Spring City ousts host Boyertown behind Hughes’ pitching gem
BOYERTOWN » The older Spring City players welcomed a shot at redemption in this season’s Pennsylvania State American Legion Tournament after losing two out of two in last year’s affair. And so far they’re taking advantage of their extra opportunity as they advanced to the final four in the state Monday afternoon with a 4-0 win over Boyertown at Bear Stadium.
Red Sox left-hander Tom Hughes threw 6-2/3 two-hit innings before reaching the Legion’s maximum-allowed pitch count and Spring City pulled away with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
“It was a quick outing last year,” said Red Sox manager Mike Gancasz, whose team lost two one-run games in 2017. “We were 0-2. The super seniors on the team ... they wanted redemption.”
“We’re definitely playing better than last year,” added the 19-year-old Hughes, who set a Chestnut Hill College record with 14 strikeouts in the final outing of his freshman year in spring. “We have more talent. Our defense is definitely better than last year.”
Hughes walked three batters in the first inning, but got out of the jam with a called third strike.
“The first inning is always rough for me,” he said. “I always come back and try to throw strikes.”
“He made me nervous in the first inning with three walks,” said Gancasz. “Fortunately, he got out of that with no damage. We do have a great defense behind him and he started using it. He kept his pitch count down and we knew he had an opportunity.”
That first inning turned out to be the best opportunity of the day for the Bears (25-15).
“That was a crucial inning for us,” said Boyertown manager Rick Moatz. “That kid’s a good pitcher. The time you get to a good pitcher is the first inning. You’ve got to give him credit for coming back and finding his groove. He really had our hitters off-balance. Except for the first inning, he was ahead all day and our pitchers were behind all day.”
Spring City scored in the second off Bear starter Gavin Richards on a oneout single by J.C. Reed, two walks and a sacrifice fly to center by Tyler Horgan. That was the only run allowed by Richards in four innings.
But Hughes settled down with a 1-2-3 second with two strikeouts and allowed only a single by Shayn Horrocks in the third, a double by Caleb Harrison in the fourth and two walks the rest of the way.
“My curveball was really good today,” said Hughes. “I had been using my fastball and changeup this year, but my curveball had a huge impact.”
The Red Sox did the rest of their scoring on a twoout RBI double by Coy Walters and consecutive singles by Pat Jucker, Reed and Hughes.
“I really wanted our hitters to make adjustments,” said Gancasz. “Even with flicking the bat out and getting the hits. We put runs on the board.”
Then Hughes came out in the sixth and struck out the side.
“I was definitely more relaxed,” he said. “It definitely pumped me up.”
As a result, the Region 3 champion Red Sox moved a big step closer to earning one of the state’s two berths in the Mid-Atlantic Regional in Virginia.
“I’m pumped to spend some time with the guys in the hotel and compete with some very good teams down there,” Hughes added.
The setback ended the season for the host Bears, who will lose only college players Nick DiCiacco and Tate Yergey.
“We played well,” said Moatz. “I think we played better than we did all season long. We had a couple weeks of practice that we needed to have early in the season. I was very happy with the way we finished up.”
Boyertown’s Jared Waldman delivers to the plate during Monday’s game against Spring City.