The Bear Paws have won the Berks League crown in back-to-back years, this year defeating Hamburg in the title game. Both teams will be playing in the state tournament, which Boyertown will be hosting July 29 - August 2 at Bear Stadium.
The Paws started the double elimination tournament with a game against the Fleetwood Wildcats. The game was all Bear Paws and was shortened by the 10-run mercy rule, 16-4 after 5 innings. Ben Swenk led the Boyertown offense, going 4-4 with four RBI and two runs scored. Jaxon Wolf earned the win with a complete game four hit outing, striking out three.
Boyertown’s second round game was against the Hamburg Reds, In what would be a preview of the championship game. Hamburg jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Bear Paws responded with four runs in the bottom of the inning and later added two runs in the bottom of the third and three runs in the bottom of the fifth to expand their lead to a comfortable 9-2 margin. The Reds would get three runs back in the top of the seventh, but it was not enough and the Paws held on to win 9-5. Ben Swenk and Jake Kitcey each had two hits for Boyertown. Bear Paws starting pitcher Drew Moser went 3.2 innings and earned the win, yielding only two hits. He was relieved by the trio of Ben Swenk, Kade Beck, and Roman Kerkusz, who scattered five hits over 3.1 combined innings.
The win over Hamburg propelled the Bear Paws into the winner's bracket final against the Post 217 Patriots. After a scoreless first, Boyertown got on the board first with a three-run bottom of the second. Kade Beck started the inning by reaching on an error, and Jake Kitcey followed with a walk. Beck advanced to third on a wild pitch and ended up coming in to score on a Roman Kerkusz sacrifice fly. The Paws then loaded the bases when Ryan Yedlinsky singled and Bryson Ruth walked. Drew Moser drove in the second Boyertown run of the inning with a ground ball-induced error at second, and Mason Matlack followed with a bunt single to score another run. After two innings, the Bear Paws led 3-0. Boyertown starting pitcher Jake Kitcey held Post 217 scoreless in the top of the third, setting his offense up to get back to work in the bottom of the inning. Jackson Koback led off the inning with a double and was advanced to third on a bunt single by Kade Beck. Pitcher Jake Kitcey helped his own cause with an RBI line drive signal to left, and Roman Kerkusz followed with his own line drive RBI single to left. Now with a 5-0 lead, Kitcey went back to the mound and worked a 1-2-3 top of the fourth. The Bear Paws offense followed the good defensive inning with three more runs, and the rout was on. Post 217 would get two back in the top of the fifth but the Paws would answer in the bottom of the inning with two more of their own and tacked on an additional run in the bottom of the sixth to ensure the final 11-2 victory.
The win in the winner's bracket final ensured the Bear Paws a spot in the championship game, due to the Double Elimination format of the tournament. The winner of the winner's bracket in an 8-team double elimination tournament plays what is known as “the throwaway game”, because they are the only undefeated team remaining in the tournament and are ensured of advancing to the championship game even if they lose. The throwaway game for the Bear Paws was against the Norchester Bulldogs, and the outcome did not lead an observer to believe that the Bear Paws were throwing anything away. After a scoreless first, the Bear Paws got on the board in the bottom of the second when Ben Swenk hit a lead-off single and came around to score on a Kade Beck groundout. Norchester answered with a strong top of the third, taking a 3-1 lead. The Bear Paws did not panic, even after a scoreless bottom of the third, instead hanging a four-spot on the Bulldogs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-3 lead. The big inning was started by a Carter Ramus one-out single and followed by a Ben Swenk RBI single, a Jackson Koback double, and a Kade Beck walk. With the bases loaded, Swenk was able to score on a passed ball and Koback moved up to third, one pitch before Jake Kitcey scored him on a sacrifice fly and put the Paws ahead 4-3. One batter later, Roman Kerkusz hit his own RBI single to push the Boyertown advantage to 5-3. Norchester would not score again in the game, but the Boyertown offense was not finished and continued its game-long trend of scoring in the even numbered innings, plating five more runs in the bottom of the sixth to put the game out of reach and secure the 10-3 victory. Ben Swenk continued his torrid hitting pace for the tournament, going 3-3 with an RBI and three runs scored. On the mound, Kade Beck got the pitching start for Boyertown, scattering two hits and two runs over two innings while striking out two. Roman Kerkusz entered in relief and pitched the remaining five innings, earning the win while yielding only one run on five hits with three strikeouts.
Having won the throwaway game, the Bear Paws were in a very strong position in the championship game, a rematch against Hamburg. The Reds would have to beat them twice in order to take the championship, while the Bear Paws only needed one win for them to secure the title. The Reds came out ready to play in the first championship game, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the second and never trailing on their way to a 13-6 victory. Boyertown hitters Bryson Ruth, Ben Swenk, and Jake Kitcey each had two hits in the game 1 loss. The Paws reversed their fortunes in championship game 2, this time winning 12-8. After Hamburg scored a run in the top of the first, the Bear Paws offense came alive in the bottom of the inning, scoring four. Drew Moser led the inning off with a single and was joined on the base paths by Carter Ramus and Ben Swenk, both of whom walked. With the bases loaded, Jackson Koback delivered a clutch line drive double to score both Moser and Ramus and put the Bear Paws up 2-1. Swenk would score during the next at bat on a wild pitch, and the Paws would add one more run on a Roman Kerkusz sacrifice fly. After a scoreless second inning, Hamburg chipped away in the top of the third, scoring two and narrowing the lead to 4-3. The Paws offense responded with force in the bottom of the inning when Jake Kitcey, Roman Kerkusz, and Jaxon Wolf all safely reached base (single, single, walk) to load the bases with two out. Bryson Ruth put the ball in play, causing an error by the Hamburg third baseman and allowing two runs to score. Drew Moser followed with an RBI single of his own to complete the scoring in the bottom of the third. Hamburg would answer with two runs in the top of the fourth to narrow the lead to 7-5, but the Boyertown offense again responded, this time with a five-run explosion in the bottom of the fourth to put the game out of reach. Roman Kerkusz led the Boyertown offense, going 3-3 with three RBI and two runs scored. On the mound, starter Ben Swenk earned the win, scattering five runs over 5.2 innings while striking out two. Drew Moser entered in relief and pitched 1.1 innings of two-hit ball to secure the championship game victory for the Bear Paws.
Ben Swenk and Roman Kerkusz were red hot at the plate in the tournament, going 11-19 and 9-15, for batting averages of .578 and .600, respectively.