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Braves Eliminated on Final Day of Youth Legion State Tournament
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2021-07-28

            The Upper Perk Kiwanis Jr. Legion team reached the final day of the Pennsylvania Youth State Tournament. However, the team fell two wins short of a title.

            Following a 7-3 season-ending loss to Connellsville in the semifinal round of the tournament in Berwick, manager Rick Rossiter told his players to focus on their many successes over the summer. "I can't remember a team this age winning this many games in one season," Rossiter said. "The boys had a heck of a lot of accomplishments."

            The Braves (29-10) reeled off three consecutive victories after falling 6-4 to Northampton in the tournament's opening round on Saturday, July 25. However, they were forced to settle for third place after losing to Connellsville, from Westmoreland County Junior Legion, on Wednesday morning.

            Down 7-1, they loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one-out, Drew Graf delivered a line drive up the middle. Rossiter figured the hit would drive in two more runs and extend the rally. However, Connellsville pitcher Kace Shearer snagged the ball and converted it into an inning-ending double play.

            Upper Perk managed just five hits overall. According to Rossiter, his team struggled at the plate against Shearer, who lasted six innings.

            "We couldn't hit him," said the manager, whose team managed single runs in the second, sixth and seventh innings.

            Connellsville scored twice in the fourth inning off Gavin Weiss to snap a 1-1 tie. The team added four runs in the top of the sixth.

            The Braves recovered from a 6-4 extra-inning loss to Northampton in their tourney opener on Saturday, July 25. They squandered a 4-0 lead after five innings.

            The Bombers took advantage of four Upper Perk errors to score six unearned runs. They scored twice in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Aidan Keyser absorbed the loss, allowing two unearned runs over 1 2/3 innings in relief.

            Weiss, Upper Perk's starting pitcher, left the mound after five innings with a 4-0 lead. He did not allow a hit and registered five strikeouts.

            Rossiter said he lifted Weiss, after 65 pitches, with the intent of bringing him back to throw on the final day of the tournament. He said he figured a four-run lead would be enough of a cushion.

            "We were cruising," Rossiter said. "But the wheels just fell off."

            Isaac Bugman finished with a team-high three hits for the Braves, who opened the scoring in the bottom of the first on Braden Rieg's line single to left. They added three additional runs in the fifth. Bugman's RBI hit capped the flurry.

             An outfield error opened the door for Northampton to score twice in the sixth. Rieg permitted a pair of run-scoring hits.

            In the seventh, two infield errors allowed the Bombers to score twice. Keyser permitted the two-out single that forced extra innings.

            One inning later, another infield error set up the decisive rally. Jimmy Gallagher's groundout drove in the decisive run. An RBI-double by Northampton's Zach Neeld capped the scoring.

            On Sunday, Upper Perk utilized a late rally to stave off elimination. The team rallied for four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to post a 5-4 victory over Spring City. Weiss drove in the decisive run on a four-pitch walk.

            "The win gave us a lot of confidence," Rossiter said.

            The Braves, who were down 4-0 after four innings, overcame a 4-1 deficit in their final at-bat. They posted just two hits during the sixth inning, taking advantage of three walks, two hit batsmen, a passed ball and a balk against Red Sox pitcher Matthew Zollers.

            Rieg's RBI double in the fifth inning got Upper Perk on the scoreboard. The hit scored Bugman, who reached on an infield single.

            Jack Schramm earned the mound victory. The Braves committed just one error behind Schramm, who worked into the seventh. Owen Williams recorded the final two outs to save the game.

            On Monday, the Braves rolled to a 10-1 victory over Conneaut, from the northwest section of the state. They scored in five of their six at-bats, posted eight hits and stole seven bases.

            Bugman and Schramm each finished with two hits for Upper Perk which scored four runs in the second inning and led 6-0 through the fourth. Tyler Forrest and Zach Mayza each drove in runs. Owen Williams scored three runs and stole two bases.

            Upper Perk's defense did not commit an error behind Rieg, who went the distance on the mound. Rieg allowed just five hits and one earned run on 75 pitches.

            On Tuesday, the Braves offense worked 14 walks in a 10-7 victory over Penn-Trafford, the last undefeated team in the tournament. Keyser finished with a team-high three hits and drove in three runs.

            Williams added two hits for Upper Perk, which took command of the game with a four-run rally in the fifth inning to snap a 4-4 tie.

            Keyser earned the mound victory, working into the sixth inning. The Braves, who finished with nine hits, overcame four errors.


 

 

 

 

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