Spring City heads to states after winning Region Three

Photo by Barry Taglieber Spring City's pitcher Tyler Eckman

ROYERSFORD - Host Spring City captured the 2012 Pennsylvania Region Three Tournament with a 7-1 victory over Chester County League rival and loop champion Conestoga Wednesday afternoon at Ram Stadium.

The Red Sox (30-10) finished a perfect 5-0 in the tournament to advance to the Pennsylvania State Championship at Boyertown’s Bear Stadium. That tournament will be staged from Tuesday, July 31, through Saturday, Aug. 4. Spring City will open states against host Boyertown Tuesday evening in the second game of a doubleheader.

In game one, Doylestown (Region Two) takes on Hempfield East or Somerset (Region Seven). In game two, Ephrata (Region Four) plays Wilcox (Region Eight). In game three, Milton (Region Five) meets Connellsville or Penn Hills (Region Six) before Spring City and Boyertown clash in the windup game at around 7 p.m.

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Spring City defeated Ivy Ridge of Philadelphia in the opener, 11-2; Bristol of Lower Bucks County, 12-11; Fort Washington Golden Generals of Lower Montco, 10-2; and J.P. Mascaro of Greater Norristown, 7-3; to reach the championship game.

The Red Sox played an excellent series in all facets of the game. They combined outstanding pitching and defense with timely hitting, solid baserunning and strong fundamentals to earn their title.

The Thomas W. O’Connor Spring City Post 602 sponsors the team. The tourney was held July 21-25 at Ram Stadium.

Jamie Scheck is manager of the Red Sox. His assistant coaches are pitching coach Mike Walton, first base coach Mike Heffernan, Sr.; and Mike Heffernan, Jr.

Spring City scored 47 runs in the tournament while allowing just 19, 11 of them in one bizarre inning against Bristol.

The Red Sox claimed the state championship, its first ever, back in 2010 in Boyertown and will attempt to duplicate that feat in 2012 with mostly a different array of players.

Tyler Eckman (two), Kristian DeLuzio, Richie Michaud and left-hander Kyle McKelvy handled the starting pitching assignments for the Red Sox. R.J. Sheldon and Cody Brown proved to be effective in a couple of relief roles.

The Red Sox won their second regional title in three years and did so against a Conestoga ballclub that ended the year at 22-13 overall.

Eckman pitched the full nine innings in the clincher and allowed only five hits to secure his second win of the tourney. Michaud, the left-handed swinging regular shortstop, went 4-for-4 with a double, triple, three runs batted in and three runs scored as Spring City banged out 14 hits in the finale. Michaud had a torrid time at the plate in the tourney, finishing 14-for-22, which figures out to a .636 clip.

“I was just seeing my pitch a lot today,” said Michaud. “I was just hitting. I had (another) one (4-for-4) in the beginning of the year. It is great to have one in the championship game.”

“I wish we had a shutout and they can hit the ball,” said Eckman. “So it is not to get mad about.

“We (SC, Conestoga) know each other, which helps. I closed against them a couple times so I know what kind of hitting team they are.”

Spring City’s regular defense had Ryan Conway behind the plate, Cody Clarke at first base, Tom Grablewski at second base, Michaud or David Gulati at shortstop and Vince Ianni at third base.

The outfield has Angelo Kelly in left, Louie Vining in center and Gulati in right. Kelly is the team’s leadoff batter and another lefty while Sheldon serves as the main designated hitter.

“I am pretty happy,” said Clarke. “We came out and played the way we expected. We hit the ball and our pitchers threw great.”

“It’s big for us to get up early,” said Conway. “Eckman pitched awesome. We got contributions from everyone. That’s basically been our MO through the season.

“Eckman pounded the strike zone, which is exactly what we want from our pitching staff. That makes my job a lot easier. Eck, Kristian and Richie, we let them go, even when they need help. They are not too emotional. Nothing fazes them.”

Scheck liked being able to have his team play at home in front of big crowds every night.

“That was huge, very big,” said Scheck. “Just to be able to play the night game every night. Every game we get a big crowd out. That was great. We won it in five straight, which shows just how well the kids played all week.”

Grablewski has been a vocal team leader after starting in the infield for three years. Like most of the Red Sox players, he has been a big factor in the field and with the bat.

“I got a couple good hits,” he said after the J.P. Mascaro victory Tuesday night. “Our guys were clutch. Cody also got a big hit that put us ahead.”

“It’s always fun to get out early,” said Vining after an earlier outing. “Our team has been hitting well. Guys get on base and I dig in and hit. I have just been seeing the ball well. It is everyone picking each other up.”