Conestoga clinches Central League title

TREDYFFRIN — When a team loses 18 seniors to graduation, it is hard to win a championship despite the success of the program.

Conestoga’s success over the past few years continued Monday afternoon on their home field. The Pioneers defeated Upper Darby, 8-1, to claim the first outright Central League title for the school since 2008.

Brendon Little pitched into the fifth inning, allowing the Royals (6-9 Central, 6-9 overall) just one run in his four plus innings of work. But when Matt Tirday singled home Chris Anderson to give Conestoga a 2-1 lead, head coach John Vogan went to Tim Miller to put out the flame.

The move worked perfectly as Miller got the next two outs and went on for a the save after the Pioneers (12-4 Central, 14-6 overall) scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“I love coming into situations like that when it is a close game,’ Miller said. “That is why you play the game to be in 2-1 games, not just 8-0 games. to win this Central League is an amazing feeling because so many good players and teams have come through here. But, this banner will be up in the gym forever.’

Conestoga jumped on Upper Darby starter Jim Hopkins for two runs in the first inning on RBI triples from Ryne Ogren and Tom Fogarty. It looked like the rout would be on, but Hopkins got tough with the Conestoga lineup and did not allow a run for the next three innings. Meanwhile, Little was having some control problems as he walked five men, but struck out eight and led the game ahead 2-1 in the fifth.

Upper Darby stranded men on base in every inning against Little, but he got the big out when he needed it.

In the bottom of the fifth, Conestoga exploded for a very big inning. The Pioneers sent nine men to the plate and got things started in a very unconventional way against Hopkins. The first two batters reached base via a hit by pitch. That was all for Hopkins and the Royals brought in Nolan Ward to put out the fire.

Ward promptly hit Miller to load the bases and then Ogren hit a fly ball to short left, scoring Matt Heron to give the Pioneers a 3-1 lead. Ward then plunked Len Watson to reload the bases with one out and Tom Fogarty roped a long two-run double to left field to makee it a 5-1 game.

Conestoga was not done as Luke Czeipel banged a two-run triple to right field to put the game away.

“We had sort of a team meeting in the dugout after the top of the fifth,’ Ogren said. “We needed some hits to win this championship and we put some good at bats together and got it done. To win the league was one of our first goals this season and it is great to do that.’

Miller reared back and put the Royals down in the sixth and seventh innings without a threat. With the Central League title locked up, the Pioneers will enter next week’s District 1 Class AAAA playoffs.

“I have been blessed to have many great players and great teams,’ Conestoga coach John Vogan said. “But, this team is one where no one expected us to do this and it is a tribute to the senior leadership to show the younger guys the work ethic. Tim Miller, Brendon Ltitle and Ryne Ogren, and all the seniors, all eight of them have led the way and been a true team pulling for each other all season.’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply