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The Fox Township Amerian Legion Post 511 baseball team earned a trip to the Elk County League championship game with a hard-fought 8-6 victory over St. Marys on Saturday night at Berwind Park.
"I have never been more proud of a team that I've coached than this group right here. We had probably four or five starters that didn't play tonight on account of injuries. These guys hung together all year long through a lot of adversity, a lot of troubled times, and to come back and be playing for a league championship says something about that group of kids right there. I'm very proud of them," said Fox Township Manager Kevin Petrocchi.
Fox Township relied on the pitching of brothers Alexx and Branden Tyger. Alexx started the night on the mound, working four and one-third innings and giving up six hits, walking four, and striking out one. Branden took over for the final two and two-thirds innings, walking two while striking out two.
Ben Cortina started on the mound for St. Marys, working three and two-thirds innings and giving up seven hits, walking four, and striking out four. Kevin Hoy worked the final three and one-third innings, giving up four hits, walking four, and striking out five.
Fox Township recorded 11 hits in the contest, led by Justin Quiggle with a double and a single. Alexx Tyger, Justin Beimel, and Branden Tyger each had a pair of singles. Brandon Vollmer had a double, and Luke Schreiber and Michael Fox each singled.
St. Marys had six hits, led by Mitchell Meyer with a pair of singles. Dan Singer, Eric Wehler, Jake Cortina, and Vincent Jacob each also singled.
Both teams managed to put runners on base in the opening inning, though neither squad was able to score. Alexx Tyger and Luke Schreiber both walked for Fox. After Justin Quiggle went down swinging, a fielder's choice by Justin Beimel allowed Tyger and Schrieber to each advance another base. That was as far as they got, though, as Branden Tyger flied out to right to send St. Marys up to bat. The Post 103 squad did not fare much better, however; Mitchell Meyer reached base after being hit by a pitch, but was not able to advance as Dan Singer flied out to center. A fielder's choice by Eric Wehler sent Meyer to second, and Kevin Hoy joined him on base as he was also hit by a pitch. Both were left stranded, though, as Ivan Wortman flied out to left to end the inning.
Brian Merritt led off the top of the second for Fox by reaching base on an error. With Brandon Vollmer up to bat, Merritt tried to steal second and was thrown out by the catcher. Vollmer ended up reaching base on a walk, but never made it past first as Lucas Lovenduski flied out and Michael Fox struck out. The home half of the inning was the only time St. Marys never put a runner on base as their batters went down in order.
Fox finally got on the board in the top of the third. With one out, Schreiber walked and advanced to third on a double by Quiggle. A single by Beimel scored Schreiber and sent Quiggle to third. Beimel was also able to make it to second on the play. The lone run was all the Post 511 squad could manage, though, as the next two batters went down swinging. St. Marys turned up their offense in the bottom of the inning and took over the lead with a pair of runs of their own. With two outs, Singer walked and advanced to second on a single by Wehler. Hoy walked to load the bases, and an error on a shot to left by Wortman allowed both Singer and Wehler to score, giving St. Marys a 2-1 lead.
A strong top of the fourth gave Fox Township back the lead, and they never relinquished it for the remainder of the contest. Vollmer led off with a double and advanced to third as Lovenduski grounded out to the second baseman. Vollmer scored on a single by Fox, who advanced to second as Alexx Tyger reached base on an error. Fox and Tyger each picked up a base on a passed ball, and Fox scored on a single by Schreiber. Quiggle flied out to center field, scoring Tyger on the play. Beimel singled, scoring Schreiber. Beimel also picked up an extra base on the play. Branden Tyger singled, putting runners on the corners as Beimel went to third. Hoy took over on the mound for St. Marys, walking Merritt to load the bases, and then walking Vollmer to score Beimel. Fox was unable to keep the momentum going, though, as Lovenduski grounded out to first. Fox's five runs gave them a 6-2 lead. St. Marys cut into that advantage in the home half of the inning with another pair of runs. With one out, Ben Cortina reached base on an error and advanced to second on a single by Vincent Jacob. A single by Meyer loaded the bases for St. Marys, and Cortina scored on a single by Singer. Singer was out at second on a fielder's choice by Eric Wehler, but Jacob scored on the play and Meyer went to third, cutting Fox's lead to 6-4. With the potential tying runs on base, Hoy flied out to center, ending the inning.
Fox pushed through another run in the top of the fifth, extending their lead. With one out, Alexx Tyger singled. After a fly out by Schreiber, Quiggle singled, scoring Tyger and making the score 7-4. Quiggle made it to second on the play, but that was as far as he got as Biemel grounded out. St. Marys scored their final pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. Wortman led off by reaching base on an error and advanced to second on a single by Jake Cortina. Wortman and Cortina each advanced a base as Jack Herzing grounded out to the pitcher. Ben Cortina walked, loading the bases. Jacob also walked, scoring Wortman, and Jake Cortina scored on a single by Meyer. At this point, Fox Township decided to change pitchers, sending Branden Tyger to the mound in relief of his brother. Singer flied out to center, and Ben Cortina tried to score on the play. The throw home got there first and Cortina was called out, ending the inning with Fox holding on to a slim 7-6 lead.
Branden Tyger led off with a walk in the top of the sixth, but the next three batters went down in order. St. Marys was unable to take advantage of the scoreless inning for Fox Township as they too left a runner on base. Wehler got a free pass to first after being hit by a pitch, but with Hoy up to bat, he tried to steal second and was thrown out by the catcher. Hoy ended up striking out. Wortman walked, but Jake Cortina grounded out to third, ending the inning.
Fox scored their final run in the top of the seventh. With one out, Alexx Tyger singled and advanced to second on a passed ball. Schreiber walked, giving Fox a pair of base runners. An error on a shot by Quiggle scored Tyger and sent Schreiber to second. After Beimel went down swinging, Branden Tyger singled, loading the bases. Fox was unable to take advantage of the situation, though, as Merritt went down swinging, bringing St. Marys up for their final at-bat with Fox holding on to a 8-6 lead. With two outs, Jacob walked and Meyer looked ready to join him on base as he sent a shot up the third base line, but Fox third baseman Lucas Lovenduski stuck out his glove and snagged the line drive, ending the game and St. Marys' hopes of returning to the league title game.
Fox Township will travel to top-seeded and undefeated Wilcox tonight at 5:30 p.m. to play for the Elk County League championship. If Fox wins, the two teams will each have one loss and will meet again on Tuesday to decide the title. The winner will advance to the Region 8 Tournament, which will be held at Berwind Park next week. Though St. Marys has been eliminated from the Elk County League playoffs, they receive an automatic berth in the Region 8 Tournament as the host team.
Fox Township 8
Alexx Tyger 4-3-2, Luke Schreiber 2-2-1, Justin Quiggle 5-0-2, Justin Beimel 5-1-2, Branden Tyger 4-0-2, Brian Merritt 4-0-0, Brandon Vollmer 2-1-1, Lucas Lovenduski 4-0-0, Michael Fox 4-1-1. Totals 34-8-11.
St. Marys 6
Mitchell Meyer 4-0-2, Dan Singer 3-1-1, Eric Wehler 3-1-1, Kevin Hoy 2-0-0, Ivan Wortman 3-1-0, Jake Cortina 4-1-1, Jack Herzing 3-0-0, Luke Newhouse 1-0-0, Ben Cortina 3-1-0, Anthony Grimone 1-0-0, Vincent Jacob 1-1-1. Totals 28-6-6.
Score by innings R
Fox 001 510 1 8
St. Marys 002 220 0 6