WEST LEBANON — West Lebanon wrapped up the Indiana County League regular-season title on Thursday evening and did it in style at Bertolino Park.
Trailing 8-2 with four outs to go. West Lebanon staged a game-tying six-run rally in the sixth inning and won 9-8 in the seventh with the help of a couple unusual plays.
After West Lebanon forged the tie, Mike Percic started the winning rally with a walk off relief pitcher Joe Culler, and Chase Kromer followed with a base hit. Joe Weckoski pinch ran for Percic, and Austin Adamson pinch ran for Kromer. A passed ball followed, and Weckoski moved up to third while Adamson stayed at first.
That move — failing to take an easy base — ended up paying off for West Lebanon. With Culler pitching from the stretch, Adamson broke for second before Culler went into his windup Culler turned to gun toward second and catch Adamson in a rundown, and apparently realizing a baserunner at second was of little importance with the winning run at third, he tried to stop the throw but lost his grip on the ball, which squirted out of his hand. Weckoski raced home with the winning run.
“It was so bizarre,” West Lebanon player-manager Bo Putt said.
It was the sixth-inning rally that put West Lebanon in position to win the title. After Brady Yard and Jordan Hudzicki opened the inning with hits, Blairsville got two strikeouts. Kromer followed with an RBI single that kept the rally going. Matt Shank also stroked an RBI single in the inning, and Putt picked up an RBI with a bases-loaded walk.
Brady Yard, Hudzicki, Kromer, Shank, Tanner Yard and Putt scored during the uprising.
West Lebanon used 14 players, and 10 ended up with either a hit or a run scored. Hudzicki finished with two hits and two RBIs, and Kromer had two hits.
Brady Yard picked up the win in relief, taking over with two outs in the sixth following Bobby Thompson’s two-run home run that staked Blairsville to the 8-2 lead.
“The tension was high out there, and it felt like like an old-time ICL game,” Putt said. “We literally relied on our bench, and everyone got in and contributed.”
Thompson led Blairsville by going 3-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and four RBIs. Jordan Truscott and Mike Fennell each had two hits.
Putt said the league will likely suspend the rest of the regular season, which was supposed to end next week, and go right into the playoffs as early as this weekend. West Lebanon (10-2) gets a bye, and Blairsville (8-4), the defending league champion, takes on Apollo in a best-of-three semifinal series.