ALLENTOWN Out of all the baseball games Pat Kregeloh has pitched in his four-year career at Pleasant Valley, Thursday's was undoubtedly the biggest.
As the Bears took the field at Coca Cola Park in search of their first district championship in 26 years, head coach Karl Rentzheimer rested the fate of his squad on the right arm of Kregeloh - and rightfully so. After all, his ace led the team in both wins (7) and ERA (0.48).
And, much like he has done his whole career, Kregeloh did not disappoint.
The senior took the hill against Parkland in the District 11 AAAA title game and delivered with yet another gem - throwing a complete game shutout and helping his team to a 5-0 victory. Despite playing in front of a lot more fans in a much bigger ballpark, Kregeloh acted as if it was just any other game.
"I was thinking the same thing I think before every game," said Kregeloh. "I am going out here and trying to pitch the best game I have ever pitched. If I do my job then there is going to be a bunch of zeros up on that board."
The future Shippensburg Raider struck out six of the first nine batters he faced and finished with 10 punch outs for the game. He continuously snapped off his curveball and successfully mixed in his mid-80s fastball to get the majority of his strikeouts.
Of the 27 batters Kregeloh faced, only three managed to hit the ball out of the infield. Two of those balls were fly outs to right field and center field respectively. The third was a single to right. For the game, he allowed just two hits and four walks and only once did a Parkland runner get as far as third base.
"My curveball was working great," Kregeloh confirmed. "Then when I mix in my fastball a couple of times they didn't know it is coming because I was throwing my curveball a lot. (Parkland) didn't make their adjustments, so it was hard for them to get anything going."
Rentzheimer, who is known to try different methods of motivating his players psychologically, tried to test Kregloh's mettle earlier this week. Kregeloh wasn't having any of it.
"I said to Pat sometime this week, 'Hey Pat, you know we are going down to that big ball park'," said Rentzheimer. "And before I could even finish my sentence he goes, 'Coach, I played there already.'
"He had played here with a club team and said it's just baseball. And that's what we relayed to the rest of the guys. Once you get between the lines, baseball is baseball. Yeah, it is nice to have the big following like we did tonight, but the game is the same no matter what field you play on."
This is Rentzheimer's eighth year at the helm and 22nd as a part of the Pleasant Valley coaching staff. While he stopped short of calling Kregeloh the best overall pitcher that he has ever coached, Renztheimer did give him an even better compliment by calling him the best competitor he has ever been around.
"I don't think it would be fair to compare him to some of the other guys we have had," said Rentzheimer. "They are all different.
"What Pat brings is just a real confidence and competitive spirit. Have there been guys with better stuff yes. But as far as just being a guy and a competitor and a man out there there is nobody better."
When it comes to winning championships, Kregeloh had it tough his first three years on the team. He watched Stroudsburg win the Mountain Valley Conference title three times and was knocked out of the district playoffs earlier than expected.
Now, in his final year, he has both.
"It feels great to bring these championships back to Pleasant Valley," said Kregeloh. "We made our mark in PV history tonight."