EAST STROUDSBURG - If ESPN were covering Sunday's Mountain Valley Conference championship between Stroudsburg and Pleasant Valley, the game would have been on Instant Classic the very same night.
The MVC title game had a little bit of everything, including seven home runs, a grand slam, a dramatic bottom of the seventh inning, several run-saving diving catches and even had the potential game-winning run gunned down at the plate. Through all of that the Mounties and the Bears still needed 11 innings to decide a victor.
In the end, Stroudsburg exploded for eight runs in the 11th and ran away with the 16-8 win. It is the Mounties' first conference crown since they won three in a row from 2007 to 2009.
"I heard (UConn girls' basketball coach) Gino Auriemma talk about Maya Moore one time," said Stroudsburg head coach Phil Stokes. "He said her best attribute was that she would play the best when the game dictated it. I thought that was a really cool saying.
"There are a lot of ups and downs throughout a game. A lot of our guys had an opportunity to be at their best when the game dictated it. Our kids didn't really let any situation bother them. We were able to weather the storm in the seventh until we were able to get some runs on the board."
Pleasant Valley (13-7) was forced to play catch-up from the get-go, as Stroudsburg's Ryan Hakes connected for a three-run homer in the top of the first. It would be the first of his two home runs on the day.
The Bears responded in the bottom of the inning with a two-run homer of their own thanks to Chris Kershner. Still, the Mounties plated three more in the third to extend their lead yet again. Pleasant Valley answered once more in the same inning with back-to-back jacks from Drew Borger and Derrik Walling, but gave the runs right back an inning later.
The locals would score one in the fifth before entering the bottom of the seventh down 8-5. The rally started quickly, as Borger and Walling reached base consecutively. Kershner followed with an RBI single and managed to take second on the throw to third. Teammate Travis Raseley then came through in the clutch, as he delivered with a game-tying two-RBI single. Unfortunately, the Bears failed to score Raseley and were forced to go into extra innings.
Two innings later Kershner was thrown out at the plate while attempting to score the winning run. Dan Hrbek laced a single to Stroudsburg right fielder Ron Savioa, who charged the ball and came up throwing. Savioa threw a laser to home and was able to get the call after the home-plate umpire was knocked over while trying to watch the play.
"I give our kids a lot of credit for being down three like that and battling back," said Pleasant Valley head coach Karl Rentzheimer. "We had two chances there (late in the game). I thought Chris got around the tag at home. I'd probably do it over again. The ball was hit hard to the right fielder. He had to go to his left. The kid just made a great play."
Things fell apart for Pleasant Valley in the 11th, as the Mounties scored eight runs on four hits. Hakes hit his second full-count home run to lead things off. Phil Stokes Jr. later hit a monster grand slam over the center field wall to finish things off.
"I thought the difference early on was that Tom (Agosta) came out and wasn't sharp," said Renztheimer. "He gave up three runs early on and we were already in a hole. I don't think we competed very well in the beginning.
"My hat is off to Howie Stevens. He came in and did a heck of a job for us. He went seven innings and gave us everything he had. He gave up a home run to go down one and then the wheels fell off. It's unfortunate but it is what it is. This was one of the best games that I have ever been involved in. Unfortunately the score at the end doesn't indicate how good of a game it was."
S 303 200 000 08 - 16 16 1
PV 202 010 300 00 - 8 15 1
Bennie, Rivera (7) and Albarran; Agosta, Baldino (3), Stevens (5), Hrbek (11) and Wiesmeth. W - Rivera, L - Stevens. HR: S - Hakes 2 (1st, two on and 11th, none on), Bennie (3rd, one on), Stokes (11th, three on); PV - Kershner (1st, one on), Borger (3rd, none on), Walling (3rd, none on).
Pleasant Valley reached the championship game by coming back to defeat Lehighton in extra innings on Saturday, 8-7.
Joe Weismeth hit a lead-off home run in the eighth to tie things up. Kershner then delivered with a game-winning RBI single three batters later. The top of the eighth inning was the only time the Bears trailed in the game.
Weismeth and Kershner both had two hits for Pleasant Valley. Kershner knocked in two runs.
For Lehighton, Alex Storm had three hits.
Lehighton 000 021 01 - 4 7 0
Pleasant Vy. 300 000 02 - 5 8 3
Hill and Nalesnik; Hammond and Weismeth. W-Hammond. L-Hill. HR - Weismeth (8th, none on)