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Sports Article
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Braves Rally to Win Regional Tournament
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

The Upper Perk Kiwanis Jr. Legion team celebrates its Jonestown Youth Legion Region-

al Tournament title.  The team qualified for the PA Youth Legion State Trounament in

Berwick, which begins Saturday.


            In between two lopsided victories, the Upper Perk Kiwanis Jr. Legion team rallied late to notch a pair of exciting victories at the Jonestown Youth Legion Regional Tournament. The final one, a 10-8 victory over Perk Valley on Monday, secured the tourney crown and vaulted the team into the Pennsylvania Youth Legion State Tournament.

            The Braves (27-8) rallied from a 5-0 deficit and overcame seven errors to qualify for their first state tournament since 2013. Braden Rieg scored the decisive run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning on a wild pitch. Gavin Weiss capped a four-run rally by scoring on the next pitch, ruled a passed ball against the Perk Valley catcher.

            "The game had a lot of everything," Upper Perk manager Rick Rossiter said. "It was exciting, but it didn't need to be.

            The players celebrated with a dogpile on the infield following the final out, a strikeout by Braden Rieg of Luke Doering. According to Rossiter, his team has a legitimate chance to win a state title.  "It's right there for the taking," Rossiter said.

            Upper Perk opens play in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament in Berwick at 9 a.m. Saturday against Northampton, which won the regional tournament hosted by the Boyertown Bear Cubs.

            In its regional tournament, the Braves, playing without a trio of regulars who suffered season-ending injuries, relied on a potent offense and late-inning heroics to complete a 4-0 flurry. They averaged more than nine runs per game. 

"The hitters have really picked it up," Rossiter said. "The bottom of the lineup has done a good job putting the ball in play."

            The team's first bit of drama came in its first game, an 8-7 victory over Mt. Airy on Friday. The team allowed six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

            However, they rallied for the decisive run in the top of the eighth inning on consecutive hits by Aidan Keyser (double) and Owen Wilson (single). On the mound, Keyser retired the side to secure the win.

            Over the next two days, the Braves posted lopsided victories. On Saturday, Gavin Weiss pitched them to a 10-0 victory over Berwick in six innings. He allowed just one hit and registered 12 strikeouts.

            The following day, they rolled to a 9-0 victory over the Hazleton Stripes and Strikes in the semifinal round. Keyser tossed 6 2/3 innings to record the win. Weiss finished with two hits and drove in four runs. Tyler Forrest added two hits and two RBI.

            In Monday's title game, the Raiders used a four-run rally in the top of the third inning to build a 5-0 lead. However, Upper Perkiomen responded with three runs in the bottom of third and the fourth innings to go ahead 6-5.

            Perk Valley regained its lead with three additional runs in the top of the fifth. Drew Kenworthy's run-scoring double staked the team to an 8-6 edge.

            However, the Braves mounted the decisive rally in the sixth. Isaac Bugman started the rally with a single to left. He took second on a walk to Brody Weiss and scored on Rieg's bunt hit. Gavin Weiss' bunt single forced an 8-8 tie.

            Then, with Zach Mayza at the plate with two outs and the bases loaded, Rieg and Gavin Weiss scored without a hit to snap the tie. In the top of the seventh, the Raiders put runners on first and third with two outs. However, Rieg recorded the final out.

            "The players have the mindset that they can come back at any time," Rossiter said. "It does not matter what the other team is doing."






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