ALLENTOWN At school on Thursday Pleasant Valley baseball coach Karl Rentzheimer was asked by athletic director Jake Percey how he felt about his team's District 11 title game that night.
"I said 'I think we have to swing the bats early,'" Rentzheimer said. "'If we do that, with [Pat Kregeloh] on the mound, I think they're going to feel defeated a little bit and our guys are going to feel really, really confident.'"
The Bears followed that script. They took a 2-0 lead after an inning and made it 5-0 after three. Kregeloh threw a 2-hit shut out and the team hoisted its first district title trophy since 1984.
"That means so much to us," said second baseman Drew Borger. "Not only as a baseball team, but as a school. In our history we've had four district titles and to have three of them in baseball, it just means so much to the program."
Pleasant Valley's other title came in 1981.
"At the beginning of the season our coach brought us in front of the banner in our gym," said Kregeloh. "He said this year is our year to make our mark on history, which we did."
Just like their coach hoped, the Bears (22-3) jumped on Parkland starter Matt Smith early. Derek Walling led off the game with a double and Borger followed with an RBI single for a 1-0 lead. Borger scored on a Parkland error. At the time he thought his team might need more runs.
"I thought this was going to be a high-scoring game," Borger said. "To shut them out and score five runs against their good pitching staff, it was just a great day."
Rentzheimer couldn't have planned a better start.
"We thought that was really paramount," he said. "All we talked about was we had to be aggressive with the bats. We had to be aggressive early in the game and not take pitches. We knew that Matt Smith and Casey Cooperman, whoever they threw, they were going to be right around the plate."
Kregeloh was already settled in by the second inning, when he walked the lead-off hitter then fanned the next four batters he faced. He allowed at least one base runner in five of the seven innings, but only one got past second base. He had a no hitter going until Matt Tulio singled to start the fifth.
Kregeloh's line showed two hits, 10 strike outs and four walks. He came into the game with a .48 ERA and managed to lower it.
"He had a good breaking ball today and we didn't make any adjustments to it," said Parkland head coach Tony Galucy.
Kregeloh liked his team's 2-run lead.
"It makes a pitcher feel 10 times more comfortable," he said. "You get to relax and settle in."
He loved when it when up 5-0. "Then I'm coasting for the rest of the game," he said.
Kregeloh started the big third inning when he reached base on an error, one of four committed by the Trojans. Back to back singles by Jake Chamberlain and Chris Kershner drove in one run and caused Galucy to pull Smith in favor of the Bloomsburg-bound Cooperman, who had been the Trojans' workhorse in last year's run to the state title game.
Pleasant Valley's Tim Shea greeted Cooperman with a two-run double for a 5-0 lead.
Borger and Walling finished with two hits each for the Bears.
Pleasant Valley will open state tournament play Monday against District 1's third place team.