Blairsville and Bovard each breezed through semifinals and completed a three-game sweep at home Tuesday evening to advance to the Indiana County League championship series, which is set to begin at 5:45 p.m. Thursday at Blairsville.
The Colts, the regular-season champions, will be making their first appearance in the finals since 2003, while the two-time defending champion Bison will head to best-of-seven series for the fifth time in six years.
Blairsville topped West Lebanon and Bovard beat New Derry for the third straight day.
BLAIRSVILLE 5, WEST LEBANON 1: The Colts took advantage of two errors and a hit batsman in the fourth inning at One River Field to sew up their spot in the finals.
“I played on the 2003 team when we made it this far,” Blairsville player-manager Joe Culler said. “It’s been 10 years now, and there have been a lot of changes since then — a lot of new guys and new faces. This is good for the community. It could be our first-ever championship, and that’s really exciting.”
With Blairsville leading 1-0, Jordan Truscott started the the fourth with a single, and Bobby Thompson and Nick Draghi reached on errors. Truscott scored when Scott Harsh was hit by a pitch. Cory Manarelli singled in Thompson and Draghi, and Jarred Pennavaria drove in Manarelli to put the Colts up 5-0.
“I give West Lebanon a lot of credit,” Culler said. “They played us in some close games the last couple days. There are a lot of good things happening in the league and between these two teams right now. This rivalry is going to keep getting better in the next few years. I don’t want to look past this season, but I look forward to playing them in the future.”
West Lebanon (12-18-1) recorded its only run when Shane Wingard scored on an error in the sixth. Losing pitcher Tyler Beitel led West Lebanon with two hits.
Truscott had two hits for the Colts (25-5-1), and Steve Janik picked up the win with three strikeouts in six innings.
“I think once we realized how this season was going to go, winning the title was our goal,” Culler said. “Now, we’re only four games from that.”
BOVARD 5, NEW DERRY 2: Nick Fetterman went 3-for-4 with four RBIs to lift the Bison in Game 3 of their best-of-five semifinal series.
Bovard (23-4-1) plated three runs in the third and tacked on an insurance run in the fifth to put away New Derry (16-15).
Fetterman and Brad Walor each doubled for the Bison, and Scott Dixon and Ben Emminger hit doubles for New Derry, which finished with 11 hits.
Emminger finished with three hits, and Zack Martin added two.
Alex Nagy struck out two and walked one in four innings to earn the win.
John Santoro pitched five innings and took the loss.