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Sports Article
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11U Indians Fall Short of State Title
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Inclement weather spoiled the opening night of the Upper Perk Youth Baseball Association's foray into hosting a 16-team post-season tournament. When heavy rains

Upper Perk Indians 11U Owin Brunner slides into third

base safely on a steal in Saturday morning's game against

Upper Merion.

cancelled the opening ceremony and a skills competition midway through, tournament director Colin Ewing feared it might mean the Pennsylvania Cal Ripken 11u Southeast State Championship Tournament would be plagued by rain.

            However, the tourney concluded on time Tuesday night with the host team forced to watch Hilltop clinch the title. Hilltop, the No. 1 seed from District 1, defeated Nether Swarthmore 5-0.

            The tournament champion clinched an automatic berth in the Cal Ripken 11u World Series in Jensen Beach, Fla. later this year. One night earlier, Hilltop eliminated Upper Perk 1-0 on a walk off single in the bottom of the sixth inning in the semifinal round. "That's what makes this loss hurt a little bit more," Indians manager Matt Weiss said.

            Ewing called it one of 10-best games he's ever seen played at Kistler Bitting Park. "The play during the game by all the players, and the stakes of the game, were all off the chart," he said.

            Hilltop scored the game's only run on a single with the bases loaded by Michael Falcone. The team loaded the bases on a one-out double, a balk and two intentional walks.

            "I didn't think we were going to lose until the ball went into the outfield," manager Weiss said final hit.

            A matchup between Hilltop and the host Indians, who won the District 6 title, in the tournament round was inevitable, according to Weiss. He described them as the two best teams in the state.

            Ryan Sink tossed five shutout innings for Upper Perk. He scattered five hits and struck out four. Hilltop's Gavin McClafferty went the distance on the mound, permitting just three hits.

            "We expected to score," said Weiss, a 1991 graduate of Upper Perkiomen High School. "We expected to be on the other side. We are most effective when we get the leadoff runner on. We like to run. We just didn't get enough leadoff hitters on."

            The Indians, who captured the 10u state title last season, won their initial four games with relative ease. In pool play on Saturday and Sunday, they posted lopsided victories over Upper Merion (15-1), Springfield (10-0) and Centennial (11-3). In the quarterfinal round Sunday afternoon, they defeated Quakertown 6-3 to advance to the semifinals.

            Weiss described the players, who have been together for four seasons, as dedicated to the game. He called them the "hungriest" group he has ever seen. "There are no off days," the manager said.

            According to Ewing, the organization requested to host the tournament after the 10u won a similar tournament last summer in East Brandywine. He said they utilized a third field, at the Milford Township Municipal Building, to handle the additional games. Rain on Saturday forced two suspended games to be completed the next day, according to Weiss.

            "It was a lot of work, but we got it done," he said.

            The organization, which usually hosts four to five invitational tournaments annually, needed additional help to keep pitch counts and for scorekeeping, according to Ewing. He said it relied on fathers to help prepare the fields for each game, and several mothers volunteered to work the snack stand at the park.

            "Everyone did such an incredible job," the tournament director said.

            The Upper Perk Youth Baseball Association has submitted a request to host the Cal Ripken 11u state tournament and the 12u Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in 2020, according to Ewing. He said the sites will be announced in October.






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