PHOENIXVILLE - The Red Sox scored a run in the top of the seventh inning to nip the Athletics, 2-1, to capture the Phoenixville Babe Ruth League baseball championship June 14 at deSanno Field.
The Red Sox thus swept the best-of-three championship series. The Red Sox defeated the A’s, 9-1, in the opening contest.
Manager John Coll’s Red Sox used their wealth of talent and experience to play consistent ball throughout the season and emerge as the top team in the circuit.
Jake Mullan, a 14-year-old who has not hurled much during this campaign, pitched a complete game for the victory on a four-hitter. He allowed one unearned run, struck out 10 batters and walked seven on 113 pitches.
Left-hander Steve Anderson was a tough-luck pitcher for the Athletics. He threw a five-hitter and gave up one earned run with five strikeouts and two walks on 100 pitches.
The Red Sox and Athletics each scored one run in the fourth inning, and the score remained that way until the seventh.
Mullan and Anderson each pounded out doubles in the game. The Red Sox turned two double plays and the A’s had one.
Mullan scored both runs for the Red Sox and had one hit and one stolen base. Chance DiFebbo, Matt Osisek-Byrne, Kevin Smyth and Eric Wood also had hits for the Red Sox. Catcher Will Slover plated the first run with a sacrifice fly, and Jimmy Kingsbury knocked in the decisive run with a groundout to second base.
Jake Casmay, Luke Gabriele and Matt D’Amico (RBI) had hits for the Athletics, who are managed by Ron Cimino.
“Coming into the season, we thought we had pretty good players who play really well together as a team,” said Mullan. “We are all friends pretty much, and that let us win it.”
Phoenixville had a Junior Legion game scheduled for 6 p.m. prior to the BRL game at 8 p.m. DiFebbo pitched the Junior Legion contest so he was not eligible to pitch the BRL game as well. That is how Mullan got the nod.
“I prefer to play shortstop, but I pitched my whole life,” said Mullan. “I like pitching, but I prefer shortstop.”
DiFebbo pitched a one-hit shutout as the Phantoms won the Junior Legion game, 10-0 in five innings, against Uwchlan.
“I am really happy,” said DiFebbo. “It’s a real experience. It lets me know what college might be like getting two big wins.
“Anderson pitched very well. He shut us down. All we had to do was put the ball in play and let them make a mistake. We hit and that was lifting our team up to get that ‘W’.”
DiFebbo is a Phoenixville resident, but he is now attending Malvern Prep School for his high school years and plays baseball and basketball there. He still has a lot of fond memories of playing youth ball in Phoenixville and the many friends he has made along the path.
“I am living my childhood,” said DiFebbo. “You never lose your friendships out here. I call them up and we hang out. I will always remember them.”
The Red Sox will graduate five 15-year-olds from their squad. They include DiFebbo, Troy Horner, Slover, Eric Wood and Brendan Siefer.
“We battled,” said Cimino. “But they are an older team and a great team. John has done a good job with them. Anderson had a great game, and defensively all the kids played well on both sides. We are young and were able to get this far with 13’s. We will be back next year.”
“It worked out great,” said Coll, who has been involved with PBRL for 32 years. “Mullan gave us a real gutty effort on the mound. A couple times our guys were overaggressive on the basepaths and we ran ourselves out of some opportunities. Anderson did a real nice job for them.”
Coll praised D’Amico for providing a clutch hit to account for the A’s run.
“I think they played well,” he said. “Obviously, the score was really tight. It does suggest that good baseball is being played in the Babe Ruth League. With us and the Athletics, games were not decided until the end. They were real close. The other night was a bit of an anomaly.”
Coll began coaching in the PBRL with the old Giants team, which were managed by his brother-in-law, Bob Stancavage. He took over the Red Sox following the sudden death of Bill Hite in 1983. Coll has spent a lot of time coaching and working with members of the Vaile family. Jim Vaile is now an assistant coach with the Red Sox and began as a player under Stancavage with the Giants. Vaile’s own sons have now come through the circuit.
Coll said his Red Sox flirted with titles previously with trips to the finals that came up short. He recalled coaching former Phoenixville catcher Jack Ashburn, now at the University of Nebraska, with the Red Sox as a 13-year-old when the ballclub advanced to the finals but fell to the Indians.
“This team has a lot of excellent athletes,” said Coll. “A good number of them have experience and some tremendous speed on the basepaths.”