Kutztown season comes to an end
Kutztown’s season ends in play-in series; coach Mease stepping away
Kutztown’s American Legion baseball season came to an end Sunday evening, July 2, at Kutztown Park with a 4-1 loss to Pottsville in Game 2 of the Schuylkill-Berks League best-of-3 tournament play-in series.
With Sunday’s result, the Lions swept the series, two games to none. Pottsville beat Kutztown 7-3 on Saturday in the series opener, after proceedings were pushed back a day due to inclement weather on Friday.
The season was not the only thing to come to an end.
After the contest, Kutztown manager Rod Mease announced to his club that he was retiring from coaching. Mease, 57, cited a number of reasons for stepping away after five seasons at the helm. In the immediate future is hip replacement surgery, his second, slated for July 24. But there are others.
“It was just my time,” Mease said. “There are other things my family and I want to be doing. My son being at college playing ball, we want to start traveling a little bit more with the team; going to Florida and everything else. This takes up some vacation time that I don’t want to give up anymore.”
Mease said his decision to retire was made in the spring. “This was a decision that I made at the start of the season,” he said.
Mease said he will remain a member of the board and will stay on as vice president. But his dugout days are over.
Mease’s final game in charge featured Trevor Leverington on the mound. The young starter struggled with his command, issuing seven walks in five-plus innings of work.
Pottsville plated three runs in the top of the second, helped along by three of those seven
seven free passes. The big low came off the bat of Darion Jacoby, who laced a bases-loaded double to deep centerfield for a pair of runs batted in. Three batters earlier, Lions starter Mike Winter helped himself with an RBI single to score Alex Everly, who had walked with one out.
“Very young yet,” Mease said, not only of Leverington, but of the entire squad. “These boys don’t realize how good they can be yet. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get it out of them, to bring it on to the field.
“I had a great time. I know this group of kids have a lot of potential. But now I think it’s somebody else’s turn to try to get it out of them. I think I’m too much of a buddy to them. I really do.”
Winter pitched effectively for the Lions, with only the bottom of the fourth presenting a problem. Trailing 3-0, Kutztown scored its only run of the contest on Zach Schell’s single to left to score Taylor Schroeder, who had reached on a fielder’s choice. The Cougars eventually loaded the base with two outs, but Winter wiggled out of the jam when he induced an infield groundout from Nate Ebling to retire the side.
Winter pitched a complete game, giving up that one run and four hits. He struck out five and walked two. He picked up an extra run of insurance in the fifth for himself by smacking a ringing RBI double to the fence in deep left center field at Timothy Breidegam Field for a 4-1 edge.
“I thought he pitched really well,” Pottsville skipper Daniel Doyle said of his starter. “We played very well when we faced Kuztown in the regular season as well. It’s good to our kids fighting hard, being the lower seed, and having the confidence to face the higher seed and win two games.”
Doyle, in his second season as head man at Pottsville, is barely older than his players and, in fact, counts some of them as former teammates. All of 21 years old, Doyle is a rising senior at Penn State and a member of the Nittany Lions baseball squad as a first baseman.
“This is really cool,” Doyle said of his Legion coaching gig. “It’s great to be back on the fields I played at and now coaching the kids.”
The full Schuylkill-Berks Legion tournament gets underway Wednesday, July 5 at several venues.
Kutztown starting pitcher Trevor Leverington delivers to the plate against Pottsville on July 2 at Kutztown.
Kutztown’s Brady Tucker (22) slides into second base while Pottsville’s Alex Everly (2) is unable to field the throw cleanly during Pottsville’s Schuylkill-Berks play-in series win on July 2 at Kutztown.
Kutztown’s Taylor Schroeder bats against Pottsville on July 2.
Pottsville’s Michael Winter (7) pitches to Kutztown’s Owen Fenerty (4) during Pottsville’s 4-1 win over Kutztown on July 2 in Kutztown.