Fine Junior Legion season ends for Phantoms

Photo by Barry Taglieber Phoenixville's Shane Muntz scores a run while Quakertown catcher Jon Potynski tries to make play. On-deck batter is Will Slover.

RICHBORO - Phoenixville was eliminated from the Pennsylvania Junior Legion Eastern Regional Tournament with a 9-4 setback to host Northampton in the losers’ bracket final game July 31 in a morning contest.

Phoenixville closed out its best Junior Legion season ever with a 17-10 overall record.

The Phantoms won their opening game Saturday morning, 8-5, over Quakertown. They were rained out Sunday afternoon against West Scranton. The game was postponed until Monday morning, and Phoenixville dropped that contest, 4-1, to drop into the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination tournament.

In a second game Monday evening, Phoenixville stayed alive with a 6-4 victory over Downingtown. The Phantoms advanced to the final day by pulling out a 6-5 win over eventual champion Beech Creek in a night game July 30.

The Phantoms made their first appearance at the regional level of Junior Legion baseball under manager Gene Bernat and assistant coaches Andy Timar and Jeff Fortmann.

“We had nothing today,” said Bernat after the finale. “We were kind of flat. We started off rough. We were wild on the mound. We had no hitting again and we didn’t score runs until the end. I think my team looked tired.

“But they fought and hung in there. We had a terrific year and they are a great group of kids. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”

Northampton scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning, one in the second and three in the fourth to establish a 6-0 lead. The Indians added three more runs in the sixth. Phoenixville scored two runs in the sixth and two in the seventh.

Owen Goryl and Tommy Albertson divided the pitching duties for the Phantoms. They combined to allow nine hits with five walks and four strikeouts. Phoenixville picked up nine hits against three Northampton hurlers with three strikeouts and three walks.

Albertson finished 3-for-3 with a run batted in and also reached base a fourth time with a hit batsman in the fourth inning. Phoenixville stranded nine baserunners. Jake Mullan, Will Slover and Jeff Conboy also had RBIs for the Phantoms. Chance DiFebbo, Goryl, pinch runner Ken Erb and Mullan scored runs.

Phoenixville’s 14/15-year-old team is divided evenly with each age group. So Bernat wished his graduates the best of luck in the future and at the same time looks forward to working with the 14-year-olds again next summer as 15s who now know what it takes to succeed at the regional level.

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In the West Scranton game, DiFebbo pitched six innings for Phoenixville with six strikeouts and one walk. He surrendered seven hits and two earned runs on 96 pitches. Shane Muntz went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Albertson had the RBI.

Against Downingtown, Phoenixville scored three runs in the seventh inning to win it on three runs, two hits and one error. Mullan went 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI. Slover finished 2-for-3, and Muntz was 1-for-4 with a double, run and RBI. Conboy also had an RBI. Conboy pitched a full seven innings with five strikeouts and five walks. He gave up five hits and two earned runs on 116 pitches.

Against Beech Creek, Josh Zegel pitched 5 1/3 innings and had two strikeouts and six walks while giving up 10 hits and three earned runs. Albertson posted the win with 1 2/3 innings of relief. He had two strikeouts and gave up nothing else.

Slover drew the walk-off walk for the victory. A.J. Lotsis had two hits and two runs. Muntz had two runs with a double, and Albertson had two hits.

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