The Oley/Topton Patriots down Muhlenberg for second straight division title

Photo courtesy of Hope Distasio The Oley/Topton Patriots after winning their second straight Schuylkill/Berks South Division championship.

It didn’t come easy, but the Oley/Topton American Legion baseball team got what it wanted - another division title. In the Berks-Schuylkill’s Southern Division championship game on July 11, the Patriots defeated Muhlenberg, 4-1, for their second consecutive division title.

The Patriots began the day needing to win just one game over the A’s, but they had two chances to do so. The A’s won the first game, 3-0, despite getting just one hit against Oley/Topton pitcher Luke Erb. But in the second game, the Patriots came back with a 4-1 win.

“It was another great achievement for our organization,” said Patriots’ head coach Fred van Gulik. “Our players worked hard for this all year, but the bus does not stop here.”

By that he means the Patriots still have work to do in the Berks/Schuylkill League. Beginning Saturday, July 13, the Patriots will play the winner of the North Division in a best-of-three series. As of now, that team is yet to be determined.

After winning their first two playoff games, the Patriots were in a good position as they headed into championship day. They needed to win one of a possible two games to win the division title.

Oley/Topton would need that game. In the first game, Muhlenberg’s Dalton Fidler’s triple was the only hit of the game for the A’s, but thanks in part to three Patriot errors, the A’s were able to win the game, 3-0.

Muhlenberg pitcher Tyler Sassaman pitched a complete game shutout, allowing just four Oley/Topton hits, two of them came off the bat of Zach Eddinger.

Muhlenberg scored one in the first and two in the second, then Sassaman took over from there. Oley/Topton’s Luke Erb was the hard-luck loser, as all three Muhlenberg runs were unearned. He walked three and struck out seven.

“They were ticked off after that game,” said Coach van Gulik. “Erb threw a one-hitter, good enough to win, but our players bounced the ball around.”

So the Patriots had to put that behind them and play a second game, just minutes after the disappointing first game. Somehow, they managed to collect themselves and put together a solid performance. They had only three hits in the game, but this time they made the most of them and defeated the A’s, 4-1.

The A’s took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Pats came back with two in the bottom of the inning, then two more in the sixth for insurance.

Zach Eddinger earned the mound win, allowing one run on five hits and two walks while fanning seven.

According to Coach van Gulik, they did everything right in the second game.

“In order to win a division title, we had to play the game the way we can and the way we know - solid pitching, good

defense and timely hitting. All of those components were present tonight in the second game.”

A sacrifice fly by Kevin Sell and a RBI single by Hunter Renninger in the first inning gave Oley/Topton a lead they would never surrender.

Sell and Renninger also knocked in runs in the sixth inning to make the top of the seventh a lot less stressful for the Patriots.

The Pats celebrated their second straight division title, but they also knew the job wasn’t finished. They still have the championship series ahead of them and they want to avenge last year’s championship game loss to Southern Area.

“We’ll need to lay it like it’s the last series you will ever play in your life,” said Coach van Gulik. “If we bring that to the table, we can beat anyone.

The Oley/Topton Patriots opened the Schuylkill-Berks League playoffs with an 11-1 victory over Muhlenberg. The Patriots jumped out early, scoring four in the bottom of the first. They added two more in the third and fifth innings, then ended the game due to the mercy rule with four runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Zach Eddinger pitched a complete game four-hitter, fanning six Muhlenberg batters. The game was stretched over two days as it was suspended in the bottom of the sixth due to lightning.

Luke Erb paced the Oley/Topton offense with three hits, two RBIs and two runs scored. Nick Distasio also had three hits and two RBIs. He also knocked in one run. Hunter Renninger had two hits, one RBI and one run scored while Kevin Sell added two hits and two RBIs. Matt Fisher added two hits and Brian Galzcynski had a hit, one RBI and two runs scored.

The win sent the Patriots to the winner’s bracket final where they took on Fleetwood. It turned into a pitcher’s dual but the Patriots scored four times in the fourth which was all they would need to win the game, 4-0.

Eddinger and Sell walked to begin the fourth, and were knocked in by singles by Renninger and Galczyski, who were in turned knocked in on a two-run double by Distasio.

Distasio was the winning pitcher, allowing just two Fleetwood hits in going the distance. He walked one and struck out 10.

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