Bull­dogs bat­ter Twin Val­ley, re­turn to the top

The Southern Berks News - - SPORTS - By Jeff De­wees For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

READING >> The Wil­son Bull­dogs won four base­ball games last sea­son and fin­ished dead last in Sec­tion 1 of the BCIAA.

Wed­nes­day night, Sal Rac­cuglia’s club walked off the turf at First En­ergy Sta­dium cham­pi­ons of Berks County. Wil­son got there with a 13-4 con­quest of Twin Val­ley in the cham­pi­onship game.

Cam Weigand drove in six runs, Collin Fos­ter pitched ef­fec­tively, and the Bull­dogs took full ad­van­tage of Twin Val­ley’s de­fen­sive melt­down to cap­ture the crown. The Raiders had four er­rors in a bru­tal fourth in­ning (and three at-bats in a row in­side that) that al­lowed Wil­son to plate seven runs, all un­earned, to bust open what had been a tight 2-1 game.

TV suf­fered six mis­cues in all, leav­ing starter Zach Rice with nine runs al­lowed, but only one earned.

The vic­tory capped a re­mark­able turn­around for the Wil­son pro­gram, which clocked its 10th Berks County ti­tle over­all, but first in a decade, with Wed­nes­day’s win over the Raiders.

Wil­son’s first Berks League ti­tle since 2007 was for­mu­lated in what Rac­cuglia called the pro­gram’s “come to Je­sus” meet­ing, held last July af­ter the con­clu­sion of the sum­mer Le­gion sea­son. It in­volved the coaches and the play­ers and Wil­son’s eighth-year skip­per cred­its the sum­mit for kick-start­ing the re­vival.

“We al­ways tell our kids that if you want the re­spect, you’ve got to win cham­pi­onships,” Rac­cuglia said. “That’s what our other sports do and we wanted to fol­low suit.

“We all sat down and talked. I laid out a plan. ‘Here’s when you’re gonna have breaks, here’s when I need you to walk hard. If you want this bad enough, then you’re with me.’ The first time I showed up af­ter that, there were 25 guys in the gym – 95 de­grees, 7 o’clock in the morn­ing.”

The progress was steady, but al­most stealthy, if you will. Wil­son came into the ti­tle game with a 15-7 over­all mark but fin­ished just 6-4 in Berks 1, be­hind Gov-

er­nor Mif­flin and Daniel Boone. The Bull­dogs had to beat both – Boone in the quar­ter­fi­nals and Mif­flin in Mon­day night’s semi­fi­nal -just to get here.

Twin Val­ley’s path was sim­i­lar – third in Berks 2 dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, be­hind Oley Val­ley and Fleet­wood, then beat­ing both to reach.

Un­for­tu­nately for the Raiders, de­fense was an is­sue all night in the ti­tle game. Dur­ing that bottom of the fourth, Wil­son sent 11 bat­ters to plate and had seven come around to score, on only four hits. Three straight in­field er­rors and a toss into cen­ter field from the catcher were com­pounded by the snow­ball ef­fect of fol­lowup RBI base hits from Weigand, Fos­ter and Chase Zu­rawski.

“The only thing we ac­com­plished there was that we put the ball in play,” Ruc­cuglia said.

Rice was left with un­for­tu­nate pitch­ing line of four IP, five hits, nine runs al­lowed, one earned. The Raiders trailed 9-1 when the in­ning was over.

“At one point we had as many er­rors as hits,” TV head coach Chad Wal­ters said. “I thought our pitch­ing was fine to that point. Wil­son put the ball in play and we didn’t make plays. Funny thing about base­ball, is some­times one thing hap­pens and then ev­ery ball af­ter that finds a hole and it all gets com­pounded.

“Give those guys (Wil­son) credit. Good group of kids. Make you work.”

Weigand’s night was pro­lific. He went 4-for-5 with six runs driven in, in­clud­ing a two-run sin­gle and tworun triple. He also reached on an er­ror.

“I saw the ball good, I felt good,” the ju­nior third base­man said. “I tried to hit lin­ers, es­pe­cially in the last at­bat (the triple).

“This ti­tle for the pro­gram is huge. From go­ing 4-16 to win­ning a county ti­tle, that’s pretty im­pres­sive. Our se­niors led the way. We’ve been go­ing hard, ev­ery morn­ing, since last (sum­mer). We just put in the work.”

Twin Val­ley ral­lied from that disas­trous fourth to score three runs in fifth in­ning, the big blow a two-run sin­gle from Rice with bases loaded. But Hunter McI­naw’s fol­lowup RBI sin­gle also fea­tured the third out at the plate, on a bril­liant throw from cen­ter by Dal­ton Emerich to catcher Zu­rawski to nail Rice at the plate.


Twin Val­ley’s Ethan Les­lie (28) is tagged out at home by Wil­son’s Chase Zu­rawski (8) dur­ing Wil­son’s win over Twin Val­ley in the Berks County Cham­pi­onship at First En­ergy Sta­dium on May 17.

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