Braves' third baseman Tom Aaron reaches to make the tag on Boyertown's Zach Moser in Sunday afternoon's game at Boyertown.
The Upper Perkiomen Braves baseball team started the season with one goal in mind, making the Tri-County League playoffs - something an Upper Perk Braves team hasn’t done in several years.
They accomplished that task two weeks ago when they defeated Phoenixville. Last Saturday the Braves were only three outs away from knocking off top-seeded Spring City in the first round of the league tournament, when Bandits' catcher Shane Emrich sent a 2-2 pitch over the left field fence that resulted in a 4-3 win for Spring City.
The game-winning homerun was devastating, and the impact of it lasted way beyond the long walk to the parking lot. In fact, it appeared to carry right over into the Braves second game on Sunday when they fell to the Boyertown Grizzlies, 10-0, on their field.
“Saturday's loss had a big influence on today’s game," said Braves' head coach Perry Breyer. "As coaches we tried to instill the fact that the Spring City game was over and done with, and that we needed to play today’s game with the same intensity we showed yesterday. To get over that type of loss in less than 24 hours is asking an awful lot from a group of 14- and 15-year-old boys.”
As forgettable as the last six innings of the season may have been, the first six innings of the tournament were just as memorable starting with pitcher Levi Stoudt who was masterful.
Stoudt (6IP-3H-2ER-2BB-2K) kept the potent Spring City offense off balance all afternoon as he needed only 78 pitches to get through his six innings of work.
Tom Aaron anchored the Braves' offense with a perfect day at the plate. Aaron (3-3 2R-1RBI, including a pair of doubles) scored the Braves first run in the fourth inning that tied the game 1-1. Aaron was at the heart of the Braves' attack again in the sixth when he doubled home Eric Stalford to tie the game, 2-2. He scored the go ahead run on a suicide squeeze by Josh Fell.
Fell, who laid down the perfect bunt that put the Braves ahead, also drove in Aaron with the team's first run with a two-out single.
Fell's squeeze bunt would be the last bright spot of the 2012 Braves season, but Breyer was focusing on the big picture after Sunday’s loss.
“Our goal this year was to make the playoffs and we accomplished that. My biggest concern going into the season was whether or not the young players would be able to catch up to the speed of the game and they obviously did. It was the mental part that took them a few weeks to grasp. We are a young team with seven 14-year-olds starting. All the boys played great baseball. They worked their butts off to get here. I wish it could have ended a little better for the older boys, but at this point all we can do is try to get back again next year.”
The Braves closed out the regular season with a record of 9-9 in league play and were 11-15 overall including their two playoff losses.