Upper Perk catcher Daulton Breyer reaches to tag out a Boyertown base runner caught between third and home during the season opener Monday at Upper Perk.
The Upper Perk baseball team squandered a chance to open the season with a statement win against defending PAC-10 champion Boyertown on Monday at frigid Bonekemper Field.
The Tribe dropped an extra-inning 5-2 decision despite holding a 2-0 lead with two out and no one on in the top of the seventh.
Starting pitcher Chris Kachmar's two-out sixth inning RBI single – which scored Erik Stalford (infield single) and Brandon Frickman (double) – had staked the Tribe to that lead.
Kachmar and Stalford had also combined to shut the Bears down on just one hit heading into the seventh.
When Boyertown's Tyler Werner led off the top of the seventh with a single, Upper Perk manager Frank Mercon called on Jake Breyer to try and finish the game. Things started well as Breyer got pinch-hitter Tyler Comport to bounce to first, advancing Werner – who stole second – to third base.
With Wes Fox at the plate, Breyer uncorked a wild pitch. Catcher Daulton Breyer pounced on the ball and flipped it to his brother Jake at the plate to nail Werner, and a Tribe victory seemed all but assured.
But Fox drew a walk and Dalton Hughes lined a single. The next hitter, Austin Madeja, battled Breyer through a nine-pitch at bat before bouncing an infield single up the middle on a 3-2 pitch, scoring Fox and cutting the deficit to 2-1. Zach Moser was next, and he roped a single on a 1-1 pitch to plate Hughes and tie the game.
The Tribe had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the inning when a Jake Breyer single and Daulton Breyer double put runners at second and third with one out. However, Zach Zappo struck out and Dante Dibrigida grounded out to short against reliever James Buckley.
The fateful ninth began with a Dan Purnell single just past the glove of third baseman Stalford and a perfectly placed bunt single by Fox.
Hughes sacrificed the runners before Madeja was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Moser smacked the next pitch to right to hand the Bears the lead. Brandon Greisemer grounded to second, but Matt Tice's throw to the plate was late and Boyertown had a 4-2 lead.
Another run would be scored after Matt McCarney was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
The Tribe did not go quietly into the freezing night, loading the bases on singles by Daron Pijanowski, Daulton Breyer, and Zappo, but Debrigida's hard grounder to third was turned into a game ending force out.
Coach Mercon, who believes that this year's title chase once again goes through Boyertown, was not mollified by the near miss.
"We couldn't pull it out. To be a winning program you got to win those games, and until we start winning those games, we're not going to get over the hump of being a .500 team," Mercon said.
The Tribe enters the season with hopes of making the PAC-10's Final Four and the District 1AAA playoffs.
The optimism begins with a deep pitching staff led by junior Kachmar (3-0, 3.39 ERA last season) and a veteran presence of nine returning varsity players.
Kachmar battled the temperatures and the Bears through four scoreless innings on Monday. The junior righty issued four walks and hit a batter but struck out five and did not allow a hit.
"He was good, but I know he's better," Mercon said. "He's the real deal. He's going to carry us."
Stalford, also a junior, was 1-0 in limited varsity work last season.
Offensively, the Tribe will have to overcome the loss of leading hitter Ian Benz, who had surgery for a torn labrum over the winter and will probably miss the entire season.
Against Boyertown, Stalford, Frickman and Kachmar manned the 3-4-5 spots.
"Our goal is to approach each game one at a time and never look ahead," Mercon said. "We will work hard to be competitive and try to win each game."