Uniontown Legion hasn’t trailed much this season in league play, but when it faced some adversity on Saturday at Hutchinson Field in the most important game of the year, coach Brad Yohman’s squad responded in a big way en route to a 12-4 victory over Connellsville.
Connellsville (12-6) took a 3-1 lead in the third inning after Austin Petraglia hit a two-run home run to left field, but Uniontown (17-0, 19-3) came back with three runs in the bottom of the frame for a 4-3 advantage.
Uniontown scored three in the fourth and fifth, and two in the sixth, and Kaleb Scott and Dylan Bohna held Connellsville’s offense in check to help Yohman’s team advance to this evening’s championship final at 6 p.m.
The game will be played at Hutchinson Field, and despite the tournament being double elimination, the contest is winner-take-all.
Connellsville hosts Belle Vernon (13-7) this afternoon at 1 p.m. at Thomas E. Sankovich Field. The winner will play Uniontown in the final.
“I told our guys that you can’t look back or worry about it,” Connellsville coach Joe Bonadio said. “We have to come back tomorrow ready to play. We are in the regional tournament, but you don’t want to go into regionals with a game like this.”
Scott, who normally starts at catcher, pitched in the most meaningful game of the season and allowed four runs, two earned, on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He had two strikeouts and walked four. Bohna pitched the last inning and two-thirds of scoreless ball.
“I’m really proud of Kaleb,” Yohman said. “I can’t say enough about him. He is primarily a catcher, but we have utilized him as a reliever a lot this year. I am really proud of the effort against a really good Connellsville hitting team. I thought he responded well, even after the home run he gave up.”
Uniontown took a 1-0 lead in the second when Nate Zimcosky singled to left field and moved to third when a pick-off attempt was thrown wide before scoring on Scott’s sacrifice fly to left field.
The error was one of four for Connellsville. Four of Uniontown’s runs were unearned.
“It is a completely different game if we do make the errors,” Bonadio said. “Not that we may not lose it, but the game is a lot closer without the errors. We always shoot ourselves in the foot for whatever reason when we play Uniontown.”
DJ Farkas tripled to centerfield, and after Jake Frick walked, he scored on starting pitcher Tanner Orndorff’s sacrifice fly to center.
Orndorff left after 1 1/3 innings pitched to keep his pitch count down for availability later in the tournament. Petraglia came on in relief of Orndorff.
“Orndorff threw the ball well to start,” Yohman said. “He set us down 1-2-3 in the first inning. I thought Tanner threw the ball well to start. We hadn’t seen the pace like he threw the fastball in quite a few games now.”
Petraglia’s helped his own cause with his two-run shot that also scored Frick, and gave the visitors a two-run lead.
Uniontown came right back with three runs of its own in the bottom of the inning for a 4-3 advantage.
Michael Brestensky reached on an error, Alex Gesk walked, and with two outs, Brestensky and Gesk scored on Zimcosky’s single to right field for a tie game.
Chad Petrush singled and Zimcosky scored on Scott’s base hit to left field.
“Austin Petraglia is one of the best players in this league, all around,” Yohman said. “He is a great pitcher, he’s a great hitter, he’s a great fielder. He comes up in a big spot with a two-run homer when they put a three-spot in the third, but I was happy to see us come up with a three-spot in the bottom of the inning because a big inning with a crooked number can swing the game for either team, and I was really happy to see that our guys responded.”
Uniontown increased its lead to 7-3 with another three-spot in the fourth.
Bohna reached on an error and Brestensky walked before Jayce Hampe walked to load the bases with two outs.
Bohna scored on Nick Kumor’s infield single and Brestensky and Hampe came home on Zimcosky’s base hit up the middle.
“Nate is one of the purest hitters we’ve ever had in this program,” Yohman said. “He is so methodical at the plate, and when he barrels a baseball, the ball just comes off his bat different. Chad is giving him real nice protection behind him, and that is a big 1-2 punch in the heart of the order, and you have Nick Kumor hitting in the three spot.”
Uniontown took a 10-3 advantage in the fifth with another three-spot.
Scott and Bohna singled before courtesy runner Brett Lemansky scored on Brestensky’s double to right field. Bohna and Brestensky scored on Justin Brestensky’s two-run single to left field.
Connellsville cut the deficit to 10-4 when a run in the top of the sixth when Cade Warrick doubled for one of his two hits and scored when Elijah Small reached on an error.
Uniontown scored two runs in the sixth when Petrush doubled, Scott reached on an infield single and Hampe, who was running for Petrush, scored on Andino Vecchiolla’s ground out to second. Scott stole third and scored when a ball hit by Garrett Myers was misplayed.
Petraglia took the loss, but Bonadio was pleased with his hurler’s effort.
“He (Petraglia) threw well,” Bonadio said. “If we make the plays in the game, things could have ended up differently.”