The Blairsville Colts clinched their first-ever regular-season league title by nipping two-time defending champion Bovard, 8-7, in an Indiana County League baseball game Thursday at One River Field.
Blairsville (22-5-1) wrapped up the top seed in the county playoffs and will have a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Second-seeded Bovard (21-4-1) will receive a first-round bye and home-field advantage at least in the semifinals.
“When I took over six years ago we were switching eras and a new group from Blairsville was coming in,” Colts player-manager Joe Culler said.
“It took us a few years to learn each other’s games and to become comfortable playing together, but I’ve got to give all the credit to the guys on the team. There were 24 guys on our bench tonight. All these Legion kids are coming out. Everyone is just committed.”
The Colts were trailing 5-2 when they plated five runs on four hits, a walk, an error and a balk in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 7-5 lead. Bobby Thompson and Scott Harsh each delivered a two-run double to highlight the rally.
Bovard answered and scored two runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game, 7-7.
But Thompson ripped an RBI double that scored David Doak in the bottom of the sixth to score the game-winning run. Thompson finished 4-for-4 with three doubles.
“Bobby Thompson just had a hell of a day,” Culler said. “A lot of these young guys understand the importance of this team to the community in Blairsville. They’re all contributing. But for an 18-year-old kid (Thompson) to have three doubles, all in clutch situations, I just can’t say enough about a kid like that.”
Doak finished 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Steve Janik struck out one, walked none and allowed no hits in 1 1-3 innings of relief to get the win.