Monroeville Junior Legion team advances to state tournament
The Monroeville Junior Legion baseball team continues its record-breaking season after capturing the Pennsylvania Youth Legion Baseball Western Regional championship in Homer City.
Monroeville, in its third-year of existence, captured its first regional title after defeating Millcreek, 2-0, in the championship game July 25.
Monroeville has a 25-3-1 overall record, including a 10-1 record in the playoffs.
“It’s a testament to the kids’ will to compete. The amount of resiliency that group has is unmatched,” coach Rich Otterman said.
“To me, it had little to do with who was coaching and more with who was playing. They have come together as a team and how they committed to each other that they were going to compete.”
In the double-elimination tournament, Monroeville won all five games, defeating Corry, 5-4, in the first game and Marion-Center, 12-2, in Game 2.
In the last 24 innings, the Monroeville pitching staff shut down the opposing offenses by only allowing two runs.
Monroeville defeated Millcreek, 1-0, in the winner’s bracket final. Will Roper threw five shutout innings in the win.
In the semifinals, Monroeville defeated a familiar foe, Murrysville, 6-2. Luke Jackson threw four no-hit innings in the game.
“We just went by the old adage that we’re going to play the team that is in front of us, and we’re going to try to win that game, survive, advance and play the next game,” Otterman said.
Joe Schulte leads Monroeville in the postseason with a .412 batting average and .647 slugging percentage, with nine RBIs and six extra-base hits.
Schulte is tied with Jackson with a team-high nine runs scored. On the mound, Schulte has a win and three saves in the postseason.
Jordan Stancovich is batting .409 and drove in the only run in the 1-0 win over Murrysville.
Aside from being for the team leader in runs scored, Jackson leads Monroeville with 11 steals and has a .514 on-base percentage. However, Jackson’s defense in center field has allowed the Monroeville coaches to trust any ball hit in the air to the outfield will be an out.
“It’s almost routine plays for him that basically nobody else can make. A lot of times, he would shut down rallies by making exceptional catches,” Otterman said.
“Most teams are afraid when a ball gets hit to the outfield, but when it happens for us, we think it’s mostly going to be an out.”
Monroeville has received strong contributions from Grady Otterman and Alex Majocha. Otterman is batting .393 with eight RBIs, while winning three and earning one save on the mound. Majocha is batting .400 with a .647 on-base percentage and has four runs scored.
By capturing the regional title, Monroeville advanced for the first time to the state tournament in Spring City. Murrysville finished third at the regional tournament and also earned a spot in the double-elimination state tournament.
The results of the regional tournament at Spring City were unavailable prior to this edition’s deadline.
“They just need to keep doing what they are doing. At this point, it’s going to be about how they perform and how they respond under pressure,” Otterman said.
“I expect to be in close games, and we’re going to be expected to make plays that we’re capable of making. If we pitch it and we field it, we should be in games.”