Braves' second baseman Josh Fell looks to catch the ball and make the tag as Newtown's runner tries to make it to second during play Monday night in the PA Junior Legion State Championship tournament in Homer City.
Editor's Note: At presstime we received a report that the Braves finished as the state runner-up after a 5-1 loss to Newtown Wednesday. Complete coverage of this game will appear in the August 15 edition.
Down 4-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, Upper Perkiomen scored five runs and held on to defeat the West Regional tournament runner-up Murrysville by a score of 6-4 Tuesday night.
Upper Perk’s Junior Legion baseball team got 5 1/3 innings of outstanding relief pitching from Zach Miller, and a clutch base hit from Grant Templeton that plated two runs to lead the Braves’ comeback. The win was the team’s third of the tournament and put them in the championship game against Newtown, which defeated Scranton regional champion Bloomsburg in the second game of the night.
Upper Perk had been scheduled to open play last Saturday night, but rain and fog forced the cancellation of the evening’s final game, forcing the Braves to play twice on Sunday.
When the Braves finally took the field they faced the tournament’s host team, Homer City-based Wabeck Insurance. The teams were tied through the first three innings before Upper Perkiomen scored five times in the top of the fourth inning. Wabeck scored its only run of the game in the home half of the inning only to see Upper Perk score five more runs in the fifth.
Josh Fell powered the Braves offense, going 3-4, while Levi Stoudt and Mike Felix each added a pair of hits. Elias Gabel Tripp scored three runs including the game-winner in the sixth on a double by Fell. Jake Breyer (4IP-1R-5H-5K-1BB) picked up the win, while Matt Schneider threw two innings of shutout ball in the 11-1 win.
In their second game of the day, Upper Perk took on the North Hampton regional champion Beech Creek. The Braves exploded for seven first-inning runs, the big blow a double off the bat of Mike Felix. The Braves posted four more runs in the third to go ahead 11-0.
Seemingly in command starting pitcher Erik Stalford (5IP-2ER-4H-2K-4BB) was taken out with the Braves ahead 11-2 heading into the top of the sixth inning. The move was designed to save Stalford's pitching eligibility for later in the tournament, but Beech Creek jumped on the opportunity and exploded for eight runs in the sixth, making it an 11-10 game. Upper Perk responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth and Schneider, who had been called on to stop the bleeding in the sixth, shut the door in the seventh to preserve the 13-10 win. Josh Fell had another solid game at the plate, notching three more RBIs for the Braves.
The two wins moved Upper Perk into the winner’s bracket final on Monday where they faced Newtown. The Tropics had punched their ticket to the state tournament by winning the Pottstown regional.
Upper Perk would draw first blood as they used a single by Erik Stalford and a double by Tom Aaron to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Newtown would tie the game in the bottom of the fifth, and go ahead 3-2 with a run in the sixth. The roller coaster ride that would be the seventh inning was almost unbelievable.
It started when Upper Perk's Tom Aaron stroked his second double of the game. Fell reached on a bunt single and Gabel Tripp singled to drive in Aaron with the tying run. David Gehman walked and Levi Stoudt drove in a pair of runs that put the Braves ahead 5-3. Stalford singled and when the top half of the inning had ended, the Braves held a 6-3 lead.
Newtown, though, im-plemented its own version of a seventh-inning rally. When James Closser stroked a two-out single to right field the Tropics had somehow found a way to plate four runs of their own, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and posting a 7-6 win. That win guaranteed a trip to the finals.
Upper Perk will get a chance at revenge Wednesday when they face Newtown for the state title. The Braves will need to win both games to claim the crown.