Latest Laurenti News
Jun 28, 2021
TribLIVE's Daily and Weekly email newsletters deliver the news you want and information you need, right to your inbox. Although the song “Renegade” is not played during the Young Township American Legion Renegades games like the Steelers at Heinz Field, the baseball team has its sights set on a District 31 title. The Renegades (10-3) secured a spot in the upcoming Westmoreland County playoffs with an 11-1 victory over Kiski Valley on Wednesday at Bertilino Park. The victory put Young Township a half game out of first place in the 11-team District 31 field, and now the Renegades can focus on playoff positioning. Barry Thomas, in his 37th season as a coach, and key on-field assistant J.T. (Jack) Yard, are making do with a trimmed-down roster. Only 11 players were in uniform for the playoff clincher Wednesday. “We’re playing some great ball right now,” Yard said. “The best thing is, we’re pitching well and playing great defense. We’re an older team, an experienced team, and we’re right in the mix of things.” Three runs in each of the first three innings propelled Young Township to its latest victory. Several players have been in the program for six seasons, including the Junior Legion program that also is sponsored by Saltsburg American Legion Post 57. One of those players is Brice Laurenti, a recent graduate of Apollo-Ridge. “We had a pretty good feeling coming into this season,” said Laurenti, a center fielder and second baseman. “We knew we could hold our own and compete in this league.” After the season, Laurenti will be heading for an organization with a much longer track record of success: the U.S. Marines. Laurenti will be reporting to Parris Island, S.C., on Nov. 9, one day before the Marine Corps celebrates its 246th birthday. But first, there’s the Legion postseason. The regular season is set to end July 4, and District 31 will jump immediately into the first best-of-three series to decide the county title. “We’ll have 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7 and so on,” Thomas said. “Then we reseed, have another best-of-three, then we play a one-game championship to go on to the regionals.” The Region 7 Tournament will be at St. Michael, located near Johnstown. District 31 will receive three berths: the two finalists and the survivor of a one-game, winner-take-all matchup between the losing semifinalists. Hempfield East won the Region 7 title two years ago. Last year, when state Legion officials called off the season because of the covid-19 pandemic, a number of Westmoreland teams played in a self-governed league with Legion rules. Young Township has seven regular-season games remaining, and the Renegades hope to finish high enough to get home-field advantage at rural Bertolino Park. The facility is a throwback to the roots of baseball. “It’s been a hub of baseball for Indiana County for years,” Thomas said. “We have a West Lebanon team in the over-19 (age) group, our team, which has been here for over 50 years, and our junior team.” Thomas, who was inducted into the Pennsylvania American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018, recalls as a 12-year-old batboy and ball-chaser, he’d be in charge of ushering neighborhood cows off the field during games at Bertolino Field. George Guido is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. Support Local Journalism and help us continue covering the stories that matter to you and your community.