A magical season came to an end last Wednesday afternoon for the Upper Perkiomen Braves youth legion baseball team when they fell to the Newtown Tropics in the championship round of the PA. State tournament by a score of 5-1.
The Braves had earned a shot at the title with a 6-4 come from behind win over Murrysville the night before. Newtown had cruised into the championship game with an 18-7 win over Bloomsburg.
Things seemed to favor the Tropics heading into the championship game. For starters they had pulled of an amazing comeback two nights earlier when they had rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to hand the Braves their first loss of the tournament. Second they had experience on their side as their roster contained six players from last year’s team which played Spring City in the state championship only to finish second. Last they were undefeated meaning the Braves would need to win both games against the Tropics to win the tournament.
Though the deck may have been slightly stacked against them the Braves sent a message early that they were not going to go down without a fight as a two out rally in the bottom of the first inning would give Upper Perk a 1-0 lead.
Erik Stalford drew a two out walk. Jake Breyer followed with a single to left field. Tom Aaron would follow with another single that plated Stalford with the first run of the game.
Newtown would tie the game at 1-1 with a two out single off the bat of Matt Cabo in the fourth inning. In the top of the sixth the Tropics would take their first lead of the game at 2-1 leaving the Braves only two more opportunities to keep their season alive.
Upper Perks offense which had struggled since the opening inning didn’t produce a base runner in their half of the sixth inning. When Newtown rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh it left the Tropics just three outs away from their first ever state title. When The Braves went down 1-2-3 in the home seventh the incredible run that was the 2013 baseball season had come to an end.
The Braves were out hit in the championship game 8-4. Two of those hits came off the bat of Tom Aaron who was 5-7 and hit .714 for the tournament. Josh Fell (6-15-5R-6RBI-.400) and Mike Felix (6-16-5R-.375) lead the Braves offense over the team’s five games. Levi Stoudt had 5RBI 3R and David Gehman 4R-4RBI had solid performances at the plate. Elias Gabel-Tripp tied for the team lead in runs scored with 5. Jake Breyer scored 4 runs and picked up a win on the mound allowing only one earned run. Zach Miller was stellar in relief picking up a win while not allowing an earned run in his 5.2 innings of work. Erik Stalford also picked up a win and was solid throughout the tournament as he led the Braves pitchers (10IP-8H-3R-2ER-5BB-3K) while batting .294 (5-17-3R-2RBI). The Braves batted .280 (35-125) as a team over the five games. They finished the season with an overall record of 32-9.
It was Upper Perks first trip to the state championship tournament since 1994 and equaled the organization best finish since 1991 when they also finished as the state runner up. The team’s first trip to the state tournament occurred in the early 1980’s when the Upper Perkiomen Kiwanis Organization officially took over the sponsorship of the baseball program. The Upper Perkiomen Kiwanis Organization to this day continues their commitment to the youth of the Upper Perkiomen Valley through their sponsorship of the baseball program.