Boy­er­town’s play­off run ends

Boy­er­town’s le­gion post­sea­son run ends in for­get­table fash­ion

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - By Thomas Nash tnash@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Thomas_Nash10 on Twit­ter

“I stayed long af­ter all the other guys and sat at the field and just rem­i­nisced of the good times and the bad. I re­called the tough wins and even tougher losses.” – Boy­er­town sec­ond base­man Michael Raineri.

BOY­ER­TOWN » Well af­ter the stands were cleared, the field was raked and the gates were locked, Michael Raineri sat all alone in­side the third-base dugout at Bear Sta­dium last Sun­day night.

He looked out at the field — the place he’d called home the past four spring and sum­mer base­ball sea­sons — and found him­self com­pletely en­gulfed in mem­o­ries.

“I stayed long af­ter all the other guys and sat at the field and just rem­i­nisced of the good times and the bad,” the Boy­er­town Le­gion base­ball team’s mid­dle in­fielder said. “I re­called the tough wins and even tougher losses. I shed a few tears as I re­al­ized it was over.”

It would have been easy for Raineri to sit there and play back what hap­pened that par­tic­u­lar evening — the No. 3-seeded Bears fal­ter­ing de­fen­sively and al­low­ing two runs to cross in the bot­tom of the ninth in­ning. That en­abled top-seeded Norch­ester to ad­vance back to the cham­pi­onship round of the Berks County play­offs in 3-2 walk-off fash­ion as the Bears’ sea­son was ended by the Bulldogs for the sec­ond straight year.

But that was the last thing on his mind.

Rather, he sat back and rem­i­nisced on the old times, the glory days as a mem­ber of Boy­er­town.

He thought back to the late night prac­tices, the laughs shared both in the dugout and on the field and of course, the time the Boy­er­town High School team was wel­comed back at Bear Sta­dium with the 2016 PIAA Class AAAA tro­phy in-hand from Penn State Uni­ver­sity.

Of all the mem­o­ries that Raineri glazed over that night, his most fa­vor­able one took him back to his rookie sea­son with Boy­er­town le­gion.

On Boy­er­town Mid­get Base­ball League (BMBL) Night that year, youth mem­bers of the Boy­er­town pro­gram were in­vited to run out onto the field with a player of their se­lec­tion. Stand­ing with Raineri at short­stop was by far the high­est amount of young­sters com­pared to any other po­si­tion on the field — an im­age that has yet to leave Raineri’s mem­ory.

“I re­mem­ber them telling me that I was their fa­vorite,” re­called Raineri of that night, “it was an­other hum­bling mo­ment for me. It made me re­al­ize that I have kids look­ing up to me, and that I need to be a good role model

for them. Some of those kids con­tin­ued to come back and watch us boys play for the next two sea­sons and I’d al­ways make it a point to go up to them and talk af­ter games, whether it was my worst or best game.

“You don’t choose to be a role model, the kids choose you, and be­ing a role model for those kids was one of the most hum­bling and great­est ex­pe­ri­ences of my life.”

Safe to say Raineri will have plenty more chances to lay the ground­work for those be­hind to fol­low. He’ll be­gin his col­le­giate base­ball ca­reer at Mis­eri­cor­dia Uni­ver­sity next sea­son, where the Cougars have qual­i­fied for the District III NCAA Tour­na­ment dur­ing each of the past seven sea­sons.

*** For the year, Mike Xan­thopou­los swung the big bat for the Bears reg­is­ter­ing a .333 bat­ting av­er­age with 26 hits and eight RBI against just four strike­outs. His break­through sum­mer hit­ting per­for­mance came af­ter he hadn’t reg­is­tered a sin­gle plate ap­pear­ance while pitch­ing for the Boy­er­town High School team this past spring.

The right-han­der brought plenty of fire out to the mound this sum­mer, where he posted a 2-1 reg­u­lar sea­son record in 39-2/3 in­nings pitched.

Nick DiCi­acco turned in a solid reg­u­lar sea­son for the Bears, fin­ish­ing up with a .348 bat­ting av­er­age with three dou­bles and RBI while Quinn Ma­son hit .429 de­spite sit­ting out a stretch of games while deal­ing with a con­cus­sion.

Fill­ing in his place, first year man Chris Davis was plenty ser­vice­able. The short­stop hit .440 in nine games with a dou­ble and six runs scored. He also posted the game-win­ning RBI dur­ing the Bears’ Berks County play­off opener against Shilling­ton.

Davis’ next-man-up ap­proach was what drove the Bears all sea­son long.

“We had a lot of young kids who were hun­gry for our spots,” Raineri said. “In a way that was prob­a­bly the best thing for this team be­cause it showed us that noth­ing is given, noth­ing is guar­an­teed. It doesn’t mat­ter what you did last year, last year is over and done with. You have to prove your­self again this year.”

“Chris did a great job fill­ing in for Quinn,” said long­time Boy­er­town man­ager Rick Moatz. “When (Quinn) came back, Chris was do­ing so well at short and we needed some­one in the out­field, so we put him out there.”

Bat­ting out of the two­hole most of the sea­son, the speedy Raineri hit .262 on the year with 14 runs scored, nine RBI and a team-high eight stolen bases.

Third base­man Tyler Kre­itz was a de­fen­sive fix­ture at the hot cor­ner. At the plate, he hit .259 with 12 runs scored and eight RBI.

Be­ing a part of Boy­er­town base­ball all of his life, Kre­itz had been no stranger to the small-ball ap­proach that the Bears have been known for through the years.

“I went into ev­ery at-bat think­ing ‘What can I do to help my team?’” re­called Kre­itz. “Whether it’s get­ting a bunt down or driv­ing a run in, each at-bat I had a job to get done.” *** For the year, the Bears fin­ished 11-7 in Berks League play, be­hind only even­tual champ Norch­ester (13-5) and West Lawn (11-7). The Bears opened the sea­son with con­sec­u­tive losses against the Bulldogs and Owls be­fore pick­ing up three con­sec­u­tive wins. For the reg­u­lar sea­son, three of their losses came against Norch­ester and two others against Twin Val­ley.

Af­ter open­ing up the post­sea­son with a 4-3 walkoff win against Shilling­ton, the Bears fell 10-5 against West Lawn. They then got back on the horse with a 4-2 win over Ex­eter on the shoulders of Jared Wald­man’s com­plete game five­hit­ter.

*** Norch­ester ended up claim­ing its sec­ond straight Berks Con­fer­ence ti­tle on Tues­day, July 11 with a 10-0 win over Twin Val­ley in the sec­ond round of the cham­pi­onship game. The Bulldogs had put to­gether an un­de­feated run through the Berks County Le­gion play­offs be­fore the Raiders got the bet­ter of them in the cham­pi­onship opener, 6-4, on Mon­day night to stretch it to a two-game se­ries.

Along with host West Lawn, both ad­vance to the Re­gion II Tour­na­ment, which will be un­der­way next week.

AUSTIN HERT­ZOG — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Mem­bers of the Norch­ester Le­gion base­ball team flock to Andy Blum af­ter he reached on an er­ror to al­low the game-win­ning run to cross dur­ing the ninth in­ning of Sun­day’s game against Boy­er­town.

THOMAS NASH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Boy­er­town’s Michael Raineri slides in safely dur­ing the fourth in­ning of Sun­day’s game.

THOMAS NASH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Norch­ester’s Leif Werge­land cel­e­brates with Josh Ful­mer af­ter scor­ing on Andy Fisher’s sin­gle dur­ing the sec­ond in­ning.

THOMAS NASH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Norch­ester’s Leif Werge­land cel­e­brates with Josh Ful­mer af­ter scor­ing on Andy Fisher’s sin­gle dur­ing the sec­ond in­ning.

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