Coming off an exciting five-game winning streak in the Cal Ripken District Tournament held in Norristown, Kimberton gained a berth in the state tournament held in Aston, Delaware County.
Entering the summer travel circuit, KYAL was considered a mid-range team in the district and was not a consideration to reach the state playoffs. Only two players returned who previous tournament experience.
During the district draw, Kimberton was seeded fifth in the nine-team tournament. Spring-Ford was a heavy favorite coming off last year's state championship as 8-year-olds, followed by Phoenixville, which was the only local team to defeat Spring-Ford in 2003. However, after Kimberton swept six straight games in its own tournament at the end of June, including beating Phoenixville in the final, the chances were eminent for a strong showing in districts.
KYAL continued its winning ways with five wins in Norristown and entered the state playoffs as the local representative, though once again a mid-level seed.
The opening day of the Pennsylvania State Tournament matched Kimberton against the Antietam Baseball League, which Kimberton quickly dispatched, 11-0. Shae Ferguson got things going by striking out the side in the opening stanza. When the locals came to the plate, leadoff hitter Patrick O'Dell connected for a triple to get things going. The second inning once again featured Ferguson mowing down the opposition on three strikeouts.
Carrying a 4-0 lead, KYAL catcher Ryan Yenchik blasted a double to the fence followed by another two-bag shot by Brandon McCuen. The score stood at 9-0 after two innings. In the third inning, Jarrad Pinelli took the mound and struck out two more batters. The inning was highlighted by a great catch by O'Dell to keep the shutout alive. Greg Hodgkiss came to the plate for the Mean Green and knocked in two more runs to put the lead at 11-0.
Pinnelli and the Kimberton defense kept the opposition scoreless and the game ended under the 10-run mercy rule. For Kimberton, John Hopkins brought his hot nine-hit district bat to the states and continued with a strong showing at the plate.
The second game featured Kimberton against the Delaware County district champion, Brookhaven, which came into the tournament as a favorite to meet the host in the finals. Kimberton once again was treated to an opening inning whitewashing by Ferguson, who struck out all three batters and continued his mastery by only allowing one run through the third. Corey Ferko challenged the fences of Aston when he dented the wall for a triple.
Leading 5-1, KYAL was forced into extra innings when Brookhaven rallied to tie the game in the sixth. Kimberton manager Chris Guidotti turned the pitching duties over to McCuen, who shut down Brookhaven through the eighth. In the bottom of the eighth inning, John Hopkins hit a laser to the fence and scored McCuen for the winning run.
Game three featured a matchup with the Delaware Valley Baseball League, which also came into the game undefeated. Expecting the Kimberton arms were tiring, the opposition was surprised when Robbie Purcell took the hill and scorched the strike zone for five shutout innings. In the end, KYAL claimed a 4-0 win and moved into the winner's bracket final against tournament favorite and host Aston Valley.
The Kimberton defense supported a pitching staff giving up fewer than two runs per game. Gold Glove nominations were extended to Taylor Dempsey and first baseman Jordan Beaver.
Aston Valley came into the contest undefeated throughout the postseason and racked up several banners in various AAU tournaments. KYAL battled all game and twice loaded the bases without any outs and couldn't get the runs home. The final score was 7-5.
The loss moved Kimberton into a matchup versus Westgate. Kimberton made quick work of Westgate and with the 5-1 victory had the chance to win the state crown in a rematch against Aston Valley.
Once again, the Kimberton arms were suspect due to many innings of pitching as well as the absence of its star hurler, Bobbie O'Connor. The Kimberton ace suffered a broken arm as the winning pitcher in the KYAL tournament championship game against Phoenixville. However, once again the Kimberton arms rose to the challenge and held Aston Valley scoreless through five innings. Brad Hyatt continued hot hitting with a clutch hit late in the game for Kimberton but was left stranded on second, leaving only one run to defend.
In the sixth inning, leading 1-0, the KYAL defense finally was penetrated and Aston Valley squeezed in two runs to take the Pennsylvania state title. Further consolation was extended to Kimberton as Aston Valley swept through the Mid-Atlantic Regionals, allowing the locals as a state runner-up to lay claim to a 2005 top seed in the entire East Coast region.
"The showing by our team combined with the success of our 11s and 12s is a marked accomplishment for our league," said Guidotti. "When you add in the 10-year-old championship in Upper Merion, our league was a participant in 12 out of 15 championships in local, state and Mid-Atlantic play. Our success is getting noticed as our fall league registrations are up 30 percent from last year."
Along with Guidotti, the team was coached by Ed O'Dell, Rob O'Connor and Bob McCuen. The team enjoyed an on-field celebration at Tuesday night's Reading Phillies game.