Kutztown rallies to beat Tamaqua
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS The Tamaqua Legion team talks things over during last night's Schuylkill-Berks championship game against Kutztown. The Blue Sox fell 12-6 to see their season come to an end.
READING - Tamaqua had no trouble making contact with the baseball during the first Schuylkill-Berks Legion championship game.
The problems for the Blue Sox were on the mound and defensive end.
The Northern Division champions committed six errors and surrendered eight walks, as well as two hit batsmen, which helped Southern champ Kutztown overcome an early deficit for a 12-6 victory Tuesday night at First Energy Stadium, home of the Class AA Reading Phillies.
Kutztown (23-1) now advances to the Region II Tournament, which begins Saurday at West Lawn, while the Blue Sox concluded Legion play with a 14-6 record.
The two teams had squared off previously in an interdivisional game on June 26, with Kutztown winning by a 4-3 count.
The Blue Sox, who outhit Kutztown 12-11, jumped out to a 3-0 lead and were still on top at 4-3 in the sixth when the Cougars pushed across four runs and took the lead for good.
"I was a little concerned after the first five innings when it was tied, and then they got a run to go up 4-3," said Kutztown coach Chuck Ciganick. "That puts pressure on you, and you start thinking, are we going to do the job? Thankfully, we did it."
Tamaqua took a 1-0 lead in the first when Chris Pilla beat out an infield hit, stole second, went to third on Ty Rother's grounder to second and scored on another infield hit, one by Mike Streisel.
In the second, Toby Rosen and Adam Smarr singled, and while Rosen was thrown out at third, Ryan Palsgrove walked and scored on Tyler Milot's single. Jay Pilla doubled home Palsgrove to make it 3-0.
The Cougars cut it to 3-2 in the bottom of the frame with only one hit, a lead-off double by Mike Gernert, as Blue Sox starting hurler Milot walked three and Brian Stump reached on an error at second to keep the inning alive.
"We definitely kept up with them in hits, and we only struck out twice, but when you have eight walks and six errors, that's not going to cut it in a championship game against a good team," said Tamaqua Head Coach Mark Streisel.
"I'm pleased, but disappointed. We knew that we weren't going to 10-run them. They are good team, but we are just as good."
Pitcher Caleb Wessner, who helped his own cause by going 3-for-5 with three RBI, slugged a solo homer to left in the third to tie it at three.
The Blue Sox moved back in front in the fifth when Jay Pilla doubled and crossed the plate on Chris Pilla's single up the middle.
In the Kutztown sixth, Brian Stump walked, and Brett Hauck reached on an error at third. Andrew Gernert singled home Stump to tie the score, and Aaron Ebling's two-run double gave the Cougars their first lead at 6-4.
Mike Streisel relieved Milot. Wessner singled, putting runners on the corners and the Cougars pulled off a double steal to make it 7-4.
The Blue Sox pulled within 7-5 in the seventh on singles by Milot and Chris Pilla, a fielder's choice by Jay Pilla and Rother's RBI grounder, but the Cougars answered with three run in the bottom half, with the key blow Wessner's two-run single, to assume command at 10-5.
Andrew Gernert pitched the final two innings to nail down the win and the Schuylkill-Berks crown.
Andrew and Mike Gernert each had a pair of hits and Kyle Isamoyer an RBI triple for the Cougars.
Chris Pilla went 4-for-5 and Jay Pilla doubled twice for the Blue Sox, who also got two singles from Milot and singles from Rosen, Mike Streisel, Smarr and Derek Linkhorst.
Despite the loss, the Blue Sox got to experience playing on a big stage. The game drew a paid crowd of just over 400.
"This was probably the most relaxed team I've seen before the game," said Mark Streisel. "They showed the kids the locker room, and they were out there playing 'flip'. I told them to enjoy it, because you never know if you will get here again."
Tamaqua 120 010 101 - 6 12 6
Kutztown 021004 32x - 12 11 0
Milot, Streisel, C. Pilla (9) and James; Wessner, A. Gernert (8) and Weil. W - Wessner; L - Milot. HR - K:Wessner (third inning, none on).