Short-handed Hempfield East eliminated from state Legion tournament
The Hempfield East Legion team, short-handed because of vacationing players and another who left for college, knew it had its work cut out coming into Monday’s third-round game in the Pennsylvania State Tournament. The Post 981 squad was down to nine participants and up against Ephrata, the defending state champion, in a losers’ bracket contest.
Despite that, East made a game of it, taking a four-run lead in the first inning and battling to the end of a season-ending 11-7 loss.
Reid Amundson went 4 for 4, and John Gennaro, Andrew Rosenberg and Dom Carrera had two hits each among of Hempfield’s 12 hits. Dylan Embiscuso picked up four of Ephrata’s 10 hits.
“No excuses,” East coach Bill Carrera said. “We had a skeleton crew, which we knew coming in. I’m really proud of the guys with the effort they put in, filling in and stepping up.”
“The nine that were here were committed and played their hearts out,” Amundson said. “No excuses.”
Amundson and Gennaro knocked two-run singles as East took a 4-0 advantage in the bottom of the first. But Ephrata came right back with three in the second, took the lead with two in the fourth and pulled away with a pair of three-run innings in the fifth and sixth.
East came back to within 8-6 in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Carrera and an RBI single by Gennaro but lost out on some other scoring opportunities by stranding eight runners.
“We had a very good start, just couldn’t hold up,” Amundson said. “That was our best hitting all this tournament, but we couldn’t scratch out more runs. We came in here with a bunch of confidence, knowing that we only had limited players.”
Rosenberg and Lance Daley split the pitching duties for East and were hurt by a pair of errors that led to three unearned runs.
“Both of our pitchers did a good job,” Bill Carrera said. “We just needed to be a bit more efficient and have fewer mistakes in the field. That team was a good team with good contact hitters. They had an opportunity to not only get up on us in the fourth but put a couple more on the board in the fifth.
“We played with integrity, grit and guts. The willingness of the nine players to stay here was huge. Kudos really go to John Gennaro. He really stepped up for us with two hits and three RBIs. He had just one heck of a game.”
Post 981 won the District 31 championship, bounced back with five straight wins after an opening-round loss to capture the Region 7 title and won in Saturday’s opening round in its first state appearance since 2012.
“All in all, we had one of the best seasons in history,” Bill Carrera said. “I’m just very, very proud of the effort they put in.”
Added Amundson: “We’ve just got to play our hearts out. Work hard in the off-season and focus on school ball now.”