WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — Down 5-0 with their tournament lives on the line, the Saegertown Little League all-stars belted their way to salvation.
Getting clutch hits up and down the batting order, Saegertown outscored Meadville/Vernon 10-0 over the final four innings to claim a 10-5 victory in the District 1 championship game on Friday at the Crawford County Fairgrounds.
Avenging an 8-4 loss to Meadville/Vernon earlier in the tournament, Saegertown’s win forces the if-necessary battle to decide the District 1 champion. It will be played Monday at 6 p.m. at the Erie Street Fields in Saegertown.
“Very proud,” said Saegertown head coach Brad Burchill. “Every single one of these boys were in this game. They all put their heart and soul into it to get this win.”
It took a lot of heart, as Meadville/Vernon piled up a 5-0 lead through two innings. M/V scored a pair in the first thanks to an RBI single by Rocco Woodrow and an RBI grounder by Henry DeSantis-Biggs.
M/V then added three more runs in the second thanks to a couple Saegertown errors and back-to-back singles by Aiden Kleist and Lucas Luteran.
“Hat’s off to Meadville,” said Burchill. “They’re a great team. And we could have folded easily after falling behind. But our guys never hang their heads. They stayed in the game and kept battling, every one of them.”
Garrett Crawford brought Saegertown to life with a huge swing in the third inning. With two down and the bases loaded, Crawford spanked one to the fence in right-center for a double, clearing the bags and cutting Meadville/Vernon’s lead to 5-3.
Saegertown then took over the lead in the fourth inning with four runs. William Shaffer tied the game up with a two-run single down the right field line. Wyatt Burchill followed with a double to right-center. And Gabriel Jordan later added a sacrifice fly to right.
“Saegertown put the bat on the ball,” said Meadville/Vernon head coach Matt Feleppa. “Those guys can hit. And they outhit us today, plain and simple.”
M/V had an opportunity to rally back with some base runners in the fourth inning. But Saegertown’s starter, Shaffer, and the defense behind him were able to get out of a bases-loaded jam. Wyatt Burchill, Saegertown’s center fielder, had the play of the game, robbing Meadville/Vernon’s Bradyn Miller of a potential home run with a catch over the fence in center.
“What a catch,” Feleppa said.
Saegertown put the game away with three runs in the sixth. DeMarcus Manning had an RBI double. Nolan Hughes drove in a run with an infield single. And Shaffer was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to put in the final run.
Meanwhile, Saegertown’s relief pitcher, Luke Young, slammed the door from the mound. He pitched two scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth, striking out four of the six batters he faced.