The Region 6 tournament hosted by Blackhawk last week was going just as host manager Bob Amalia had hoped.
"Everything from the volunteers who helped out to the concession stands and the field, everything was organized, it was top notch," Amalia said.
The host team delivered a top-notch performance too.
Blackhawk dominated the double-elimination tournament for the better part of five days on the way to capping things off with a 6-0 win against West Mifflin in the championship game.
Blackhawk was the host with the most defense, pitching and offense. It dominated the tournament from the get-go winning, 15-1, against Springdale in the opener and then blasting Monroeville, 12-2, and Ambridge-Baden, 11-1, to advance to the championship game.
In the loser's bracket West Mifflin defeated Connellsville to reach the final. In the elimination game both West Mifflin and Connellsville pitched their number one pitchers while Blackhawk had its ace in the hole, Brendan McKay, prepared for the final.
McKay, a Post-Gazette Player of the Year, Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year and a University of Louisville recruit, saved one of his best games of the summer for the regional championship.
McKay tossed a complete-game, three-hit shutout, striking out 10 and not walking any. He had faced the minimum number of batters entering the ninth inning and only ended up facing 28 batters, one over the minimum, for the entire game.
He was just as influential with a bat in his hand, belting two two-run home runs in his first two at bats to stake Blackhawk to a 4-0 lead.
"That is what you hope for," Amalia said of having his ace available for the championship game. "It doesn't always work out that way. Obviously, that is the way we wanted it and it worked out."
Blackhawk (25-4) will be making its seventh trip to the state tournament since 2000, also having gone in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2011.
The tournament is hosted by Boyertown Bears Post 471 in Boyertown, Pa. Blackhawk left Monday morning to travel to Boyertown. Activities commenced with a Monday night banquet and Blackhawk opened play Tuesday morning with a 2-1 loss to Region 4 champion Spring Grove (20-8) out of York County.
Along with Blackhawk, Spring Grove and the host Boyertown, the other representatives are Region 2 champion Twin Valley, Region 3 champ Downingtown, Region 5 champ Greater Pittston, Region 7 champ Latrobe and Region 8 champ Millcreek.
The two state finalists will advance to nationals in New Jersey. Blackhawk has been to nationals five times and is believed to be the only Legion team from Beaver County to have reached nationals having done so as recently as 2011.
Five starters from the 2011 team are still on the Blackhawk team, McKay, Adam Rousseau, Joe Lopez, Brendan Kearney and Nick Martin. McKay, Rousseau and Lopez all pitched in 2011.
Martin had a home run and two hits in the championship game. In the win against Monroeville Joe Campagna had two hits and Jake Emge and Cody Bain each had two hits and three RBIs. In the win against Springdale Joe Campbell had two hits and one RBI and Rich Rowe had one hit and two RBIs.
McKay picked up the wins against Springdale and West Mifflin in the final while Bain was the winning pitcher against Monroeville and Rousseau was the winning pitcher against Ambridge.
Amalia shares a lot of credit with his five assistant coaches, Joe Basile, Lou Wolder, Ryan Verlihey, Jim Potts and Stan Przybysz.
Amalia and his assistants know the challenges that await them at Boyertown.
"Out east, Legion baseball is huge," Amalia said. "There will be 2,000 people out there watching the Boyertown games. They really take their Legion baseball very, very seriously. It is top-notch baseball -- every team will be really, really good."
Amalia was hesitant to talk about his team's reputation preceding itself when it heads out east but he did concede, "A lot of teams out there are going to know our Blackhawk team and they will be aware of Brendan McKay."