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American Legion Baseball: Eden Post 880 to go for district final today against Jurek

Eden Post 880's Brad Palmerton slides in safely to second base as Jurek's Tom Styn takes the throw on Sunday (July 22) in Game 1 of the American Legion District 8 championship series, which looks to be headed for a Game 3 finale today at Veteran's Park.
Though it’s not officially in the books just yet, Jurek Post 1672 looks to have forced a third and deciding game against Eden Post 880 in the American Legion 19-and-under Western New York District 8 championship series.

Behind an impressive hitting display, Jurek led 17-6 with one out in the top of the ninth inning and were threatening to do more damage when the three hour marathon of a game Monday (July 23) at Veteran’s Park in Tonawanda was called due to darkness. The game was played through high wind gusts and blowing dirt from the infield and batter’s box.

Eden had taken a 1-0 series lead the day before at Northtowns Center in Amherst with a come-from-behind 7-5 win behind a three-run eighth inning. Post 880 took a 4-0 lead and held the advantage most of the way but Jurek chipped away and went up 5-4 in the seventh.

The two teams square off today 5 p.m. back at Veteran’s Park for the right to play in the State Tournament later this month. The final inning will be played at that time, before the start of what seems to be an inevitable Game 3. Jurek had already scored twice in the top of the ninth and had a runner on second base at the time the game was called.

Post 1672 built the Game 2 lead behind a four-run first and after plating one in the second, a five-run third. Down 10-0, Eden got on the scoreboard for the first time in the bottom of the fourth with two, then added singles runs in the fifth and seventh and two more in the sixth.

However, after Drew Scharra of Springville came in to the game to pitch and settled things down for Post 880 with two scoreless innings, Jurek got back to its offensive ways with a three-run sixth and two more runs in the seventh.

As part of a 15-hit attack for Jurek, first baseman JJ Serba recorded four hits, including a double, and four RBI, each coming in four different innings. Catcher Pete Elliot added three hits, including a double, and three RBI, and second baseman Zach Thomas also had three hits with a double and two RBI. Shortstop Tom Styn contributed a double and triple and scored twice.

Equally impressive was the pitching of Pete Moran. While Jurek has a base in the Williamsville East and North, Sweet Home and Clarence school districts, it was able to attain the Christian Central product, who came through big with the team’s season on the line.

He threw seven strong innings, scattering eight hits and striking out four, and just as important saving Jurek’s bullpen during the three-game in as many days stretch. Eden was forced to use four pitchers in the game.

Post 880, which has a base in North Collins and Eden, but also features players from Lake Shore, Springville and Gowanda, was led by two hits from shortstop Vinnie Sherman and RBI doubles from designated hitter Christ Conley and right fielder Brad Palmerton. Adding a RBI each were Dan Karstedt and Kyle Sherman.

Although Jurek coach Kevin Craig was happy with the way his team bounced back and the performance of his Game 2 starting pitcher, he said he was disappointed in his team’s poor eighth inning the day before.

In the top of the eighth, Eden used four walks to their advantage as Brian Barry delivered the big blow that inning with a two-run single. He finished with three hits, along with earning the win on the mound after the left-hander threw seven innings, striking out seven. He started the bottom of the eighth before giving way to Mitchell Williams, who earned the two-inning save.

Adding two hits for Post 880 in the win were Todd Gardner and Ryan Boutelle of Gowanda. Eden was up by four runs until the bottom of the fifth, and then Jurek scored five times over the next three innings. Post 880 coach Gordy Karstedt noted that it was yet another comeback win for a team that has had a knack for that this season.

Eden, the top seed from Western New York’s South Division, had advanced to the district final with a 10-0 victory over Tonawanda. Coming into the double elimination tournament as the top seed from the North, Jurek defeated West Seneca to advance. Both teams went unbeaten in the playoffs until they seemed to have split the first two games of the district finals, barring a monumental Eden comeback to begin play Wednesday.


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