Although they did have a few key players from last year’s team that didn’t return, the Oley/Topton Patriots were expecting a successful year. Head Coach Fred van Gulik had high hopes for his team that won the Southern Division championship of the Schuylkill/Berks League in 2012.
The goal this year was to not only win the division championship, but win the league title, and qualify for the Region 2 Tournament in Boyertown.
The Patriots accomplished that when they defeated Pine Grove in two straight games of a best-of-three league championship series.
It was another great achievement for our program,” said head Van Gulik. “We wanted to get back to the Region 2 Tournament. It could only be with a division championship this season since unlike last year (two spots), our league got only one spot.
The Region 2 tournament turned out to be a bit of a disappointment for Oley/Topton. After winning their first game the Patriots lost their next two games and were eliminated from the tournament.
The season began with a good omen when Oley/Topton won the Boyertown Fathers’ Day Tournament against some very tough opponents, including a win over Boyertown.
Early in the Schuylkill/Berks League, the Patriots were a bit inconsistent at times. But they kept improving with time and by the end of the season they were third in the Southern Division with a record of 8-4.
In the league tournament, the Patriots won their first four games, setting up a championship day in which they needed to win just one of two games against Muhlenberg. They needed that second game, but were able to defeat the A’s, 4-1, to capture the division championship for the second consecutive season.
Muhlenberg won the first game of the day by a 3-0 score. Luke Erb pitched a one-hitter for Oley/Topton, but some shaky defense helped to give Muhlenberg the win.
“They were ticked off after that game,” said Van Gulik. Erb pitched well enough to wiun but our players bounced the ball around.”
They turned the anger into a solid performance in game two to give the Patriots the division crown. Muhlenberg took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Patriots came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning to take a lead they would never surrender.
The victory sent the Pats to the best-of-three championship round where they would take on Pine Grove, the winner of the Northern Division championship.
Game one of the series was a nail-biter, going into 10 innings. Hunter Renninger was the hero in this game, ripping a pair of home runs, including a solo shot in the top of the 10th for the go-ahead run that turned into the winning run.
“Renninger’s approach at the plate is getting better every game,” said Van Gulik. “This kid is going to be special.”
Game two only needed the usual seven innings as Luke Erb pitched a six-hit shutout to lead the Patriots to a 5-0 victory.
As league champions, Oley/Topton earned a berth in the Region 2 tournament in Boyertown. The first game was a match-up against North Parkland, the team that eliminated the Pats from the Region 2 Tournament last year.
Oley/Topton got its revenge with a 6-3 win. The Pats jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and were never challenged until North Parkland finally scored with three runs in the top of the ninth.
Zach Eddinger allowed six North Parland hits and struck out nine to lead the team to the victory. Renninger had two hits, two RBIs and one run scored while Eddinger and Bryce Galzynski each had two hits, one RBI and one run scored.
The win sent Oley/Topton to the winner’s bracket where they took on Twin Valley on July 21. But the Raiders proved too much for the Pats on this day, as Twin Valley won the game, 10-0.
A four-run third inning gave Twin Valley a 5-0 lead, then added two in the sixth and two in the eighth to break the game open.
Then the season ended for Oley/Topton when the ran into another tough pitcher. This time Pottstown’s James Mullen held the Patriots to four hits to lead his team to a 3-0 victory.
Matthew Fisher had a pair of hits for the Patriots, but the locals were unable to push across any runs in their last two games. It was a bit ironic considering how good their offense had been all season.
It was a tough way to end the season, but it didn’t take away the fact that it was a very good season for the Patriots who earned their first Schuylkill/Berks League championships.