YOUTH LEGION: I-Medical ousted from regional tourney
I-Medical pitchers Joey DiPietro and Dylan Huey pitched gems in their team’s two most important games of the season Monday at Rich Kuntz Memorial Field.
Sadly for the Punxsutawney-based team, which had goals of reaching the state tournament for the second time in three years, it couldn’t match the handful of pivotal plays its opponents made over the course of those games.
Austin Butler’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning propelled Hempfield East to a 2-1 win over I-Medical in a winners’ bracket game in the Pennsylvania Youth American Legion Western Regional Tournament.
Later in the day, I-Medical outhit Norwin PAL 8-6 but committed four costly errors and allowed five runs in the last two innings to suffer a 5-1 loss in an elimination game.
Albion scored an 11-1 win over Farmington in an elimination game earlier in the day. The winners’ bracket game between Hempfield East and Albion that was scheduled to be played at 7 p.m. Monday was postponed and scheduled for today at 1 p.m.
The top three teams in the double-elimination tournament advance to the five-day Pennsylvania Youth American Legion state championships, which begin Saturday in Freemansburg.
In the winners’ bracket game, Hempfield East’s Butler drove in the game-winning run with the game tied 1-1 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.
With Zack Kokoska on third, Butler smacked a slow liner between I-Medical second baseman Isaac Stouffer and first baseman Trent Stouffer. Isaac Stouffer extended himself in midair in an attempt to snag the ball and end the inning. However, Butler’s liner bounced in and out of Stouffer’s glove, and the ball hit the ground, allowing Koskoska to score the game-winning run.
“That was a heck of an effort,” first-year I-Medical coach Joe DiPietro said. “He (Stouffer) had made a good play earlier in the game to save a run, and on that play, he was completely laid out. He was parallel with the ground (and) diving. The ball was in the webbing of his glove. It just didn’t stick, but it was a fantastic effort out of a 13-year-old ball player.”
Jacob Rife put Hempfield East on the board first when he ripped an RBI single in the bottom of the first to score Kokoska.
Lucas Ambler drilled an RBI double in the top of the sixth that plated Dylan Huey to tie the game, 1-1.
Hempfield East ace Zayne Zalich surrendered no runs and no hits in the last two innings to preserve the win.
Hempfield East scattered seven hits, and I-Medical mustered just three hits, a single from Tyler Richardson and doubles from Ambler and Huey. Both teams stranded eight runners.
Joe DiPietro talked about coaching in arguably the most captivating game of the tournament against Westmoreland County regular-season champ Hempfield East.
“I have coached from the Little League level to the high school level in the last 20 years and that was one of the, if not the, best baseball games I’ve ever been a part of,” DiPietro said. “It was fun to watch, it was fun to be a part of, it was a fantastic effort on both sides. It was a shame somebody had to lose it, actually.”
DiPietro struck out three and walked four in a complete-game losing effort.
In the first five innings of the elimination game, starters Huey and Luke Whalen of Norwin PAL engaged in a pitchers’ duel. Huey and Whalen each allowed three hits in that span, and neither pitcher surrendered a run.
But when Huey began to fade early in the top of the sixth, Norwin PAL’s Alex Sinegra and Ryan Anselmino capitalized on his brief lapse by hitting back-to-back base hits.
Two batters later, I-Medical’s Stouffer made a diving play on a ground ball from Alex Sinegra. Stouffer’s throw, however, bounced past first baseman Trent Stouffer, allowing Sinegra and Anselmino to score to make it a 2-0 game.
Norwin PAL plated three more runs on two errors, two walks and a base hit in the next inning to stretch its lead to 5-0.
I-Medical scored its lone run on DiPietro’s RBI single that scored Sam Gigliotti in the bottom of the seventh.
“We came out hitting, but everything seemed to go right at them, so we had to adjust,” Norwin PAL coach Kenny Lindsay said. “Luckily our pitching and defense was there because both pitchers threw phenomenal games. That was one of the best games I’ve seen, but we finally got that little boost there with the couple errors and the walks, and that was the difference.”
Huey tossed a six-hitter. He fanned three, walked four and allowed one earned run.
Caleb Smith and DiPietro each singled twice to pace I-Medical.