitches and was really effective. He got up around 100 pitches and that was enough, so we went with another guy. Everything just worked out for us tonight.”
Douthit, Matthews, Byers and Lance Pennington finished with two hits apiece.
Kromer led S.W. Jack by going 2-for-3.
Losing pitcher Shaffer struck out three, walked seven and surrendered eight hits in five innings.
“We can’t hang our heads,” Pacconi said. “We’ve just got to pick it up and come back stronger, play a better game.”