Trojans make run in state tournament
All season long, the stated goal for the South Parkland American Legion baseball team was a state championship.
The Trojans run took them through an undefeated regular season and then through regionals to claim the Region 2 title with a win over a Souderton team comprised primarily of players who were on the PIAA championship team from Souderton High School.
In states, South Parkland opened 1-1 in the double-elimination tournament and then beat French Creek Valley 7-4 to move within one game of playing for the championship. But then the Trojans ran into Swoyersville, the eventual state champion, and dropped a 3-2 game to end their season-long quest.
“We’ve felt from day one that we had the players to win a state championship,” said head coach Tom Kahn. “Our pitching was going to carry us and we figured that there was enough offense that would come through for us along the way to put us where we wanted to be. It’s a great group of kids and they’ve worked hard for us this season.”
Optimism reached a high during the state tournament when the pitching-rich Trojans also started to see a late offensive run. South Parkland put up 27 runs in its first three games of the tournament, besting its total run production in regionals where it scored 13 runs in five games.
In the opener against Bristol, the Trojans used a 10-run fourth inning to cruise to a 15-0 win over Bristol. Adam Mellinger had the biggest day at the plate for South Parkland, going 3-for-3 with four RBIs and crossed the plate twice in the game. Joe Webber scored three times and drove in three runs, delivering a big two-run double in the fourth when 12 straight South Parkland batters reached base.
Against Hempfield East, the tables turned and South Parkland was on the wrong end of a big inning when East scored seven runs in the third, erasing a 4-1 South Parkland lead. Koby Staivecki finished the game 3-for-3 with Mellinger and Alex Oliver each chipping in with two hits. Eventually, the Trojans fell to East 11-5.
Playing the rest of the tournament in the elimination bracket didn’t seem to bother the Trojans as they bounced right back with a 7-4 win over Region 8 champion French Creek Valley. Again, the trio of Staivecki, Oliver and Mellinger had big games, both at the plate and on the mound. Oliver started and pitched 5 1/3 innings while scoring two runs in the game. Staivecki came on in relief to finish out the game and finished the day with two hits, a run and an RBI. Meanwhile, Mellinger drove a two-run double in the win.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, that’s where their run ended. Swoyersville was able to contain the South Parkland’s revived bats for a 3-2 win and a trip to the finals.
With the game tied 2-2 going to the seventh, Parkland loaded the bases in the top of the inning, but was unable to push a run across the plate. The momentum swung back to Swoyersville at that point and it loaded the bases for Daniel Gibbons, who singled into center to drive in the winning run.
“Ultimately, we didn’t get where we wanted to be, but we set the bar pretty high,” said Kahn. “We still had a great season and our kids don’t have any reason to hang their heads.”
South Parkland was without standout shortstop Matt Ervolina, who had come up big in regionals for the team, hitting .643 and playing stellar defense. The Trojans ended their season at 26-3 with a Region 2 championship trophy in their hands.