Blairsville reached the brink of its first Indiana County League championship series appearance since 2003, while two-time defending champion Bovard is a win away from its third straight appearance in the finals and its fifth in six years.
Blairsville defeated West Lebanon and Bovard beat New Derry, both in Game 2 of best-of-five Indiana County League semifinal series Monday. Both teams lead their respective series, 2-0, and both can clinch at home this evening.
The championship series is slated to begin following a day off at the close of the semifinals.
BLAIRSVILLE 5, WEST LEBANON 4: The Colts were lifted by David Doak’s go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the fifth inning at West Lebanon’s Bertolino Field.
“It’s important not to have a loss in the series,” said Joe Culler, player/manager of regular-season champion Blairsville (24-5-1). “The sooner, the better. We’ve got to keep the ball rolling.”
Doak’s blast gave the Colts a 4-3 lead. Blairsville waited out West Lebanon starter Anthony Rebyanski, who struck out seven and walked two in four innings, and got to Josh Mottorn, the losing pitcher in relief. Mottorn struck out one and walked one in three innings.
“I give our guys a lot of credit,” Culler said. “They’ve faced two good pitchers in the Rebyanskis (Anthony and Matt) the first two games.”
West Lebanon (12-17-1) led 3-1 after Tyler Beitel and Matt Rebyanski smacked RBI doubles in the third.
Jarred Pennavaria tripled and scored on Ben Doak’s sacrifice fly earlier in the fifth inning, setting the stage for David Doak’s go-ahead homer. Pennavaria and Ben Doak each finished 2-for-3. Pennavaria scored two runs.
Scott Harsh struck out six and walked two in 6 2-3 innings for the win. Culler entered with the bases loaded in the seventh and nailed down the save, inducing a popup after walking in a run.
BOVARD 5, NEW DERRY 3: Bovard scored four runs over the final five innings, also overcoming a 3-1 deficit and pulling out a win in New Derry.
Zack Martin had three of the Bison’s seven hits, one of which was a home run. Dan Moyer added two hits, including a double.
Martin finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs, and Matt Moyer drove in two runs.
Brandon Hassinger didn’t issue a walk in six innings, striking out two to pick up the win for Bovard (22-4-1).
Tommy Kelly, Scott Dixon and Andrew Oshnock led New Derry (16-14) with two hits apiece. Kelly scored twice, and he and Oshnock each doubled.
Zack Bowman took the loss, striking out five and walking two in 6 1-3 innings.