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‘Winning is Fun’
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2023-04-26

            The lineup changes implemented earlier this month appear to have transformed Upper Perkiomen's baseball team and the players have been enjoying the results.,

            "Winning is fun," said junior Braden Rieg.
            Last week, Rieg earned a high-leverage save in a 5-3 victory over Pope John Paul II. The Pennsburg resident recorded a six-out save on Thursday, April 20 at

First baseman Jack Schramm catches a throw during the sixth

inning to complete a double play during Upper Perkiomen's 

victory over Pope John Paul II.

Bonekemper Field.
            Since Isaac Bugman, Cole Pierce and Brody Weiss became starters, the Indians have won five of eight games. Their hitters are swinging more confidently. The defense has become much more efficient.
            "A lot more plays in the field are being made than before," said Devlin Kranich, a senior captain.
            Sometimes a simple lineup change can force players to raise their focus level, according to head coach Frank Mercon. He said a recent extra-inning victory over Boyertown at Bear Stadium helped build the team's confidence.
            "Winning is fun," Mercon said, echoing Rieg. "The guys are playing with a purpose. I expect us to win every time out."

            According to Rieg, the installation of Weiss behind the plate and Bugman and Pierce on the left side of the infield provided a calming influence. He said their addition to the lineup felt natural since the trio played a significant role on the Upper Perk Youth Legion team that reached the final day of the state tournament each of the last two summers.
            "We all flow together well," Rieg said.
            One day after Spring-Ford snapped its four-game winning streak, the Tribe rebounded,  building a 5-2 lead through five innings against the visiting Golden Panthers.
            However, Rieg needed to rescue his team with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. He came on after starting pitcher Evan Wittig allowed two hits to open the inning.
            Rieg allowed a walk and a hit that pulled Pope John Paul II within two runs. Aidan Sgarra lined into an infield double play, and Rieg retired Luke Terlesky to end the inning.
            "Those pressure situations make me perform better," said Rieg, who hit the leadoff hitter in the top of the seventh inning with a pitch before retiring the next three hitters. "I know the guys behind me are going to make the plays."
            The win carried playoff implications in the conference and District One. The Panthers entered the game leading the Frontier Division and the District One Class 4A standings.
            Mercon described qualifying for both as possible. However, he said the team's focus will only be on the next game despite the recent success.
            Bugman led the Indians, who tightened their grip on fourth place in the district rankings, with three hits and two runs scored at the plate. Bugman, Jack Schramm, Weiss and Owen Miller each delivered an RBI hit.
            Bugman, the shortstop and No. 2 hitter, helped his team build an early 4-1 lead. In the first inning, he singled, stole second and scored on Schramm's hit to left field. Miller followed with a run-scoring single to right.
            In the bottom of the second, Tyler Forrest scored on a single to left by Weiss. Bugman's two-out hit to left capped the flurry.

            One day earlier, Spring-Ford's Michael DeHaan and David Ruckman had ended the Indians' winning streak. DeHaan scattered seven hits and struck out nine in six innings on the mound, while Ruckman went 4-for-4 at the plate to lead their team to a 7-3 victory.

            Jacob Witmer finished with two hits, scored two runs and drove in one for the visiting Rams, who scored once in the second and three times in the third inning off starter Gavin Weiss to take a commanding 4-0 lead. Weiss absorbed the loss after permitting four runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings.

            Rieg finished with a team-high two hits and a run scored for the Tribe, who totaled seven hits but committed four errors. Bugman, Evan Sands and Brody Weiss each drove in a run.

            Still, the team had a chance to take a late lead. Down 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth, Upper Perk put runners on second and third, but both were stranded.

            On Monday, the Indians lost 7-6 to Upper Merion, squandering a 5-2 lead in the sixth inning.
            Cole Pierce and Evan Sands allowed three runs, two of which were unearned, in the bottom of the sixth inning. Overall Upper Perk committed three errors that led to four unearned runs.
            Brody Weiss drove in three runs. Drew Graf scored twice. Graf and Rieg each stole two bases for Upper Perkiomen (7-6 overall, 4-5 PAC), which finished with seven steals.


 

 

 

 

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