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Sports Article
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Panthers Win 25th Consecutive League Title
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

Players Eye a Bigger Prize

            Perkiomen School's baseball team capped off a quarter century of dominance last week. The team's focus quickly shifted to capturing its first state title.

            According to co-captain David Smith, the Panthers (16-4) possess the necessary experience and intangibles to win the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association Tournament, which begins May 21.

            "The past few years were growing seasons," said Smith, a Collegeville resident and one of two four-year starters. "Everyone knows the goal and really wants it."

            Perkiomen School, which appears to have recovered from a mercy-rule non-league home loss to the Hun School last month, heads into the 12-team tournament on a five-game winning streak. The No. 4 seed will receive first-round bye before facing either Germantown Friends or Friends Central at home on Thursday, May 23. The tourney is scheduled to conclude two days later at Upper Perkiomen High School.

            On Wednesday, May 8, the Panthers defeated Collegium Charter School 11-0 in the Tri-County Independent School League Championship game for their 25th consecutive league title under head coach Ken Baker. 

            Manny Azaria dominated the visiting Cougars on the mound. He registered 10 strikeouts in five innings, retiring the final 14 hitters he faced after allowing pair of singles to open the game.

            Owen Taylor and Tony Holden each finished with two hits for Perkiomen School. David Smith and Zach Smith each scored twice.

            Taylor and Holden each registered a run-scoring single during a three-run rally. The team added two runs on two errors in the second inning. David Smith's home run to center field and Azaria's two-run double highlighted a six-run flurry in the fourth inning.

            "I would like to think the culture we have created has played a role in the success we've had over the years," Baker said.

            The players didn't do much celebrating after the win. According to David Smith, that behavior is not a sign that the accomplishment is not appreciated. 

            "It's what we are expecting to do," he said. "It's our goal. The coaches want us to act professionally."

            David Smith expressed certainty that the Panthers would struggle to maintain their emotions should they win a state title. He said would mean "everything" to the school, the coaches, the players and their fans. 

"It would mean more than the world to us," he said.

            On Thursday, May 9, the Panthers continued to prepare for states with a 7-2 victory over Scotland Campus, from Chambersburg. David Smith homered twice and finished with five RBI, giving him home runs in three consecutive at-bats.

             Pow scored three runs for Perkiomen School, which rallied from a 3-0 early deficit. Jayden Kemp added a double. Zach Smith tossed three shutout innings in relief to notch the victory. 

            Since the 14-2 six-inning, home loss to the Hun School on April 23, the players have focused on the basics that have made the program successful, according to Baker. The coach said he knew the team could recover.

            "We're going to have to go through the low points to get to the high points," he said.
            Following a 9-0 victory over Friends Central on Tuesday, May 7, Baker said he knew his team was back on the right path.

            "We scored five runs off a good pitcher and drove the ball from gap to gap," the coach said. "On defense, we played clean baseball."

            David Smith called it the team's best performance of the season. "We showed we could play with anybody," he said.







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