,Area teams Spring City and NorChester are among the eight ballclubs competing in the Chester County League Senior American Legion baseball playoffs that open today at the sites of the higher seeded squads.
Spring City (14-5) is the No. 3 seed and will host No. 6 Pottsgrove (10-9) at Ram Stadium in one of four 5 p.m. starts. The double-elimination tournament will continue throughout the week.
NorChester (15-4) is the No. 2 seed as the Northern Division champion and will host No. 7 West Chester (9-10) at Owen J. Roberts High School at 5 p.m.
Downingtown (17-2) is the No. 1 seed and draws No. 8 Kennett (9-10) in the first round. The Diamond Dawgz, who were the Southern Division champions, have gained the CCL's automatic berth in the Region 3 Tournament that will take place in Lower Southampton in Bucks County starting on Saturday, July 26. The second berth will go to the playoff champion.
The other matchup has No. 4 Conestoga (12-7) hosting No. 5 Caln (11-8) at Wilson Park.
Spring City completed its regular season Monday night with a 16-10 victory over Kennett in the resumption of a suspended game at Unionville High School that was picked up in the top of the sixth inning. That gave West Chester and Kennett the same record and a tiebreaker was used to decide the seventh- and eighth-place teams. West Chester held the edge in case of a tie.
Frank Bartha picked up the Red Sox' latest victory with an inning of relief work. Kenny Pierson slugged a home run and knocked in five runs. Dennis Custer had a pair of hits and two RBI.
Despite starting their schedule late due to the senior high school run to the PIAA Class AAAA state finals, the Red Sox came on strong in the CCL circuit as well. The effort included some contributions from some players who were not members of the Rams' high school venture, like Kennedy Kenrick standout Christian Walker and St. Pius X's Jimmy Kolcun and second baseman Eric VonStetina. Walker has been on showcase trips in Florida and South Carolina. He has not played in 12 days, but he will be available to Spring City for the remainder of the playoffs.
The additions have blended well with the carryover players like left-handed pitcher Jason Ferrie, first baseman/pitcher Rich Guthridge, who has batted consistently in the .400 category all season; shortstop Zak Tupper, outfielder Custer, third baseman Jason Sampat, left fielder Ron Sivick and catcher James Hoff, a 15-year-old who will not turn age 16 until July 21, 2008.
Spring City's manager is Jamie Scheck. His assistant coaches are Pat Connors, Mike Heffernan, A.J. Petrolati and Mike Walton.
"We played all of our league games in roughly three weeks," Scheck said Monday night. "It was a struggle at times with our pitching. We lost a couple games we should have won, but we are happy where we are at.
"We took a trip to State College during the weekend. We lost the first game but
bounced back Sunday. We scored some runs and we scored a couple runs in the few innings tonight (Monday), so it is nice to see our bats going a little bit."
During the regular season, Spring City beat Pottsgrove twice by 8-2 and 6-5 scores, but Scheck is still wary of the Blue Jackets.
"It is a tough draw for us," Scheck said. "They have a lot of quality hitters in their lineup and they can run a little bit. It is not the best draw we could have had. They are so familiar with us and we are so familiar with them. That makes it tougher, I think."
NorChester's Bulldogs are the defending league champions under manager Corbin Stoltzfus.
Ace pitcher Matt Murray has left for Georgia Southern University, but the Bulldogs still have plenty of capable arms with Tyler Setzler, Jeff Kelly, Ryan Murphy, Harry Musser, Jeff Wiand and David Vining.
George Kochu is a 19-year-old veteran shortstop who has returned to the club from Chestnut Hill College. Tim Wiand is a veteran first baseman and Ethan Yeager is another experienced player at third base. Ryan Chesler is an 18-year-old catcher and youthful Brandon Engelhardt provides agility at second base.
The NorChester roster includes catcher/first baseman Steve Piskai, who is a 16-year-old from the Kimberton area and who does not turn age 17 until Oct. 5 of this year.
For the playoffs, rules include nine-inning contests.
If games are interrupted for rain or other reasons, they will be played starting at 1 p.m. the following day that will include doubleheaders in order to remain on schedule. The second games of the day will be played at 5 p.m.