District 31 American Legion baseball season winding down

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Wednesday, June 30, 2021 | 10:08 PM


The District 31 American Legion baseball season wraps up Sunday, but the final four days are turning out to be a race between the final eight playoff teams.

Teams are jockeying for positions as the season wraps. The top four teams in the league earn home-field advantage in the opening round of the playoffs, which are scheduled to begin July 6.

Bushy Run (15-4) holds the top spot as it tries to fend off hard-charging Latrobe (11-4). The Jethawks have won 11 of 13 games after starting the season 0-2.

Latrobe defeated Bushy Run, 7-0, on Wednesday at Harrison City.

Many games were postponed because of wet grounds after heavy storms rolled through Westmoreland County in the middle of the day. But Bushy Run, which plays at Penn-Trafford, was able to get the game in because of the turf field.

“We’re fine,” Bushy Run coach Scott Peyman said. “We’re in good shape. If we win Friday (at Unity), we can’t finish any lower than second place. Latrobe is playing well, but it has to win out.”

Bushy Run returned seven players 18 years or older, and Peyman said that has been a key to the success of the season.

“I expected we’d be in the running for the league title,” Peyman said. “I expected to be at the top. Some players have played better that I expected.”

In the loss to Latrobe, Bushy Run pitchers allowed eight walks and hit two batters. Both teams collected four hits.

Young Township (Saltsburg, Apollo-Ridge and West Shamokin) is in second place, and vying for the fourth spot are Yough (11-5) and Murrysville (11-7). Young Township is 13-4.

Hempfield East (7-8), Unity (8-9) and Derry (7-9) are battling for the next three spots. Kiski Valley and Mt. Pleasant are trying to play the spoiler roles. West Hempfield’s season was suspended Tuesday after having to forfeit for a third time this season. Unity defeated Mt. Pleasant on Wednesday, 9-0.

“Things have gone well,” Regional 7 Director, District 31 President and Latrobe coach Jason Bush said. “We’ve had a few hiccups, but for most part things have run smoothly.”

Extended high school season for Hempfield and Franklin Regional were a problem early, but Bush said teams worked through it.

“We’ve actually been playing well since the slow start,” Bush said. “We lost a couple key players (Tucker Knupp, school, and Drew Clair, injury) at the beginning of the season, and it took us a few games to get over that.

“The teams I expected to be strong have disappointed me. It’s a battle down to the wire like it always is.”

While the season is scheduled to end Sunday, inclement weather could extend it an extra day. Bush would like to see the season end on time. There are numerous games scheduled over the next four days.

Bush’s team was scheduled to play six games in five days. Latrobe has a doubleheader with Derry on Saturday and its annual Fourth of July game Sunday against Unity.

Unity is another team that started the season slowly. But the Bulldogs have been playing well.

“We’re starting to have everyone show up,” Unity assistant Nate Hissem said Monday. “This is the first time since our first game of the season that we had all of our starters.”

Peyman said he’s not surprised how the league has turned out. He said anyone can win the playoffs.

“I feel it’s wide-open,” Peyman said. “There are six teams that can win it.”

Peyman said he’s confident his team will be there in the end.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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