Spring City completes quest for redemption, wins Pa. championship
BOYERTOWN » Seven players came back from college for one last season of baseball with the Spring City American Legion team this year and their leadership and efforts paid off with a state title, thanks to a 6-1 win over Souderton in Wednesday afternoon’s championship game at Bear Stadium.
Tournament MVP Brad Clemens threw a completegame, seven-hitter, Coy Walters (the tournament batting champion) had two hits and Nick Price hit three doubles for the Red Sox (39-4), who had already clinched a spot in next week’s Mid-Atlantic Regional to be played Purcellville, VA starting Wednesday August 8.
“From the beginning of the season, the leaders set the goals for us, not the coaches,” said Spring City fifth-year manager Mike Gancasz. “Everybody bought in and it was truly a team effort. Seven postgraduates, which is the most we’ve ever had.”
“It’s really cool to be involved with the program all my life,” said Clemens, who was bat boy for the team in 2007. “It’s a pleasure. It’s cool to win here like they did in 2010 (Spring City’s previous state title).”
Clemens struck out one and walked two in his outing, which featured just 99 pitches for the righthander.
Walters (7-for-14 in the tournament) and Price ripped back-to-back doubles to give Spring City a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning and Souderton Post 234 (28-5) tied it in the bottom half on an RBI single to left by catcher Moses Clemens. Then the Red Sox regained the lead with five more runs in the fourth.
Jake Skrocki bunted for a hit with one out to get the big inning going, Kasey Caras (tournament sportsmanship award winner) walked and Clemens singled through the middle to load the bases. Then
Walters was hit by a pitch to force in a run, a wild pitch scored another before Price drilled a tworun double to deep rightcenter to make it 4-1. A bases-loaded walk to Pat Jucker produced the final run.
“Everyone was hitting the ball,” said Clemens. who will be a sophomore at Eastern University next year. “It was a hit parade. It was contagious.”
“I really got on fire this week,” said Walters, who led
the team to a .305 batting average.
Spring City had already clinched at least second place and a national regional berth with a 4-2 win over defending champion Ephrata on Tuesday night. And even though that helped the Red Sox relax a little bit on Wednesday, they still wanted to leave Boyertown’s Bear Stadium with a state title.
“That didn’t stop us,” said Price. “We wanted a state championship. We play the same game of baseball every day ... Spring City baseball. We don’t take any game for granted.”
“That definitely relaxed us a lot, but we really wanted to win the state championship,” Walters added.
Many of the same players had won the State Junior Legion championship in 2015.
“I won it a couple of years ago in Junior Legion,” said Walters. “This felt better. It’s a lot of fun. It really means a lot.”
“We had the experience and everything,” Price added. “We have a great group of guys. So much chemistry this year.”
The Red Sox will play their first Mid-Atlantic Regional game Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Fireman’s Field in
Purcellville, Virginia, against the Virginia champion.
“We’re looking forward to it,” said Price. “We really want to keep it going. We’re going to be refreshed and ready to go and represent Pennsylvania the best we can.”
“Our main goal was to get to Virginia with the same group of guys we had in Homer City (at the 2015
Junior Legion Tournament),” said Clemens. “It was cool to win it again with these guys.”
Souderton had won its first three games before falling to Ephrata 4-1 on Tuesday. The BuxMont League and Region 2 champions will open the Mid-Atlantic Regional with a 9 a.m. contest Wednesday against the New Jersey state champion.
“They made all the plays,” Post 234 manager Paul Meara said concerning the Red Sox. “I think we hit the ball hard. Our pitcher (Jacob Horton) battled. He did a nice job. They hit the ball. Give them credit.
“If I told the players before the season that they’d go 28-5 and finish second in the state, they’d be pretty happy, even though they’re disappointed now.”
“We have fun from a coaching staff perspective,” Gancasz added. “Our job is still to teach them about the game. They’re well-respected players. We love them through and through.”
Members of the Spring City American Legion baseball team gather with the trophy after winning the Pa. State Tournament Championship on Wednesday afternoon at Bear Stadium. The Red Sox beat Souderton 6-1 for their first State Tournament title since 2010.
Spring City’s Brad Clemens, right, named the Pa. State Tournament’s Most Valuable Player, poses with Region 3 director Jack Purdy.
Spring City’s Coy Walters, left, and Brad Clemens celebrate after both scored on Nick Price’s two-run double during the fourth inning against Souderton on Wednesday.