29 random quotes (and a not so random statement) from a State Tournament that ended how - and when - it should have:1. "When you give the opposition momentum, good things start to happen for them Hopefully we can bounce back tomorrow" (Bob Thompson, manager of Region 4 Lititz, after the team's 10-4 loss to Region 6 Plum in the tournament's opening game. Lititz would be the first team to be eliminated from the tournament when they lost to NorChester, 8-0, the next day.)

2. "It was a good team win. Zane (Wallace) pitched real good, and hopefully we can have four more team wins like that." (Scott McGough, Plum shortstop after Plum's 10-4 win over Lititz. McGough collected three hits, two runs, and two RBIs in the win.)

3. "I think we totally expected to be here." (Nick Long, pitcher/outfielder from Hollidaysburg, commenting on his team's triumphing over perennial Region 7 power State College to get to the State Tournament. Long was the winning pitcher in Hollidaysburg's 12-0 win over Bradford in Game 2, but the Region 7 champs suffered a heartbreaking loss to Boyertown in Game 8, then suffered a meltdown in being eliminated by NorChester, 15-4, in Game 10.)

4. "I'm proud of the team they've played very hard we're a young team, we only have two kids graduating that are going on to college and I just think it's a great experience for them." (Mark Arcure, head coach of Region 5 champion Abington.)

5. "They're a good team Any team in states is gonna be good Definitely the toughest team I faced all year." (Hatfield ace Kevin Christy, after his brilliant, three-hit effort in Hatfield's 3-2 win over NorChester in Game 3.)

6. "You don't want to start off with a loss, but the last two years we came out of the loser's bracket to get where we wanted to go" (Corbin Stoltzfus, head coach of NorChester, after his team's 3-2 loss to Hatfield in Game 3.)

7. "Hopefully gonna take advantage of some more strikes - if I get 'em." (An obviously frustrated Nole Saylor, after drawing four of Boyertown's 16 walks in its 12-2 win over Abington in Game 4.)

8. "Not really." (Bradford's Ryan Labrozzi, after pitching his team to a 4-2 win over Abington in Game 6, when asked if anything specific went through his mind when told that he'd be pitching in Game 6. The win started the Region 8 champs on a magical - and epic - ride through the loser's bracket to the Great Lakes National Regional.)

9. "Orin and I get together ('cause we're best friends), he's tenor and I'm bass, and we sing through it." (John Hazle, explaining how he and Orin Hatch rehearse the National Anthem. John and Orin did a super job singing our country's National Anthem, avoiding the excessive - and, in my opinion, disrespectful - personal interpretations that many people employ when singing this song.)

10. "Through Mr. Kershetsky - he was assigned to get everybody to come and sing, and he called us, 'cause he didn't have anybody else!" (Orin Hatch. See previous quote.)

11. "He was throwing me a lot of off-speed stuff. I wasn't looking off-speed - I was sitting on fastball, but I knew off-speed was coming." (Cody Kulp, on his dramatic, two-strike single in the ninth inning that broke the 4-4 tie in Boyertown's Game 8 win over Hollidaysburg. Not long thereafter, Nole Saylor finally saw a strike and delivered insurance in the form of a two-run single.)

12. "I was so far ahead the whole game and I finally stayed back and just hit something up the middle - it felt good." (Saylor, on his two-run single in Game 8.)

13. "Tomorrow's the big one, tomorrow's the one we want - tomorrow's the one I want, I know that." (Todd Speilman, ever the team player, after diverting attention from his pitching victory in Game 8 to the next day's winner's bracket finale and its importance.)

14. "Boyertown showed that it can come through when it needs to." (Mercury writer and fellow Boyertown Alumni Band member Dennis Weller, when asked to comment on Boyertown's Game 8 win.)

15. "I was kind of nervous coming out of the pen, 'cause I didn't really have my curve ball in the bullpen, but then once I got out in the game I settled down I got in a groove and everything I was throwing was going right where I wanted it This is by far the biggest game that I've ever pitched in, and it's probably the best one I've thrown in a really long time." (Nate Schnell, after his incredible pitching in Game 11. More on Nate later.)

16. "Incredible. It's an amazing feeling. It's a feeling that not many people get to experience and I'm very fortunate that I get to do it." (The amazingly mature reaction of young Bryar Eshbach after being credited with the win in Boyertown's 12-9 win over NorChester in Game 13 - as a rookie.)

17. "That's probably the worst (defensive) game we played all year, and unfortunately we picked Boyertown to have it against." (Stoltzfus, after Game 13.)

18. "He's got a huge heart He's got the heart of a lion - all these guys do." (Stoltzfus commenting on Tyler Stetzler after the latter's 5-for-5 performance and two innings on the mound versus Boyertown in Game 13 despite battling tendonitis in his shoulder since the Chester County playoffs.)

19. "We got great weather, very little delays, and every-thing's going good as far as I can tell." (Boyertown volunteer Barry Dierolf, on the overall flow of the Tournament.)

20. "We didn't exactly know how they were going to respond, and I guess the satisfying thing is they responded they way they should have. They came back from being behind in games, they nailed down games when they were ahead those are the things that can help us next week." (Boyertown head coach Rick Moatz, after Game 14.)

21. "Probably not." (Moatz, again after Game 14, when asked if he's ever 'ridden' any 'horse' that was as hot as Shayne Houck was in this tournament. Houck was merely 15-for-18 at the plate and 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and two saves on the mound while joining NorGwyn's Greg Folgia (2005) as the only players since 1990 to sweep the pitching award, the hitting award, and the overall tournament MVP.)

22. "Wonderful - couldn't be better. Absolutely couldn't be better." (tournament chair Jerry Basco.)

23. "I was not expecting this, but I'll take it." (Houck, after his amazing tournament.)

24. "We weren't the favorite to win Regionals and they weren't the favorite to even win a game here, so this is something new for everybody." (Justin Jones, assistant coach for Bradford, after Game 14.)

25. "Oh definitely. To come to a field like this and play in front of a crowd like that, it's great exposure for everybody. It's a chance in a lifetime and I think they realize that." (Jones again, who added that the team began to feel that their incredible journey could come to fruition halfway through the team's win over Hatfield in Game 9.)

26. "I don't like the word 'Cinderella' I'm overwhelmed at how far we've gone we've been to a State Tournament once, never won a state game until this year, and then here we are, we lose the first game and come back and win three straight. (Brian Fox, manager of Region 8 Bradford. Coach, you might not like the word 'Cinderella,' but your team's heroic struggle from underdog at your own Regional to State runners-up has certainly been an inspiration to all. Good luck out in Ohio!)

27. "I just want to say 'good luck' to these guys, I mean, it's been a thrill for three straight years for me, it's as good as it gets, an honor and a pleasure to be here." (Mark Saylor, father of centerfielder Nole Saylor, on his experience with three consecutive state champions.)

28. "Way to go, Brent, you had a great season!" (Kelly Saylor on the often overlooked contributions of second baseman Brent Ruminski.)

29. "I want to thank all the parents for their help through the year in the concession stand. If it wouldn't be for you, we wouldn't be where we are." (Barbara Britzenhoff on the Bears' volunteers in the food stand.)

The highlight of this tournament, in my opinion, was not the oft-quoted Game 8 thriller over Hollidaysburg, or the narrow win over NorChester, or the incredible play of Shayne Houck, or perhaps not even the Champion-ship itself. To me, the highlight of this tournament was watching the incredible pitching performance of Nate Schnell in Game 11. To watch this young man pitch so well (three hits and no runs in seven innings) after hearing the sincere disappointment in his voice when describing his early-season struggles well, I felt so glad for Nate that after interviewing him after Game 11 I gave him a bear hug (pardon the pun).

FUTURE SIGHTINGS: The Bears open the MidAtlantics in Colonial Heights, Virginia, with a 12:30 game on Thursday versus Maryland champion Gaithersburg (39-3). The Bears lost to Gaithersburg in the opening game of the 2004 Mid-Atlantics, but beat the Maryland champs on the way back through the loser's bracket en route to the 2004 Legion World Series. In other opening round games, New York state champion Anaconda (45-9) plays New Jersey runners-up Edison (9:30 a.m.), Virginia state champion South Richmond (28-4) plays West Virginia champion Morgantown (29-11) at 4 p.m., and host Colonial Heights (18-8) plays Delaware state champion Newark (24-10) in the night game Five of last year's eight participants in the 2007 Legion World Series are in the national regionals this year Bradford opens their play in the Great Lakes Regional with a night game versus host Chillicothe, Ohio.

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