Phoenixville awakens late, wins district title

Posted: May 31, 2012

Maybe it was the sixth-inning ejection of coach Jack Sturgeon that put a much-needed fire into Phoenixville's belly.

With Sturgeon watching from the parking lot, the Phantoms totaled seven runs in their last two at-bats and stunned Upper Moreland, 8-7, Wednesday in the PIAA District 1 Class AAA baseball final at Temple University's Ambler campus.

Sturgeon's squad scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to capture the program's first district title since it won at the Class AA level in 2004.

"This is the most amazing thing I've ever been a part of," said senior catcher Jack Ashburn, grandson of former Phillies great Richie Ashburn. "That was incredible."

The decisive run came on pinch-hitter Tom Kawchak's two-out single to left field. It was the sophomore's first varsity plate appearance.

"It was kind of a tense situation," the lefthanded hitter said. "I just tried to relax and put the ball in play."

Phoenixville drew three consecutive walks to set up the heroics of Kawchak, Shane Allen, and Cole Luzins.

Allen, who earned the win in relief of Colin Ammon, ripped a two-run double down the third-base line to make it 7-5. With two outs, Luzins evened things with an RBI double to center.

"To be honest with you, I didn't think I could do it," said Luzins, a sophomore third baseman who jumped on a 2-1 fastball. "In a pressure situation like that, I just did the best I could."

Sturgeon was tossed for arguing with the plate umpire over a balk call that gave the Golden Bears a 7-3 advantage.

"From the parking lot, I was able to see a little bit here and there," he said.

Dan Huston, the top varsity assistant, took over. He gets the credit for calling on Kawchak, a catcher at the JV level, to pinch-hit for leftfielder Shae Ferguson.

On Monday, in the opening round of the state tournament, the Phantoms (16-8) will face Blue Mountain, District 11's titlist, at a site and time to be determined.

Finding the gaps in the outfield, Upper Moreland seized a 4-0 advantage in the first inning. Rob Knox (triple to deep center), Matt Kohn (double to right-center), Sean Valenza (single to right), and Ryan Snyder (RBI single) provided a 4-for-4 start.

The Phantoms cut the gap to 7-3 in the sixth. Chris Demey lifted a sacrifice fly to right to drive home Ammon (leadoff walk), and Luzins plated Ryan Yenchick (bunt single) with an infield hit.

After a five-hit first inning, the Golden Bears (15-7) were held to three singles the rest of the way.

Upper Moreland   4001110 - 781

Phoenixville   0100025 - 891

WP: Shane Allen. LP: Charlie Hooker. 2B UM-Kyle Walder, Matt Kohn; P-Allen, Cole Luzins. 3B: UM-Rob Knox.


Contact Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019, robrien@phillynews.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone

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