The third time certainly proved the charm for the Upper Perk Braves Monday night.
In two previous outings Phoenixville bested the Braves by scores of 11-1 and 4-2.
But in the third meeting between the two teams, and in the game that mattered most in terms of the Twin County League standings and Junior Legion playoffs, things changed.
“I knew right from the onset that the kids had the right attitude,” said manager Perry Breyer. “As soon as I saw them tonight I knew they were focused and ready to go.”
The game pitted the top two teams in the league, with a regular season Twin County League title in the balance and an ever-important berth in a Junior Legion regional tournament.
And the Braves took full advantage of its third match-up against Phoenixville, using a huge fourth inning to propel the team to a 7-4 victory at Bonekemper Field.
The first three innings flew by as both teams struggled to put base runners aboard. But all of that changed in the bottom of the fourth.
That fourth inning included a little bit of everything: four base hits, a pair of walks, a sacrifice bunt, hit batsman and a triple as the Braves batted around the lineup. It all added up to a seven-run surge that proved all of the offense Upper Perk would need.
Josh Fell got things started as he led off with a single to center field, followed by a walk, sacrifice bunt and another walk to load the bases. Shortstop Levi Stoudt worked a full count, then singled past Phoenixville’s diving shortstop to plate the first run.
Grant Templeton was hit by a pitch in the next at-bat to bring in another run and Jake Breyer drove in two runs as he singled down the left-field line to open up a 4-0 lead. Tom Aaron didn’t leave Breyer on base long as he blasted a triple that rolled to the warning track in left field. And Fell, who started the inning off, appropriately closed it out as his bloop single to left brought in the final run.
“It was an all-around team effort, everyone contributed,” Breyer said. “The key was getting it started, once we got it started we just kept on rolling.”
Phoenixville, to its credit, didn’t back down. The visitors responded in their next at bat by scoring four runs. They threatened again in the seventh inning, putting two runners aboard with the tying run at the plate. But Braves reliever Eric Stalford forced a pair of fly-outs, then closed up shop with a strikeout on a called third strike. Starter Jake Breyer hurled 4 1/3 solid innings, yielding three runs in the fifth inning.
“That big inning was huge, it was the turning point of the game but we knew Phoenixville is a team that wouldn’t go down easy,” Perry Breyer said. “And they didn’t, they battled until the end.”
The Braves’ season will continue in the upcoming four-team league playoffs, and in a to-be-determined regional tournament.
“This group of boys has stuck together,” Breyer said. “They’ve been through the ups and downs of the season and did a great job.”