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 Surprise Pitcher Leads to Murrysville Victory

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By Paul Schofield
Wednesday, July 19, 2006

If West Hempfield hopes to win its second consecutive District 31 American Legion title, then its players better have a short memory.

Murrysville combined a 10-hit attack, a seven-run inning and the clutch pitching of Steve Ferimer into an impressive 10-1 victory over West Hempfield on Tuesday in Game 1 of the best-of-3 championship series at Haymaker Park.

Game 2 of the series is 5:30 p.m. today at West Hempfield's Lint Field.

Ferimer, who usually catches for Murrysville, was called on to pitch because the team's top three hurlers -- Mike Pelekanos, Dave Casper and Dave Hatok -- needed another day's rest. And the burly right-hander delivered in the clutch.

He allowed only four hits, including a solo home run by Steve Dubich in the sixth inning, struck out three and walked two. He also got some help from the guys behind him. He got key defensive plays from shortstop Len Gallo, second baseman Jeremy Rehak and center fielder Zach King, who made a diving, two-out catch in the top of the second inning to deny West Hempfield a couple of runs.

"Zach's catch took a lot out of them," Murrysville coach Larry Wayman said. "His catch and the big inning was the final exclamation mark. If Zach doesn't make the catch, it changes the momentum of the game."

Ferimer said he knew he was needed because the top three pitchers threw over the weekend. "I was pretty confident," Ferimer said. "I had my curveball working, and my change-up was going pretty well. I had a lot of confidence in my teammates."

"Steve pitched great," Wayman said. "His curveball was great. He threw strikes and kept them off balance. With our shortage of pitchers, that was a big plus for us.

"The last two games, Steve and Dave (Hatok) have come through. We asked them to step up. Steve pitched above and beyond himself."

Murrysville grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a Pelekanos single. Pelekanos had three hits and two RBI. The big hit came after a confusing play, which prompted West Hempfield coach Bob Stokes to protest the final ruling. The protest was not upheld by the league because it was ruled that the umpires' decision was correct.

The confusion occurred when the baserunner, Gallo, thought that West Hempfield outfielder Jon Murphy made a diving catch of a drive hit by Rehak. Gallo headed back toward first base, but the ball bounced out of Murphy's glove when he hit the ground. Rehak and Gallo passed each other between first and second base during the play, and Rehak was ruled out. When Murphy threw to shortstop Dan Norris, the umpires called Gallo out at second base on a force play.

After the umpires got together, it was ruled correctly that Gallo was safe because the force play was no longer in effect after Rehak passed Gallo and because Norris did not tag out the baserunner sliding into second base.

Stokes, who didn't know after the game about the final decision, said his team didn't play a very good game. League officials called Stokes at home after listening to the coaches and umpires. "We've been in this position before," Stokes said. "My kids will go down in a ball of fire; we won't quit. We didn't make a couple of plays that we should have."

After King's catch quelled a second-inning rally, Murrysville padded its lead in the bottom of the inning. Anthony Venditti hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.

Murrysville put the game away in the third inning with seven runs. Gallo's three-run home run capped the uprising. "Lenny played well," Wayman said. "He made some real nice plays defensively and came up with the huge hit. The big inning took the wind out of their sails. It took them down a notch." Gallo and Rehak each had two hits for Murrysville, while Seve Franceshelli drove in two runs with a hit and sacrifice fly.

"We came out a lot more focused," Wayman said. "We had a good round of batting practice, and the players had more determination. We were ready to go."

Paul Schofield can be reached at or (724) 853-2109.