PUNXSUTAWNEY — I-Medical manager Doug Pennington looked downright prophetic following Game 3 of the best-of-three Indiana County Youth Legion baseball championship series Saturday at Rich Kuntz Memorial Field.
A day after Pennington predicted that his team would coolly bounce back from Friday’s 12-2 loss against third-seeded S.W. Jack, top-seeded I-Medical did just that, plating 13 of the game’s last 15 runs to thump the Black Sox, 15-5, for its second straight league title. The game was shortened to six innings due to the mercy rule.
S.W. Jack (18-7) and I-Medical (22-3) each advanced to the Pennsylvania Youth American Legion Western Regional tournament, which will begin July 27 at First Commonwealth Field in Homer City.
The Black Sox defeated I-Medical, 9-3, in the western regional title game last year.
“They responded just as they have all year long,” Pennington said. “I’m very pleased and proud of them. They worked hard to get here, and they really do deserve this. We were the better team today.”
“It’s unreal that all three games were like that,” S.W. Jack manager Mitch Pacconi added. “I thought today was going to be like a one- or two-run game, and it was for a while, until everything fell apart for us.”
I-Medical took its first lead of the game when it plated three runs on three hits in the bottom of the third to take a 5-3 edge.
Two innings later, I-Medical stretched its lead to 7-3 by scoring two runs on a hit, two walks and a hit batsman. Brandon Douthit stroked a two-run double into the right-center field gap to highlight the rally.
Douthit, who went 3-for-3 with two doubles, three runs scored and three RBIs, finished the series 6-for-7 with three doubles, five runs scored and five RBIs.
“We call him the Big Cat,” Pennington said. “Hey, Brandon’s been steady all year long. If you see him in person, he’s a big kid. He’s very strong, and we’ve been working on his batting technique, and he’s picked up on some things and put everything to use. Everything’s in the right spot. Whenever he hits it, it’s legit. He’s been consistent all year long.”
S.W. Jack plated two runs on three walks and a base hit in the top of the sixth to trim I-Medical’s lead to 7-5.
I-Medical responded with a back-breaking rally, scoring eight runs on four hits, three errors and two walks to take a 15-5 lead and enforce the mercy rule.
Winning pitcher Lance Pennington allowed just two hits and two runs in his last 4 1-3 innings. Pennington struck out eight and walked four in 5 1-3 innings. He also singled, doubled and scored three runs.
“He was hanging his curveball,” Doug Pennington said. “He was letting it up and they got a couple good hits off him. So when I went to the mound, that’s what I told him: ‘You can’t hang it in the zone. Make an adjustment.’ Lance always responds well. He listens and works hard. He did what he needed to do.”
Brandon Jones singled twice and drove in two runs for I-Medical.
Chase Kromer led S.W. Jack by going 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Cole Shaffer singled twice and drove in a run.