Latrobe Legion ends drought, wins District 31 title

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021 | 9:55 PM


It had been 12 years since the Latrobe American Legion baseball team had won the District 31 playoff title.

That drought ended Wednesday as the Jethawks defeated Yough, 9-1, at Legion Keener Field.

“We’ve won five regular-season titles, and we’ve been to regionals seven times during that period,” Latrobe coach Jason Bush said. “It’s been a long time. For one reason or another, this has eluded us a little bit. It feels really great, especially after we started the season 0-2. We’ve had quite a run the last two months.”

Payton Henry tossed a five-hitter, and Ben Anderson drove in three runs for Latrobe.

Both teams — along with Young Township, which defeated Bushy Run, 4-2, in the third-place game — will compete in the Region 7 tournament, which begins Saturday at St. Michael (Cambria County).

Bushy Run’s season isn’t over. The Beavers were selected to compete in the Region 6 tournament at Uniontown, which begins Friday. Region 6 had a team drop out of the event.

Latrobe jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first inning, sending 10 batters to the plate. Vinny Amatucci and Rayce King had two-run singles in the opening inning off Yough starter Nate Wilkins.

“The big inning helped settled things down,” Bush said. “Sometimes in big games players tend to get a little tight.

“When you get six runs right off the bat, your pitcher doesn’t need to be perfect. It was huge and a tone setter.”

Henry allowed five hits, walked only one and struck out five.

He said his fastball was working well early and his breaking stuff late.

“It feels good,” Henry said about winning the title. “We came out and got it done. I did what I needed to. The six runs right off the bat really helped. We weren’t as stressed.”

Logan Short and Anderson had sacrifice flies in the fourth inning, and Anderson drew his second bases-loaded walk in the sixth inning. His first came in the first inning.

Yough’s three pitchers allowed only six hits, but eight walks and two errors proved costly.

“We were fortunate in this playoff season. We were down six runs against Unity and Bushy Run, and we overcame both of those,” Yough coach Craig Spisak said “But if you do it too many times in a row against good teams, it’s a matter of time before it catches up with you.

“They had timely hitting, and they took advantage of walks. They’re a good team, and that’s what happens when you do it against good teams.”

Yough’s run came in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Steve Manion.

There were no extra-base hits in the game, and only Latrobe’s Erick Batista had multiple hits (two singles).

Young Township 4, Bushy Run 2 — At Harrison City, Young Township jumped out to a 3-0 lead and held on to earn third place in the playoffs.

Brandon Gaston had two hits in the win, and Dustin Coleman was the winning pitcher, allowing only three hits.

Liam Hileman and Zach Hoffman had doubles for Bushy Run. The loss was tagged to Jake Chrise.

Showcase Thursday

The District 31 showcase tryouts will be Thursday at Legion Keener Field in Latrobe beginning at 5 p.m.

Players will be judged on their arm strength, quickness, fielding ability and bat speed.

More than eight colleges will be represented.

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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