The Boyertown Grizzlies completed a magical season with a clean sweep through the Pennsylvania Junior Legion state tournament to capture the state title.
The championship game against Uniontown was a microcosm of the Grizzlies' entire playoff run. After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the fifth, the Grizzlies battled back to tie things up in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to a pinch-hit RBI single by Anthony Panarello. The game was still tied 1-1 after 7 innings, sending the game into extra innings and chasing Grizzlies starting pitcher Zach Rothermel, who had held Uniontown to 4 hits and 1 unearned run over 7 innings. Ethan Ferraro entered in relief in the top of the 8th and held Uniontown scoreless, opening the door for the Grizzlies magic in the bottom of the 8th.
The bottom of the 8th started with an infield single by Zach Rothermel and a bunt reach-on-error by Cullen Nesbitt. After Rothermel stole third, Eljiah Calvert hit a chopper to the third baseman and Rothermel, who was running on contact, was thrown out at home. However, Nesbitt advanced to second to keep a Grizzly in scoring position. Eric Keebler grounded out to first to move Nesbitt and Calvert to third and second. Uniontown intentionally walked hot hitter Cole Kratz to load the bases and bring up Ryan Young. Young hit a ground ball up the middle and scored Nesbitt to secure the championship.
Some interesting facts about the Grizziles' playoff run and team:
- The Grizzlies' title run was truly a team effort, with all members of the team contributing to their success.
- The Grizzlies went 13-1 through the league, regional, and state playoffs (each playoff series was double elimination)
- They went 7-0 in one-run games in the three playoff series
- The Grizzlies won 3 of their 5 state playoff games with walk-off victories. They had also walked off 2 regional games and 1 league playoff game
- Cole Kratz led the Grizzlies in batting average in the state playoffs, with a .462 average. He won the top hitter award for the state tournament
- The Grizzlies were the home team in all regional and state playoff games except the first-round regional game to North Parkland (their only loss). That means they were 10-1 in winning coin flips. Team member David Wagner is attributed with always providing the right call on the coin flip
- The team had 13 players. Of those 13 players, 12 players were members of a B team at some point in their baseball journey. Their hard work and perseverance earned them a spot on the team and made them hungry for the title.