Pine Forge Sr. Babe Ruth team wins state championship

The Pine Forge Senior Babe Ruth team won the state championship Sunday with a 1-0 victory over Spring Township at West Lawn. (Darryl Grumling/The Mercury)

On a day when runs were as hard to come by as sub-par scores in the British Open, one wound up being enough for Pine Forge Red.

Thanks to a typically outstanding effort from right-hander Brent Dieter, an impressive defensive performance and a fifth-inning sacrifice fly by Bryce Dieter, the Indians edged Spring Township Athletic Association 1-0 for the Pennsylvania Senior Babe Ruth state championship at a cloud-covered Owls Field.

Dieter fired a two-hitter and struck out four as the Ches-Mont League champion Indians (30-1) brought home their third straight state title.

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Its like basketball; the balls in my court, Brent Dieter said. I have full control of the baseball, so its (up to) how I pitch. Today I hit my spots and kept a low pitch count.

Dieter (8-0) has been lights-out most of the summer, but over the postseason hes managed to pick it up a notch.

In a 2-1 win over STAA in the Ches-Mont final, he retired the first 17 batters he faced en route to a two-hitter. Then, in an 8-0 victory over Perry County in Wednesdays state tourney opener, he threw a no-hitter.

Saturday marked the fifth meeting of the season between the Indians and STAA (23-8), but it was the same old Dieter.

He retired the first eight batters before Nate Smith reached on an infield single on a bang-bang call at first. Dieter didnt allow another runner until issuing back-to-back walks to Ryan Brunner and Dariel Richardson with two outs in the fifth before getting Smith to ground to second baseman Alex Cartacki for the third out.

Pinch-hitter Eric Hartranft led off the bottom of the seventh with a single off Dieter, but Cartacki turned Jared Kellers bouncer up the middle into a back-breaking double play (after Keller failed to get a sacrifice bunt attempt down) and Dieter finished off the gem by getting Marcus Leaf to pop to Austin Heimbach at first.

Hes in the strike zone most of the time, and thats all the difference in the world, STAA manager Gary Manderbach said of Dieter. He throws strikes and get guys out. We had a chance, but we didnt get the bunt down. You dont execute, you dont win.

When Brent pitches good, its hard for us to lose, said third baseman Daulton Weeks, who had two of Pine Forge Reds three hits.

He spotted pitches, and he worked ahead on every batter except for that stretch where he walked the two guys, Pine Forge Red manager Rich Zuber said. He had them hitting his pitch, and whenever he does that, hes tough.

Dieters mound counterpart, the right-hander Brunner, was also pretty tough retiring the first 11 batters he faced en route to a three-hitter.

Pine Forge Red scratched across the games lone run (of the unearned variety) when Ethan Emel led off the fifth with a single, took second on Adam Eshelmans groundout to third, moved to third when Brent Dieter reached on an error and scored on Bryce Dieters sac fly to shallow right field.

Situational baseball, said Zuber. Thats what we worked on a lot over the last quarter of the season.

That run would prove to be enough thanks to an errorless effort from the infield of Weeks, Tyler Emel, Cartacki and Heimbach.

Its the old story of pitching and defense, Zuber said. Whenever you coach at this level, you always go for defense. You dont let them score, you dont have to make it up. Thats what it came down to.

It also came down to the Indians wealth of veteran presences and uncanny chemistry, according to Weeks.

Every day of the summer before and after practice, well all do something together, he said. Were all best friends and we all like being around each other, and I think thats a big thing why weve been able to come out here and be successful.

They have that level of confidence without being cocky, Zuber said. They know what they can do and how they can do it, and they do what they have to (in order) to win. We didnt score as much as we had been today, but in four (state) games we scored 22 and the opposition scored four, and whenever you have that ratio youre going to be in good shape.

The Indians return to action Wednesday, July 31, with a first-round game in the Mid-Atlantic national regional, which they are hosting.

We got done what we needed to, Weeks said. Now we want one more (title), so we can go to (Babe Ruth World Series site) Alabama.