The Johnston 15/16 Senior League all-stars moved with one win of the District 1 Championship last week, but just couldn’t find a way to close the deal.
Playing Edgewood/South Elmwood, Johnston captured the first game in the best-of-three series by a 6-0 score, but fell 7-5 and 2-1 over the weekend to end their season and derail what had been high hopes.
“It’s not what we expected,” Johnston manager Joe Santilli said. “We put together a team that we thought could go a long way. We were counting on it. They were a good team. They had great pitching.”
Elmwood’s pitching was led by Gus Culpo, who earned the save in game two by recording the final two outs, and then threw six innings of one-run, four-hit ball in the series clincher.
Johnston’s Justin Simeo also had a dominant day on the mound, yielding only the two runs. But when it was all said and done, Johnston couldn’t do enough against Culpo to get the win.
“Not that our pitching was worse, but we just didn’t have timely hitting,” Santilli said.
Johnston also lost center fielder and leadoff hitter Chris Pistacchio with a sprained ankle in the fourth inning.
“The ball was hit over his head, and he made a great try on it,” Santilli said. “But his foot got caught up in the fence and the ground that abuts it.”
Still, Johnston had an opportunity to at least tie the game, as it had the tying run on second base in the seventh inning before Finley O’Hara worked out of the jam.
“Generally, they were down about it,” Santilli said. “Like I told them, ‘You played as hard as you could. You did the best you could.’”