Members of the title winning team include, front row left to right, David Gehman, Zane Saeger, Tommy Saeger and Levi Stoudt. Second row, Josh Fell, Matt Schneider, Zach Miller, Jacob Breyer, Brett Fullerton, Michael Felix and Grant Templeton. Third row, Perry Breyer, Bob Saeger, Eric Schantz, Elias Gabel-Tripp, Kacey Myers, Erik Stalford, Nolan Graber, Tom Aaron, Tom Aaron and Todd Stoudt.
The Upper Perkiomen Braves Youth Legion baseball team had already won the regular season title and with it a trip to one of the regional playoff tournaments – that happened when the team defeated Phoenixville in the final game of the regular season on July 8.
But even though the Braves won the most important game of the regular season against the Phantoms, Phoenixville posted victories in the first two regular season contests. When the two met again last Friday night at Bonekemper Field, it looked like the visitors once again had the formula for success against the locals.
That formula was to take advantage of a pair of Upper Perkiomen miscues, implement solid fundamental baseball skills, toss in some good base running and deliver a clutch hit or two, then have your starting pitcher throw three innings of no-hit ball.
What the recipe didn’t call for was water. When the skies opened heading to the top of the fourth inning, the torrential downpour that prevailed left the field unplayable, forcing the game to be suspended until the next morning. It would prove to be the break the Braves were looking for.
When play resumed Saturday morning Phoenixville appeared prepared to pick up right where they left off, scoring two more runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 4-0 lead.
Upper Perk chipped away in its half of the inning: Jake Breyer collected the team’s first hit off Phoenixville pitcher Jeff Conboy, who had thrown 37 pitches the night before. The Braves would only manage one run in the inning, but it was the beginning of the end for the Phantoms.
Phoenixville threatened again in the top of the fifth inning. It started when the first two Phantom hitters reached base; but unlike Friday when the visitors could do no wrong, Saturday they could do no right. A failed sacrifice bunt led to the first out, and a base running mistake turned a bases-loaded-one-out situation into an inning-ending double play.
The Braves had an edge in the fact that they didn’t need to win Game 1, as they were undefeated in the four-team playoff tournament. Phoenixville on the other hand lost its opener to Boyertown and needed to win back-to-back games to claim the title.
By the time the sixth inning ended, Braves Head Coach Perry Breyer had sent four pitchers to the hill. Phoenixville, having played an extra game just to make the finals, appeared to not have the same luxury. When Conboy took the hill in the bottom of the sixth, the Braves took advantage.
Josh Fell led off with a single. A walk to Mike Felix was followed by Matt Schneider being hit by a pitch to load the bases. Phoenixville collected its first out of the inning, but another hit batter and a walk brought the score to 4-3 with the bases loaded and Upper Perkiomen’s cleanup hitter, Erik Stalford, heading to the plate.
Stalford delivered a single to right that plated Zach Miller with the tying run, and right behind Miller was Levi Stoudt with what would be the go-ahead run, making the score 5-4, Braves.
Stalford took the mound in the top of the seventh and, four batters later, the Braves had become the 2013 Twin County Champions.
The Braves will play in the West Lawn regional Saturday morning at 10 a.m., while Phoenixville will travel to the South Hampton regional. Directions to the West Lawn Tournament can be found on the Braves web site upkiwanisbaseball.com.