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Sports Article
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Tribe Baseball Falls Short of District Title
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Upper Perkiomen's bid for its first district championship in 17 years fell one rally short last week. Head coach Frank Mercon described his team's performance as a sign of potential future success.

Upper Perkiomen catcher Brody Weiss tags out Pope John Pau's

Dylan Simeone at the plate to end the third inning of last week's

District One Class 4A title game.

            The Indians, made up mostly of underclassmen, had their chance to take command of the District One Class 4A championship game against Pope John Paul II. However, they squandered a two-on, no-out offensive opportunity in the fifth inning and suffered a 5-3 defeat on Friday, May 26 at the Villanova Ballpark in Plymouth Township.

            The Pioneer Athletic Conference rivals split the regular season games. The Panthers captured the Frontier Division title.

            Mercon said his team reached another level of achievement by advancing to the district title. He said playing in the toughest league in Pennsylvania helped prepare them for the postseason.

            "Our guys played hard," said Mercon, whose team ended the game with just one senior in the game. "They played to win."

            Kyle Mazzie, a junior, delivered two hits, scored a run and drove in another for the No. 3 seeded Indians (11-11). Classmate Isaac Bugman added two hits and one RBI.

            Luke Terlesky earned the mound victory for the top-seeded Panthers with two shutout innings of relief. He issued three walks.

            A.J. Didazzio earned a four-out save to allow Pope John Paul II to qualify for the PIAA tournament, which begins Monday. He induced a fly out to end the sixth inning before facing the minimum in the seventh.

            The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning against Upper Perkiomen starter Braden Rieg. Frank Dimaio worked a leadoff walk, was sacrificed to second and eventually scored on a two-out hit by Chase Frantz. 

Their lead grew to 2-0 in the second inning on an unearned run. An infield error set up Dimaio's two-out RBI hit.

            Rieg's RBI hit in the top of the third inning got the Tribe within 2-1. He plated Kyle Mazzie, who singled with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch and stole third.
            Pope John Paul II responded by extending its lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the inning off Rieg and reliever Jack Schramm. Dylan Simeone forced home a run by working a walk with the bases loaded off Jack Schramm.

            However, Schramm, who took a line drive off his left ankle early in his outing, minimized the damage with some defensive help. After recording the first out on a grounder, he induced a pop-up for the second out.

            Blake High drove home another run with a line single to right field. But Devlin Kranich, one of two contributing Upper Perkiomen seniors, threw out a runner at the plate on the play to end the inning.

            "I wasn't nervous," said Mazzie, who pitched for the Upper Perk Braves last summer in the championship game of the Pennsylvania Youth League tournament.

            The Indians pulled within 4-3 in the fourth inning. Devlin Kranich and Brody Weiss, who led off the inning with a single and a walk respectively, both scored. Kranich came home on Mazzie's two-out single to center. Evan Sands worked a bases-loaded walk to force home Weiss.

            Upper Perk threatened in the top of the fifth inning by putting runners on first and second with no outs. However, the rally fizzled after Weiss -- the inning's third hitter -- failed to execute a sacrifice bunt.

Mercon described it as the turning point.  "I don't expect that to happen again," the coach said. "[Weiss] is the future of this program."

            The Panthers added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning off Schramm and Cole Pierce. Chase Frantz delivered a bases-loaded single off Pierce with one out to put them ahead 5-3.

            The Tribe's defense prevented any further damage. Evan Sands, who moved to third base as part of a pitching change, forced a runner at the plate on a ground ball. Then Weiss, a ninth grader, picked off Simeone at first to end the inning.

            The team brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning on Weiss' walk. However, a double play ground ball ended Upper Perk's season.






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