DuBOIS — For the third time in the last six years Swoyersville has staked its name as the best American Legion baseball team in Pennsylvania.
Swoyersville claimed the state title with a 2-1 victory over Hempfield East in the championship game Wednesday afternoon at Showers Field.
The Region 5 champions finished the tournament a perfect 5-0, as Swoyersville has now claimed three state titles over the last six years, doing so for the first time in team history in 2014 and again in 2016.
Swoyersville entered Wednesday’s play as the lone undefeated team in the tournament, as Hempfield East would have needed to secure a pair of wins in order to claim its first ever state championship.
Hempfield East, the champions out of Region 7, finished the tournament with a 4-2 record with a pair of hard-fought losses coming against Swoyersville, including a 4-1 loss in Monday’s winners’ bracket final.
Swoyersville and Hempfield East will now both represent Pennsylvania in the Great Lakes Regional tournament in Charleston, Ill. beginning August 7.
The winner from the regional will then move on to the Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C. beginning Aug. 15.
Early on in Wednesday’s title game it appeared as if Hempfield East would be the team to get on the board first as it put a pair of runners on in each of the first two innings while Swoyersville went down in order in both the first and second innings.
After a line out to short got the top of the first started for Hempfield East, Andrew Rosenberg recorded the game’s first hit with a single up the middle.
A fly out to left resulted in the second out, as Matthew Wicker followed with a single to center field to put two on with two away.
Swoyersville starting pitcher Patrick Adamski then got out of the inning with a strikeout.
On the other side, Rosenberg shut down the Swoyersville bats in the early going, retiring the first six batters he faced to give his team a chance to take an early lead.
Hempfield East had a prime opportunity to do so in the second, as Noah Sweeney led off by driving a pitch into the right-field corner for a triple.
Jon Malinak was then hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners, but was quickly erased as he was thrown out by catcher Stephen Banas on an attempted steal of second.
Adamski then forced the following two batters to fly out to strand Sweeney at third.
In the top of the third Hempfield East was able to put two runners on base for the third consecutive inning.
After a groundout started the frame, Rosenberg reached for the second time of the game by drawing a walk before Hunter Eperesi beat out a throw from short for an infield single.
Wicker followed with a comebacker to the mound as the runners moved up to second and third on the play.
A groundout to the left side then ended the inning as Hempfield East stranded its third and fourth runners in scoring position in the first three innings.
Swoyersville got its bats going in the home half of the third, as Banas drove a one-out double down the left-field line.
After a fly out to center field, Craig Cooley-Ruff came through with a clutch two-out RBI, ripping a pitch over the center fielder’s head for a double as he was able to advance to third when the ball was bobbled in the outfield.
Cooley-Ruff was stranded there when Rosenberg struck out the following batter as Swoyersville took a 1-0 lead into the fourth.
After Adamski retired the side in order in the top of the inning, he got things started in the bottom half by reaching on an error on a ground ball to short.
Michael Kane followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Adamski into scoring position with one away.
Nate Baranski followed with another ground ball to the left side, as Adamski narrowly avoided the grounder which also skipped past the shortstop and into left field.
The second error of the inning allowed Adamski to come around to score and give Swoyersville a 2-0 lead.
The shoreline held into the sixth inning before a two-out rally got Hempfield East on the board.
After the first two batters of the inning were retired, Sweeney hit what appeared to be a routine grounder to second, but instead he used his speed to beat out the throw for an infield single.
Malinak then drove a full-count pitch to right field for a single, as John McBride followed with a first-pitch single to left to bring home Sweeney to cut the deficit in half.
In the top of the seventh Dajauhn Hertzog led off by reaching on a four-pitch walk, which put an end to Adamski’s day on the mound.
The Swoyersville starter allowed one run on eight hits and two walks while striking out three to get the win.
Tyler O’Kane then took the mound to face Rosenburg, who looked to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but got under the ball and popped it up into foul territory towards third base.
Adamski, who had just moved to third after leaving the mound, charged in to make a catch for the first out of the inning.
Eperesi followed by driving a pitch into center, as center fielder Cooley-Ruff charged in and made a sliding catch for the second out.
O’Kane then forced a groundout to second, as second baseman Garrett Vought tagged out Hertzog between first and second for the title-clinching out.
Hempfield East will play in the opening game of the Great Lakes Regional Aug. 7 against Lyon County, Ky., while Swoyersville will take on Danville, Il. in the third of four games that day.