BOYERTOWN -- Spring Grove's American Legion baseball team is a perfect 2-for-2 so far in the Pennsylvania American Legion Baseball Tournament.
The York County team pulled out a second straight one-run victory on Wednesday by employing the same formula it used on the opening day of the event: clutch pitching and just enough hitting.
Spring Grove is one of only two unbeaten teams remaining in the double-elimination tournament following its tension-filled 3-2 victory over Twin Valley.
The York Countians will take on the tournament's other undefeated team, Boyertown, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
"I can't say enough about these guys, they know how to win close games," Spring Grove manager Matt Spangler said. "We don't have a pitcher who throws a 90 (mph) plus (fastball), but they know how to pitch."
Spring Grove used three pitchers, Cody Kauffman, Trevor Troxel and Nick Spangler, in the latest victory.
Kauffman allowed one run, Troxel didn't allow any runs and Spangler yielded one run. Spangler earned his second save in the tournament, but not before having to work his way out of a jam in the ninth inning.
"I was getting a little nervous," he said after Twin Valley, trailing 3-1, loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth. "I was getting pitches up, and I needed to finish a little more."
Twin Valley's Ryan Plank delivered the second run for the Berks County team with a sacrifice fly to right field, but Spangler closed out the game by getting the next hitter on a popup to shortstop Brandon Warner.
"I left a couple of pitches up, but luckily they popped them up," Spangler said.
Along with his pitching, Spangler contributed offensively by collecting two hits in four at bats. He also scored the go-ahead run in the top of the third inning. After the first hitter was retired, Spangler singled to right-center field. Following a strikeout for the second out, Levi Krause delivered a single to left. Spangler, who had earlier stolen second, arrived at home plate around the same time as the ball, but the ball rolled away, and the Spring Grove standout scored to break a 1-1 tie.
"I ran into the catcher twice (in the tournament), but it was not my fault," Spangler said.
Spring Grove pushed its advantage to 3-1 in the fifth inning, and again it was Krause who came though with two outs, beating out an infield single to score Jon Gross from third base. Krause finished with three hits in four at bats and one RBI.
"We took a lot of BP before the game, and I was feeling good in batting practice," he said.
Krause was also involved in an unusual double play which snuffed out a Twin Valley rally.
With the bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning, Twin Valley's Bill Reardon lifted a fly ball to left. Troxel, the left fielder at the time, made the catch and fired the ball to Krause who was playing third base. Krause immediately noticed that the runner on third, who had bluffed going home, hadn't gotten back to the bag.
"I saw him out of the corner of my eye, and I tagged him (to complete the double play)," Krause said.
Spring Grove scored the first run of the game in the second inning when Troxel doubled to the gap in right-center field, took third on Colby Murphy's sacrifice bunt and raced home on an error.
Twin Valley was charged with four errors for the game, and Spring Grove committed two errors. Each team also had two runners picked off base.
"That one (game) wasn't pretty," Matt Spangler said.
Twin Valley outhit Spring Grove, 11-7, but Spring Grove pitchers forced Twin Valley to strand 12 runners.
"Pitching's been the strength of our team all year," Matt Spangler said. "We know teams are going to put the ball in play against us, but we take pride in our defense. Cody Kauffman gave me four innings, Trevor's not 100 percent, and he gave me three, and Nick came in and closed the door. Give their pitcher (Matt McInaw) credit, too. He pitched a heck of a game."
-- Reach Dick VanO linda at dvanolin firstname.lastname@example.org.