BOYERTOWN -- Spring-Ford's Trevor Sasek and Boyertown's Rob Kershaw hooked up in a pitchers' dual in Friday night's winners' bracket contest of the Senior Babe Ruth State Tournament at Boyertown High School. But while the Pirate defense stayed steady throughout, the Bruin defense eventually faltered, and Spring-Ford advanced to Sunday's championship round with a 3-0 win.
Defending champion Boyertown (21-9) will take Bucks County, a 12-2 winner over Drums, this morning at 11:00 at the same site. The winner of that one will play Spring-Ford (22-7) at 1:00 on Sunday, with a second game to follow if the Pirates lose the first.
Sasek allowed only one hit and struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings and the Pirate defense pulled off a bases-loaded double play behind reliever Matt Nelson to escape the sixth unscathed.
"Trevor was on with his curveball," said Spring-Ford manager Ed Harrington. "He usually is. If he's on with that curveball, he can get ahead of batters and he stays in control."
"He was really good tonight," said Bruin manager Jay Repko. "Sometimes you've just got to tip your hat to the opposition. They made all the plays."
The 6-foot-6 Pirate right-hander struck out three in the top of the first, though one batter reached base on a wild pitch on the third strike. He fanned the first batter in the second, then grooved an 0-2 fastball to Kyle Schollenberger, who lined a single through the middle for Boyertown's only hit of the day.
The Pirates threatened in the second when singles by Sasek and James Trojan and an outfield error put runners on second and third with one down, but Kershaw escaped the jam on a pop to center and a strikeout.
Spring-Ford finally broke the scoreless tie in the fourth on singles by Chase Cromley and Sasek, a two-strike sacrifice bunt by Mike Haslam, and a single to left by Trojan. Boyertown averted further damage with a double play, but committed two errors to help Spring-Ford to two unearned runs in the fifth.
Then the Bruins mounted their only real threat in the sixth when they loaded the bases with one down on two walks and a hit batter. But Nelson came on in relief and got the next batter to bounce one to third baseman Haslam, who fired to second to Trojan to start the big double play.
"Mike had a couple nice plays," said Harrington. "Our defense is pretty good defense. With pitching and defense, you're in every game."
Sasek hadn't pitched during the high school season, but he's been one of the Pirates' regulars on the mound along with Haslam and Nelson.
"I just come in and throw," he said.
Spring-Ford had sometimes struggled to field a whole team during the regular season, but Harrington has his full squad for this tournament.
"It's nice to pretty much have my whole team," he said. "I'm proud of the kids. I started with 18 and I've got 18 now. Pitching is big in baseball and I've got three nice steady pitchers. We've got all the pieces."
The Pirates wound up with nine hits -- all singles -- including two each by Cromley, Sasek, and Trojan.
"In the playoffs, we've kind of lost our bats," said Harrington. "We hit the ball today, even though we only got the three runs."
"We've been hitting well," said Sasek. "Just hitting well and having fun."
Despite the loss, Repko thinks his team is certainly capable of coming back through the losers' bracket.
"It's a long road," he said. "You need pitching, but we've got plenty of pitching. These guys ... they never quit. They're a resilient bunch."
On the other hand, the Pirates can take today off and they'll have two shots at winning the title and a Mid-Atlantic Regional berth on Sunday.
"That was nice to put ourselves in a good situation like that and save our pitching," said Harrington. "We'll try to get that first one."