Preparing for the Dogwood Pageant

The following 2011 Dogwood Pageant contestants gathered together during practice this past Thursday. Front: Courtney Wieland, Kiley Dantonio, Brianna McDonald and Colleen Cunningham; Middle: Alyssa Boswell, Elizabeth Silkowski, Elisabeth Stevens and Shannon Horgan; Back: Jonette Brand, Haley Connors and Brittany Robey. Photo by Barry Taglieber

ROYERSFORD - Spring-Ford's Steve Young and Marty Early took turns being heroes Monday afternoon.

Young, a junior, pitched a complete game four-hitter with nine strikeouts and one walk and also finished 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored out of the No. 3 spot in the batting order as the Rams defeated rival Phoenixville, 7-1, in Pioneer Athletic Conference baseball action at Ram Stadium.

Early, a senior center fielder, swatted a three-run home run over the left-field fence and finished 2-for-3 with four runs batted in, one run scored and a sacrifice bunt to highlight an 11-hit assault.

Phoenixville (3-2, 4-2) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, but Spring-Ford (3-1, 4-3) erased the deficit on Early's one-out homer in the third. The Rams then added one run in the fifth and three more in the sixth while facing Phoenixville pitchers Evan Pilcicki and Jeff Fortmann. Each hurled three frames.

"We have been looking at coming together," said Young, who retired the Phantoms on 96 pitches. "We wanted to play a solid game like today. We all pulled everything together."

The Rams left the bases loaded in the first inning and stranded two more runners in the second before cashing in with three hits in the third.

"It is a lot easier to pitch with a lead than to pitch from behind," said Young. "I was also coming off a week of rest."

Young mixed his fastball with a sharp-breaking curveball and struck out the side to start the contest.

Young singled to left field to lead off the third inning. Designated hitter Dan McGrory, hitting out of the cleanup spot, followed with a single. With one out, Early delivered his homer on the first offering.

"That helped get us going," Early said. "We wanted to play a solid baseball game. I am having an all-right year (so far). I am trying to improve."

The game was played in cold, windy conditions, but the rain held off despite overcast skies. Rain would have only cluttered an already tight schedule this week.

"I was really pleased," said Spring-Ford manager Bruce Brobst. "We talked about putting a solid game together with pitching, defense and offense. We had opportunities in the first and second innings but we didn't capitalize. Marty's home run got us over the hump. It was good to see the guys relax more. Every inning we had guys on.

"We played defense and got a great pitching performance. That helps us immensely. I was glad we got the game in before the rains. We don't control the weather so I told them to just play."

Phoenixville leadoff man Jesse Daywalt picked up two of the hits off Young, and Bill Shirk and Zak Kissel had the other safeties.

The Phantoms scored their run when Shirk led off the second with a hit, courtesy runner Jon Wanczyk stole second base, Kissel legged out an infield hit to shortstop and Wanczyk scored on a wild pitch with Pilcicki batting.

McGrory and catcher Anthony Quintangelli also provided two-hit ballgames for the Rams.

Phoenixville manager Jack Sturgeon knows the Phantoms have a lot of work to do to improve.

"We are getting beat on execution of some fundamental plays," said Sturgeon. "We are not having an idea in situations. We have to pick up in every phase of the game. We are just not executing, and teams are taking advantage of it. Teams are taking chances on us and letting us off the hook.

"Teams are taking extra bases on us. We have to show we are capable of stopping things. We are not doing it and it is costing us big-time. Offensively, we are making a lot of easy outs. We are striking out and not putting the ball in play or (putting it in) weakly. That is something we have to work on."

NOTES ... Phoenixville hosts Perkiomen Valley Wednesday afternoon, Lansdale Catholic Friday and has a non-league game against Kutztown Saturday morning, all at "Doc" Kennedy Field. ... Spring-Ford visits Boyertown at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bear Stadium and hosts St. Pius X at 7 p.m. Thursday at Ram Stadium in a game that was switched from Friday.

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