PHOENIXVILLE - Pitching, defense and timely hitting helped carry Phoenixville to the 2012 Cal Ripken 12U PA NW state championship in the tournament it hosted at Vic Marosek Park from last Saturday to Tuesday on two fields.
Phoenixville thus qualified for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament at Troy, N.Y., starting Thursday, July 26.
In the championship game, Phoenixville trounced West End of Williamsport, 13-2. In the semifinals on Monday night, Phoenixville edged district champion Spring-Ford, 3-2. West End downed Audubon, 5-1, in the other semifinal contest.
Phoenixville scored 10 runs in the first three innings to take control of the championship game early. A two-run error and an RBI single by Zach Masalski during the first inning and an RBI single by Kyle Syrek and a two-out single by Christian Lehning in the second inning supplied the early offense for Phoenixville.
Nasir Green reached base three times in the game. He scored two runs and had one RBI. He singled in the third and sixth innings.
Morgan Bennyhoff and Masalski combined on the mound victory with each pitcher providing three innings of work.
'My pitching was strong,' said Phoenixville manager Jim Vaile. 'In the semifinals and finals we only gave up two runs in both games.'
Bennyhoff allowed one run in three innings with one strikeout, three walks and two hits allowed. Masalski gave up three hits with no earned runs, no walks and five strikeouts.
Spring-Ford scored runs in the first and third innings in the semifinals before Masalski shut the team out the rest of the way.
No. three hitter John Miller finished with two hits and one run scored. No. nine batter and second baseman Mike Limongelli stroked a big hit and scored a run as Phoenixville scored one run in the third and two runs in the fourth by Miller and Mitch Gibson.
'We scratched those runs out,' said Vaile.
Phoenixville totaled six hits against Spring-Ford and also played flawless defense. Center fielder Tyler Siefer made several fine running catches in the gaps and ended the game with five putouts.
Vaile termed the victory over West End a 'great team effort.'
Green, the right fielder and leadoff man, finished 3-for-4 with two runs. Phoenixville managed to put the top of its order on base and then move them around to score runs.
'We played a really flawless game defensively,' said Vaile. 'Other games in the tourney we were giving up five or six runs. So to give up only two in the semifinals and finals was really phenomenal. Morgan and Zach were really unbelievable.'
Phoenixville played six games in four days in the heat and needs some rest and a break before preparing for the regional tournament. At the same time, Vaile wants to keep the players sharp for regionals and may try to schedule a scrimmage to help keep them in tune.
This group of Phoenixville players captured the 10-year-olds' title back in 2010 so the ballclub felt it had a good chance again this year.
'This is a great opportunity for the kids,' said Vaile. 'We are a little more prepared this year. We didn't know what to expect before. We are older and more mature. We have to work hard to be competitive and take another step up. I feel really comfortable about this team. We are playing solid defense in the infield.'
*** On Sunday, Phoenixville defeated Lehigh Valley, 11-7, as Bennyhoff pitched, hit a three-run homer in the first inning and also had a two-run double.
Phoenixville scored four runs in the top of the first inning, three in the second, one in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth. Lehigh Valley scored two in the second and five in the third.
Green had three runs and two hits. Siefer scored two runs. Miller scored three runs. Masalski and Bennyhoff each scored one run.
Phoenixville played out of the National League with Audubon, East Brandywine, Stonersville and Lehigh Valley. West End, Spring-Ford and Kimberton played out of the American League with Southern Chester County and Douglassville (Daniel Boone).
On Sunday night, in a seeding game, Phoenixville fell to Audubon, 12-1, in four innings as Vaile rested several of his starting players.
Phoenixville scored one run in the top of the second inning. Audubon scored three in the firt, four in the second and five in the third.
Josh Havrilak, Siefer, Green and Miller had hits for Phoenixville with Siefer scoring the run.
Kevin Conrad (double) and Owen Evans (home run) each had two hits for Audubon. Mark Engelman and Conrad each had three RBI and and Evans had two RBI. Ian Stewart scored three runs with one hit and two walks and one RBI. Jared Carboy scored three runs with a triple, walk and one RBI.
On Saturday, Phoenixville nipped East Brandywine, 8-7. Green had two runs and one hit. Siefer had one hit and one run. Miller had two hits and one run. Syrek had one run and two walks. Lehning had two hits, one run and a walk. Masalski pitched five innings.
Phoenixville topped Stonersville, 9-6, by scoring four runs in the first, three in the third and two in the fifth. Green had two runs and two walks. Bennyhoff had a home run, two hits and two runs. Syrek doubled. Joe Vaile pitched three innings.
Kimberton, managed by Rich Sim, went 2-2 in the tourney. Kimberton nudged Douglassville, 7-6, Saturday.
West End nipped Kimberton, 8-7. Colin Hook had two runs, two doubles, three hits and two RBI for Kimberton.
Kimberton blanked Southern Chester County, 12-0. David Bolles slammed a home run for the winners while Tyler Skomsky doubled. Wilson Camp pitched three innings for the win.
In other games the scores were as follows: Spring-Ford 11, Southern Cheser County 1; Douglassville 11, Southern Chester County 1; Spring-Ford 6, West End 3; Audubon 19, Stonersville 5; East Brandywine 12, Lehigh Valley 7; Audubon 9, Lehigh Valley 7; Lehigh Valley 9, Stonersville 1; Audubon 3, East Brandywine 2; Douglassville 5, Spring-Ford 3; West End 5, Douglassville 2; and Spring-Ford 4, Kimberton 0.
Spring-Ford scored three runs in the first inning and one in the fifth in shutting out Kimberton. Nick Price pitched the first three innings for Spring-Ford, giving up no hits with seven strikeouts. T.J. Pergine hurled three innings of relief. Charlie Bensinger and Dan Keithley pitched for Kimberton.
Offensively for Spring-Ford, Adam Geremski had two runs and one hit. Price had two hits, one walk and one run. Nate Campbell had a double and one run.