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District 1 champion Owen J. Roberts done in by Deschenes, Emmaus in 1-0 defeat

Emmaus senior Luke Deschenes delivers to the plate against Owen J. Roberts during a PIAA 6A first round game Monday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog - MediaNews Group)

BOYERTOWN >> The PIAA tournament is a unique animal. While the single-elimination, winner-take-all format is how tournaments were intended, it’s also notable for the difference in how teams can enter the field.

Some come from places of euphoria, like Owen J. Roberts after winning its first District 1 championship; others from anguish, like Emmaus who lost in the District 11 final to rival Liberty.

After Monday’s PIAA Class 6A first-round meeting between Owen J. Roberts and Emmaus, the Wildcats were left feeling the taste of pain.

Emmaus senior right-hander Luke Deschenes was marvelous and third baseman Tyler LePage’s solo home run was all the Hornets would need in a 1-0 victory at Boyertown’s Bear Stadium that ended Owen J. Roberts’ season.

Deschenes, a Seton Hill commit, allowed seven hits over his complete-game shutout effort while striking out nine and walking one.

“This is what I prepare all year for, winter time, offseason, the fall and early spring leading up to the playoffs,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to win all these games and when I’m able to give my team seven innings, a complete game, not give up any runs I know they appreciate it.”

He improved to 11-1 on the year while getting great glove work from his fielders, who were led Monday by a few quality plays at the hot corner by LePage.

Owen J. Roberts first baseman Tristan Dietrich awaits a throw from catcher on a pickoff attempt against Emmaus during a PIAA 6A first round game Monday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Owen J. Roberts pitcher Jarred Berish delivers to the plate against Emmaus during a PIAA 6A first round game Monday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Deschenes’ dazzling day overshadowed an excellent start from OJR senior Jarred Berish, who allowed five hits and the single run over seven innings. He had one strikeout and one walk.

“You have to give their pitcher credit, he threw a really nice game,” said OJR coach Greg Gilbert. “When you out-hit them, have three or four hard-hit balls where a couple inches one way or another (they get through), it wasn’t our day that way. We tried to get things going late, it just didn’t work out.
“Jarred threw an excellent game on the mound for us, we played really good defense … it wasn’t our day.”

The loss snapped the Wildcats’ 19-game win streak and cut short the season of the Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1 champions. OJR finished the year 22-2.

Catcher Jake Ambrosio was 2-for-3 for OJR.

Owen J. Roberts huddles up after its season-ending loss to Emmaus Monday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Owen J. Roberts’ Kyle O’Connor rips off his batting gloves after the final out of the Wildcats’ 1-0 loss to Emmaus during a PIAA 6A first round game Monday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Emmaus third baseman Tyler LePage is congratulated after his solo home run in the fourth inning against Owen J. Roberts during a PIAA 6A first round game Monday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

OJR’s demise could be chalked up to missed connections: it could never string together the necessary hits or manufacture a run despite threatening in three innings.

“It’s just baseball. They have to come in bunches to score. It was all piece-mealed,” Gilbert said. “We had seven hits but it was all piece meal. We had guys in scoring position and you don’t always get them in. The nice thing about these guys is they always believed until the last strike that they were going to win the game.”

Emmaus got its break through when left-handed hitting LePage led off the fourth inning with a shot over the fence in right field.

Deschenes was dominating until second baseman Ethan Sabatino’s double to right-center in the fourth inning. That led to the first of two occasions where the Wildcats put runners on first and third base, the other in the fifth inning.

But both occasions Deschenes got a comebacker and fielded himself for the inning-ending outs.

“I was able to go to all my pitches. Knowing the situations I needed to use them in, I was able to identify those weaknesses in the hitters and attack them early on,” Deschenes said. “That helped me get early strikes, getting ahead of the batter and beating them.”

OJR’s sixth inning was stifled after Dean Mihos, who hit a leadoff single, was picked off first base by catcher Dominick Chiego (1-for-2, single, walk). It proved to be the last time the Wildcats threatened when Deschenes returned to his best to sit them down 1-2-3 in the seventh.

Emmaus (22-5) didn’t let the hard feelings from being unable to repeat as District 11 champions – a 6-1 defeat to Liberty on June 1 – linger Monday.

“The loss in the district final definitely bothered us,” Deschenes said. “Liberty is a team that we’re not very fond of so we want to go out there and beat them every time we play. Unfortunately things didn’t work out this time.

“Our guys, we’ve put in countless hours of work and a lot of us are very tired. A bunch of players had some mixed feelings after that game but I think we did a very good job regrouping and refocusing to be our strongest in this game.”

The Wildcats didn’t fall victim to getting too high after winning the district title and wasn’t a player in Monday’s result according to Gilbert.

“I don’t think it did with this group,” he said. “This is a different bunch of kids. Would I have said that about some other group? Maybe. But not these kids. They were still really focused and committed to the next goal.”

The senior-heavy Wildcats graduate most of their lineup, including Berish, Kyle O’Connor, Zach Santise, Aaron Kirby, Mihos, Blaine Waltimyer, Sabatino, plus reserves Clay Zachesky, Tommy Lewman, Kyle Islieb, Shay Geib and Alex Lobello.

“The senior group this year is so talented,” Gilbert said. “From the most talented to the kid who just worked extra hard and contributed in a different way, it’s going to be a tough bunch to say goodbye to.”

NOTES >> Emmaus will meet District 2 champion Hazleton, a 1-0 winner over Coatesville, in a quarterfinal on Thursday. … A flawless day defensively had many candidates for ‘play of the day’: the top 2 candidates were center fielder Kirby’s diving catch in center or Mihos’ spinning play up for the middle, both for OJR.


Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Emmaus 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 5 0
Owen J. Roberts 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 0
EMMAUS         OWEN J.        
  ab r h bi   ab r h bi
Gallagher 3 0 1 0 O’Connor 3 0 1 0
McElroy 3 0 0 0 Kirby 3 0 0 0
LePage 3 1 1 1 Mihos 3 0 1 0
Chiego 2 0 1 0 Sabatino 3 0 1 0
Viola 3 0 1 0 Waltimyer 2 0 1 0
Williams 3 0 1 0 Brockner 3 0 0 0
Deschenes 2 0 0 0 Dietrich 3 0 1 0
Merk 1 0 0 0 Santise 3 0 0 0
Foley 3 0 0 0 Ambrosio 3 0 2 0
Hogan 3 0 0 0          
Totals 26 1 5 1 Totals 26 0 7 0

2B: Sabatino; HR: LePage.

Deschenes (W) 7 7 0 0 1 9
Owen J. Roberts
Berish (L) 7 5 1 1 1 1

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