It rained for much of the Somerset’s American Legion Region 7 Tournament elimination game with Latrobe on Monday.
By the end, it felt like the Businessmen had been hit by a figurative blizzard.
Ryan Bisi threw a five-hitter and Latrobe scored five times with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to enact the mercy rule in a 10-0 game.
“That seems to be the core of the season,” Somerset manager Bart Close said after watching his team fall apart in the seventh. “We’ll play strong for five or six innings and then it doesn’t snowball, it avalanches on us.”
Somerset, which was shut out for a second consecutive day after beating Marion Center in its opener on Saturday, got into the tournament as the host team.
“Coming in we knew we were going to be undergunned age-wise and bat-wise,” Close said. “We knew we were going to play against some teams that could swing the sticks. When you get into the regional tournament, on the second and third days, that’s usually what counts, because you’re usually low on pitching.”
Somerset got a decent start from Marcus Brant, who gave up five runs on nine hits in 61⁄3 innings. Two Latrobe base runners stole home and a third of the Jet Hawks’ hits didn’t leave the infield. Several times a Somerset player came close to making a great play only to have the ball tick of his glove.
“Not to use the oldest cliché in baseball, but it’s a game of inches,” Close said. “Two or 3 inches one way or the other and it could have been a different game.”
Eric Costea, who relieved Brant in the sixth, gave up consecutive singles to Bisi, Anthony Monteparte and Dylan Hall to start the seventh, but recovered to strike out the next two batters. After a wild pitch scored Bisi, Costea walked No. 9 hitter Johnny Saunders and things unraveled quickly. Josh Roble smacked a two-run single to left and Eddie Kilkeary III rapped a two-run double to end the game.
‘That was still a 4-0 ballgame in the fourth or fifth inning,” Latrobe manager Jason Bush said. “They’re a scrappy bunch. They put some balls in play. Offensively, I thought we struggled a little bit, but when we needed to get the big hits late in the game, we did.”
Roble went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored while Bisi also had three hits. Monteparte and Hall each had two hits.
Roble stole home in the first as part of a double steal and Monteparte drove in Seth Holler with a two-out single.
That was a big enough cushion for Bisi, who struck out six and walked two. Mostly, he let his defense do the work.
“I just wanted to work my fastball in and work my spots,” Bisi said. “They kind of struggle hitting the ball some times. I felt like I didn’t have to overpower any of them, just hit my spots and I’d be good.”
Bush said he told Bisi before the game that he didn’t need to try to strike out every hitter.
“That was sort of the game plan going in – pitch to contact,” Bush said. “Strikeouts are great, but we didn’t need to rack up strikeouts, we didn’t think, today. The situation was pound the strike zone (and) let those guys put the ball in play. We’re pretty solid defensively. Absolutely, that was the game plan.”
Somerset put runners on base in each of the first four innings and had runners at second and third with two outs in the sixth, but Bisi got one of his 10 ground-ball outs to end the threat.
“Especially on this turf and it’s rainy out, keep the ball out of the air,” Bisi said.
Latrobe will play Unity at either 1 or 4 p.m. today. Monday’s 5 p.m. game between Unity and Mifflin County was postponed by rain. It will resume at 10 this morning. Mifflin County also will play Blairsville at either 1 or 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Businessmen ended a season that impressed their manager.
“They performed above what we actually expected at the beginning of the season,” Close said. “They came to play every day. Not only that, they came to learn every day.”