SAEGERTOWN — Meadville/Vernon shortstop Lucas Luteran smashed the first pitch he saw. The ball took a direct path out and over the center-field wall, giving Meadville/Vernon a three-run lead heading into the final inning of play.
That lead was more than enough as Meadville/Vernon held on to defeat Saegertown 9-6 on Monday for the District 1 Little League baseball championship at Erie Street Fields.
Meadville/Vernon needed a rubber match following a 10-5 defeat to Saegertown on July 5. On Monday, it was win-or-go-home and M/V delivered when it mattered most.
“The loss humbled (my players) very much. We built off of that and we know we were going to come in here to a fight,” said M/V head coach Matt Feleppa.
M/V started the fight with the first swing in the bottom of the first. Aidan Kleist reached on an infield error. Luteran was hit by a pitch after to move Kleist over to second. A wild pitch brought both runners into scoring position.
Bradyn Miller hit a grounder to short which was misplayed and overthrown. Kleist and Luteran scored for the 2-0 lead. Miller later reached home plate on a passed ball, making it 3-0 early.
Saegertown bounced right back cutting the lead to 3-2 in the top of the second. Garrett Crawford reached first on an overthrow. After a strikeout, Demarcus Manning got the first hit of the ballgame with a single into left field. An overthrown ball to first on Reese Wilkinson’s at-bat allowed Crawford and Manning’s pinch runner Levi Gardner to score.
In the top of the third, Luke Young walked to start the inning and Gabriel Jordan needed one swing to give Saegertown the lead. He belted a ball to deep center field and just over the wall for a two-run homer, giving Saegertown the 4-3 lead.
“All the respect in the world to that Saegertown team, great program, great coaches, great kids,” said coach Feleppa. “It was a great ballgame. We just kept our heads up and last time our emotions got the best of us. We kept our emotions up and did what we had to do to get the win.”
M/V started to get hits in the bottom of the third, which was a great response to surrendering the lead. Miller and Ross Woodrow singled. Then, Henry DeSantis-Biggs drilled a liner into center field to bring home both runners.
DeSantis-Biggs was thrown out on a fielder’s choice that allowed A.J. Feleppa on base. After Patrick Smith walked, Feleppa was in scoring position. Simon Farrelly-Jackson found space for a single to right field to score Feleppa for the 6-4 lead.
Yet, Saegertown matched M/V once again with two runs off a two-out rally in the top of the fourth. William Shaffer singled to start the rally. Wyatt Burchill reached on a fielder’s choice that Shaffer beat to second base. Young walked to load the bases for Jordan.
The home run hitter drew a hard-fought eight-pitch walk to score Shaffer. Then, Crawford singled to center field to bring home Burchill and tie the game.
“We always seem to be battling back in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning,” said Saegertown head coach Brad Burchill. “We’re never out of the fight. The kids never hang their heads.”
While Saegertown kept battling, M/V made the extra plays to change the game. Miller led off the bottom of the fourth with a double into right-center field. He scored on an RBI single from DeSantis-Biggs.
A failed fielder’s choice and a walk loaded the bases for Colin Reichel, who wisely faced four straight balls without swinging to get the RBI walk for the 8-6 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Luteran’s solo shot made it 9-6 for M/V.
“It was the first one he ever hit, so that was cool for him,” said coach Feleppa. “What I liked most about it was it scored us a run.”
In the sixth, A.J. Feleppa sealed his six-out save with three straight plays in the infield. Burchill grounded to first, Young popped up behind the plate and Jordan hit a hard grounder to third.
“People we need to hit, hit,” said coach Feleppa. “And like I said, we kept our heads and played six innings of baseball.”
Paul Phillis earned the win for M/V. He pitched four innings and allowed four earned runs on five hits. He fanned six.
At the plate, DeSantis-Biggs was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a run. Luteran tallied one hit, one RBI and two runs. Farrelly-Jackson went 1-for-1 with an RBI. Reichel also tabbed an RBI.
For Saegertown, Jordan was 1-for-3 with three RBIs and a run. Crawford also went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run.