PERKASIE - The Tamaqua Blue 9-10's knew they had their backs to the wall.
Finding themselves in the Section 6 9-10 Little League championship game at the Pennridge Little League complex on Friday night against a Warwick team that beat them 18-2 on Wednesday, wasn't going to be an easy task.
Warwick came away a 7-2 winner, earning a spot in the Pennsylvania State playoffs, but this time the Tamaqua Blue team made them work for it.
It took a five-run fourth inning, highlighted by a three- run homer by Cole Nehring, for Warwick to distance itself from the District 18 champion.
"The kids come to play," said Tamaqua manager Scott Hamm afterwards. "Don't take anything away from Warwick, they're a good team. They're together 10 months out of the year and our all star team is picked two weeks before the tournament begins. We shut them down and I think we scared them a little bit tonight."
Cody Hamm got the nod on the mound for Tamaqua Blue and held his own through the first four innings, giving up just two runs in the first inning on two hits.
Brett Mallech hit a one-out double and scored on a single to right by Mike Ferrera. Ferrera moved to second on a throw to try and get Mallech at the plate, stole third and scored when John Gifford was being throw out at second.
It stayed that way until the fifth inning when Warwick sent seven men to the plate and used some smart baserunning to put the five runs on the board.
With one out, Shane Sloms singled to left, stole second, moved to third on a passed ball after John Kieler walked and scored on a single by Sam Reynolds. Kieler also scored on the single to give Warwick a four-run lead. Ryan Ford was safe on a bunt single. Reynolds was caught in a rundown between third and home for the second out as Justin Yates reached on a sacrifice. Nehring followed with his long blast to left-center for a 7-0 lead.
Tamaqua bounced right back with a run in the bottom of the inning as Braydon Knoblauch drew a walk, moved to second on a single by Derian Stianche, reached third on a passed ball and scored on a single by Brady Moyer.
In the fifth inning, Tamaqua added another run as Matthew Gadzick reached on an infield single, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch.
The locals tried to rally in the bottom of the sixth off of relief pitcher Sam Reynolds and actually got a couple of runners on base when Stianche was hit by a pitch and Moyer walked. Reynolds settled down to strikeout the next two batters and that ended it.
Gifford got the win, while Hamm took the loss.
"I think we were in the game, our pitching was strong and Cody did a very good job through five innings," Hamm said. "I watched a lot of these kids play from Biddy League on up and they play good. Our strong part is our defense. Our sticks came up a little bit light, but I'm proud of these kids.
"We won the District 18 South, we won the District 18 title outright and we came down here and won a couple of games and went toe-to-toe with Warwick, who could probably be the state champ for the second straight year when it's all over."
With six nine year olds in the starting lineup, look for Tamaqua to be back and give it another run in 2012.
Warwick 200 500 - 7 7 2
Tam. Blue 000 110 - 2 4 1
Gifford, Reynolds (6) and Nehring; Hamm, Kistler (5) and Breiner, Stianche (4). WP - Gifford. HR: Warwick - Nehring (4th, two on).