The Brandywine Heights baseball team came on strong to finish in third place in Berks III this spring. Now, the Topton Legion team wants to build on that momentum to make a run at a playoff berth.
Through games as of June 8, the Rams are 2-2, but 2-0 against Blue Division foes with wins over Wyomissing and Oley Valley. They lost to Muhlenberg and Hamburg.
Reinhard and Kyle Moser are the key players for Topton. Reinhard is the team's ace. He throws right but hits left, making him a valuable No. 2 hitter.
"I save Reinhard to pitch big games," coach Adam Erb said. "His fastball moves, and he has good location."
Both Reinhard and Moser have slugged two homers in the early going.
Moser was an all-division selection at shortstop this spring as was Emerich as a utility player.
At the Brandywine Sports Banquet, Moser earned the MVP for baseball, and Reinhard received the Coach's Award for the best all-around player.
"We must come out ready to play every game," Reinhard said. "We have the talent, but we must put it all together to beat these teams."
Reinhard's success on the mound is no secret to him.
"I'm not afraid to throw inside," Reinhard said. "I try to mix it up a lot and keep them guessing. I throw a fastball, curve and occasional change."
Last summer, Reinhard displayed his versatility, playing every position except catcher although he says third base is his best position.
Although Reinhard is looking forward to playing baseball at Northampton Community College, he is concentrating totally on earning one of the two playoff berths in Topton's five-team division.
"Last year, a lot of guys were playing where they weren't accustomed to, but this season we're playing the positions we played in high school," said Reinhard explaining why the Rams already have as many wins as they had all last summer.
"If we play more intense, I think we'll fight with either Fleetwood or Kutztown for a playoff spot," Erb said. "Our main goal is to make the playoffs and go from there."
Hitting is one of Topton's strengths, but the team is definitely lacking team speed.
The pitching should be solid with Reinhard followed by Emerich, Pritchard and Moulder in the all right-handed starting rotation. Kehm will see some action in relief, and Kyle Moser and Stoudt are also available for duty on the mound.
"Emerich has really good control and command of his pitches," Erb said. "He doesn't throw quite as hard as Reinhard, but his velocity is good for a younger guy."
At the moment, left fielder Kyle Geist is sidelined with a cut hand. He's missed the last two games.
But the rest of the batting order is ready to do some damage, though. Ben Pritchard (CF/P) is leading off followed by Kyle Reinhard (P/3B), Matt Emerich (P/2B), Kyle Moser (SS/P), Brad Stoudt (OF/1B/P), Bobby Moulder (P/3B), Matt Walker (C), Geist (when healthy) and Mark Moser (OF/2B).
Reserves include Shane Murr (OF), Brenden Kehm (P/1B), Steve Seyler (C), Brian Parker (1B) and Mike Ference (IF),
Parker didn't play high school baseball for Brandywine. He attends Salem Christian School and had arm surgery in January, limiting him to first base. Ference played JV this season, and Seyler has impressed Erb with his hitting in limited opportunities.
Last year, the Rams struggled for players, but six of their Junior Legion kids moved up this summer. The Junior Legion team advanced to the county finals last summer only to lose to Shillington.
With this influx of talent, coach Erb's bunch should be a contender and, at the very least, improving on their position in the division.
(Nils Groten is a freelance writer. Contact him through the sports editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.)