Monroeville Junior Legion team’s season ends at state tournament
After capturing the Westmoreland County Youth Legion regular season and postseason titles as well as winning the Western Regionals, the Monroeville Junior Legion baseball team was one of eight teams to compete in the Pennsylvania Youth Legion Baseball state championship in Spring City in late July.
In their first state tournament appearance, Monroeville’s stay in the tournament didn’t last long as they lost their first games of the tournament.
In the first game, Monroeville lost to Northampton, 10-4, after allowing three unearned runs in the first inning on July 28. The following day, Monroeville lost to Yardley, 9-0.
“I think the team was worn down. They played a lot of elimination games, and I think that all caught up with them. They kind of came out flat and had an uncharacteristic bad day on Saturday. It doesn’t take away anything that group has accomplished,” coach Rich Otterman said.
“The kids were regular-season champs, Westmoreland County playoff champs, Western Regional champs. They had a couple of bad games at states, but it doesn’t take away anything that those kids did. I think Monroeville baseball has an awful lot to be proud of.”
Even though Monroeville (25-5-1) didn’t perform up to its level of expectations, Otterman reminded his team they finished eighth out of 166 youth Legion baseball programs in the state.
“It’s something that the kids cam be proud of and talk to their families and be proud about it for the rest of their lives,” Otterman said.
“I told them I loved them, and I was so thrilled to be part of their team and to be a part of that run. I reminded them that those types of things, while they can happen every year, they did really special things. Although they were disappointed by how states ended, I thought this was going to be something that they were going to cherish for a really long time.”
During their playoff run, the Monroeville Junior Legion baseball program had plenty support from those in the Monroeville community. The biggest moment came when a large delegation from Monroeville traveled to the Western Regional tournament in Homer City to cheer on the team.
Otterman was overwhelmed with emotion when explaining the moment when Monroeville qualified for the state tournament when they defeated Millcreek, 1-0, in the winner’s bracket final.
“It was a midweek game out there in Homer City, and there was great representation from the Monroeville fans. After the game, knowing we just qualified for the state tournament and to share it with the fans was really special,” Otterman said.
Monroeville earned a trip to the state tournament after defeating Murrysville, 2-1, in the Westmoreland County Youth Legion championship game July 14. In the Western Regional tournament, Monroeville defeated Millcreek, 2-0, in the championship game July 25.
Although the end of the season was still fresh, the Monroeville program will have to look for others to replace the production lost by the departures of top players if they have any expectations on making another deep playoff run next summer. Monroeville will lose the services of top players Joe Schulte, Jordan Stancovich and Luke Jackson.