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Sports Article
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Malvern Prep Rolls Over Panthers in State Title Game
Written by Bradley Schlegel Correspondent

The Panthers' Levi Stoudt plows up a cloud of dust as he dives back to the bag while the Haverford first baseman stretches to catch a wild throw in Saturday's semifinal round of the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association state tournament.

        Josh Cruz pitched Perkiomen School's baseball team into Saturday night's Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association state tournament championship game by defeating Haverford School.

        However, in a rematch with defending champion Malvern Prep at Upper Perkiomen High School, Panthers' starter Devon Crossin ran into a third-inning jam.

        The top-seeded Friars scored four runs during the inning at Bonekemper Field en route to defending their title with a 7-2 victory.

        "Getting back here was tough," Perkiomen School head coach Ken Baker said after losing in the state final for the second straight season. "It took quite a bit of effort. We don't always play games with this kind of intensity during the regular season."

        On Saturday, the third-seeded Panthers (20-5) started their day by defeating Haverford School, 4-1, in the semifinal round. Cruz went the distance in the mound, scattering five hits while striking out two and issuing just one walk.

        "For a sophomore, Josh is pretty tough," Baker said of Cruz, who threw 65 of his 90 pitches for strikes. "He's quite a competitor."

        Cruz, who got most of his outs on a splitter or a changeup, allowed two runners in the seventh. Following a mound visit from Baker, he induced a game-ending ground ball to first.

        "I told (Baker) 'I got this,'" said Cruz, who admitted that he was tiring in the seventh. "He has faith in me. I was able to keep my elbow up and the ball down (in the strike zone.)"

        Alex Soriano delivered two hits for Perkiomen School, which overcame an 1-0 deficit by scoring unearned runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

        Javi Quinones, who reached on an infield error leading off the fifth, eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Cruz.

        In the sixth, Levi Stoudt worked a one-out walk, took third on an errant pickoff throw and came home on Saul DeLeon's single to left field.

        The Panthers added two more runs in the seventh off Haverford School reliever Justin Meyer on hits by Cruz and Tom Aaron.

        In Saturday's title game, they scored the first run. Cruz led off the game with a walk, was sacrificed to second, stole third and scored on an errant throw by Malvern Prep catcher Clay Koniencki.

        But the Friars responded by scoring once in the second inning and four times in the third to go ahead 5-1 against Crossin, Perkiomen School's junior lefthander.

        They opened the third inning with four consecutive hits, including a line drive off Crossin's leg by Chris Butera and a bunt hit by Chance DiFebbo.

        Tim Quinn's single put Malvern Prep ahead for good. Two hitters later, Mark Gentilotti's two-run double forced Baker to make a pitching change.

        Baker said he probably should have made the pitching change sooner in the third, but decided to stick with Crossin, who tossed a five-inning perfect game against Westtown School in the first round of the state tournament on May 19.

        "Taking out a pitcher is not an exact science," Baker said.

        Meanwhile, Perkiomen School's offense managed three hits, including an RBI single in the seventh by Stoudt, against Butera, the Friars pitcher.

        On Thursday, the Panthers advanced to the semifinals with a 5-3 victory over Penn Charter in the quarterfinal round of the tournament.

        Stoudt tossed a complete-game victory at Baker Field. He allowed just one earned run and five hits.

        Stoudt, who pitched out of trouble in the fifth inning, induced a double-play ground ball in the seventh inning to end the game and quell a rally by the Quakers.






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