ROYERSFORD -- Host Spring City meshed another game of pitching, offense and defense Tuesday night and also utilized some of its younger personnel to remain...
By BARRY SANKEY
ROYERSFORD -- Host Spring City meshed another game of pitching, offense and defense Tuesday night and also utilized some of its younger personnel to remain unbeaten in the Pennsylvania Junior Legion Eastern Regional Tournament at Ram Stadium.
The River Bandits eliminated District 11 entry Paupack, 8-5, to move into today's championship round against once-beaten Shillington, a 7-5 winner over Spring Grove, in an 11 a.m. matchup. The "if necessary" game would follow at 3:15 p.m.
Both Spring City and Shillington have already assured themselves berths in this weekend's Pennsylvania State Tournament at Valley Forge, starting Saturday.
Southpaw Josh Mellon, Kenny Pierson and Sean Larkin combined on the mound victory for the River Bandits, scattering seven hits. Mellon pitched the first 5 2/3 innings for the win, giving up five hits and five runs (two earned) with nine strikeouts and four walks on 108 pitches.
Pierson faced four batters and Larkin pitched an inning for the save with two strikeouts.
Spring City banged out 11 basehits while posting two-run spots in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings. The River Bandits held an 8-2 lead at the end of five stanzas before Paupack tallied three runs in the top of the sixth innings to make the game close.
Pierson had three hits in four trips to the plate with a double and also reached base on an error. He also had one run batted in, one run scored and three stolen bases. Ricky Gorrell (double, three runs scored) and Andrew March also had two-hit outings for the River Bandits.
It has been a significant year for Pierson, who played on Spring-Ford High School's
PIAA Class AAAA state final team in the spring, and also spent some time with the Senior American Legion squad this summer as a double-rostered player.
"It feels great," said Pierson. "It has been a big year and a pretty good year here."
And it is still not completed.
"I have had a pretty good year overall," Pierson said. "The whole team has been hitting, and our pitchers always give us a good outing. They always give us their best. We never really let up to play that team tonight. They (Paupack) played totally relaxed tonight."
Spring City manager Rick Harrison was pleased with the showing of his ballclub.
"We told the boys going into the game this team is fighting for their lives," Harrison said. "We are still in states, but we need to play with more intensity. We want to get the top seed and win the regional.
"We subbed in quite a few guys. Josh hasn't pitched much this year. He only pitched seven innings all year. So it was good to score some runs and get the lead. Defensively, we have to tighten things up a little better. We will have to practice on being more prepared the next few days."
Spring City committed three errors, but that was mild compared to the seven miscues made by Paupack.
"I felt pretty good," said Mellon. "We are trying to get guys ready for states and stuff. I tried to get in there and go as long as I could. We had a lot of run support and it helped. The team did really good today."
Harrison took the opportunity to rest Michael Oczypok, who pitched Monday night's victory, and regular catcher Eric Pizzico. Cody Clarke played right field and Thomas Grablewski started in the catching slots before giving way to Ryan Conway.
In the Spring City first inning, Gorrell led off by reaching via an error and scored on Pierson's ringing double to center field. Pierson took third base on Larkin's groundout to first base and scored on a wild pitch.
Pierson started the third inning with a single and stole second and third base, but he was erased on a fielder's choice hit by Larkin. Andrew Keys stroked a two-out single and Clarke produced a run-scoring hit. After an intentional walk to Mellon, pinch-hitter Oczypok came through with a single to left field.
Paupack's Jake DeSane went 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and run scored. John Gardepe, the starting pitcher, added a pair of hits.
Gardepe pitched the first 3 1/3 innings for the visitors before giving way to Joe Bias for 1 2/3 innings and DeSane for one stanza.