Berkshire Red Sox Optimist Team
|Established in 1989, the Berkshire Red Sox are the only remaining team from the original Spring-Lawn Optimist Baseball League. With the merger of the Spring-Lawn Optimist League and the Lebanon-Lancaster Twi-Light League in 2002, the 10-team Quad-County Optimist League has proved to be one of the toughest adult leagues in the state.|
The Sox have been a perennial contender in the league since it's inception in 1989.
|The Berkshire Red Sox became the first ever Regular Season Champion of the Spring-Lawn Optimist Baseball League by recording an impressive 18-3 regular season record.
Unfortetly, the Sox success ended in disappointing fashion when they lost in the League Championship Series 3-games-to-2 to Special-T Design.
The also had to settle for being the bridesmaids in the first ever Rawlings Berkshire Showdown.
Mike Stern and Mike Hart each earned individual honors as they brought home the first ever Spring-Lawn Optimist League MVP and Outstanding Pitcher Awards respectfully.
|After cutting through the league like a hot knife through butter, the Berkshire Red Sox had a rude awakining in 1991.
The league expanded to seven teams and the Red Sox were left on the outside looking in come play-off time with a disappointing 11-19 league finish.
The team did have a few season highlights that included Dave Mentzer throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history and the second in league history when he shut down Clover Park on June 18, 1991. Mentzer also set the league single-game strike-out record on opening day 1991, when he fanned 14 Penn Square Rotisserie batters, Mentzer's record lasted all of about 30 minutes as former Major League pitcher, Jay Baller, who was pitching for Clover Park fanned 17 West Lawn Owls hitters moments later.
Another highlight for the 1991 season was a young rookie for the Red Sox named Erron Archie who finished the season second in batting with a .438 average and led the league in home runs with four.
|The Sox rebounded from their first losing season under the guidence of new skipper Del Mintz to finish 34-27-1 overall and earn a trip back to the Spring-Lawn Optimist League play-offs.
The Sox stay in the play-offs was short as they were swept by the Regular Season champion, Kutztown Wildcats 2-games-to-0 in the semi-finals.
The Sox season ended for good with a 3-1 loss to the Fairmount Park Mustangs in the second annual Pennsylvania Adult State Tournament.
Former Philadelphia Phillies AA pitcher, Rick Dunnum who made his Sox deput in 1992 won the league Outstanding Pitcher Award while leading the league in wins (7), strike-outs (88) and second in ERA (1.30).
|The Sox picked up their second Regular Season Championship in 1993, but had to again settle for second place in the play-offs with a heart-breaking 3-games-to-2 Championship Series defeat to the RISCO Scrappers.
The Red Sox did bring home their first tournament championship when they traveled to Berwick to take home the Tri-County Invitational title in exciting fashion.
The Sox came from behind to win every game they played in the tournament with the exception of their 7-4 semi-final victory over Unionville.
Red Sox hurler, Rick Dunnum put on a performance that wouldn't soon be forgotten as he tossed back-to-back complete game victories for the Sox in the semi-final win over Unionville and in the Sox final come from behind victory of the tournament, a 5-4 win over tournament favorite State College.
That feat earned Dunnum co-MVP honors for the tournament along with teammate Erron Archie.
|After coming so close to winning the league championship the year before and in spite of finishing twelve games above .500 overall, the Red Sox missed qualifying for the league play-offs for the second time in franchise history.
The Sox who were 13-13-1 with three league games remaining, needed to win only one of the three to qualify for the play-offs. After a road loss to Hamburg dropped them to 13-14-1, they still needed just a split in a rain make-up twi-night double-header at home versus Hamburg again and Pottstown in the nightcap. After gutty pitching performances by both Jeff Detwiler and Randy Strauser, the Sox bats never showed up that night and they lost both games by identical 2-1 scores and finished 13-16-1 in league play.
A few Sox did get the highlight of their amateur baseball careers when Kevin Kantner and Stephen Sauer were selected to represent the Red Sox and the Spring-Lawn Optimist League at Municipal Stadium in a game that pitted All-Stars from the Spring-Lawn Optimist League and West Chester Adult League against the Colorado Silver Bullets, an all womens professional baseball team that was coached by former big leaguers Phil & Joe Niekro and sponsored by Coors Brewing Company.
Berkshire's Dan Clouser, who was president of the Spring-Lawn Optimist League at the time managed the team to a 4-0 victory in front of a crowd of 5,619. The game was also televised and broadcast on the radio. Media coverage spread from Harrisburg to Philadelphia and all points in between.
Kantner is also pictured in a nationally published book titled "For the Love of the Game, the Story of the Colorado Silver Bullets."
|The Red Sox made it back into the play-offs during Dan Clouser's first season at the helm since 1990 by going 18-13 in the league and finishing second in the Southern Division.
The Sox opened up the play-offs against defending league champion, RISCO, the Northern Division Champ and were swept two-games-to-none in the first round.
|The Red Sox got off to their league start in history by busting out of the gate to a 10-1 record. The dog days of summer quickly took their toll on the Sox as they floundered down the stretch by going 9-10 in their last 19 league games to finish at 19-11 and qualify for the play-offs as the #4 seed.
The Sox faced their rival the RISCO Scrappers in the first round and became the first #4 seed to advance to the Championship Series when they eliminated RISCO 2-games-to-1.
In their third trip to the Championship Series in franchise history, the Sox again came up empty and were swept 3-games-to-none in the Series.
|In Ed Riedel's first year at the helm, he led the Sox to their Regular Season Championship by finishing 19-5 in league play.
After a 3-0 sweep of Bern Township in the play-off semi-finals, the Sox Championship Series woes continued.
The Sox fell to a Clover Park squad that had finished 13-10-1 in the regular season 3-games-to-1 in the Championship Series.
|The Red Sox made their third straight trip to the League Championship Series, only to be turned away once again.
After defeating Clover Park 3-games-to-2 in the semi-finals, the Red Sox fell to the Hamburg Reds in the Championship Series 3-games-to-1.
|The Sox finally got the monkey off their back in 1999. Making their fourth straight trip to the League Championship Series and their sixth in franchise history, manager Ed Riedel finally led the Red Sox to the promised land.
By the middle of the season, many of the Red Sox faithful had figured that the Sox run of championship series appearances was coming to an end. After several of the Sox veteran players retired after the 1998 season, some figured 1999 would be a year of rebuilding.
Although the Red Sox had picked up several very talented rookies in the likes of Frank Anderson, Casey Long and Toby Ranck, they found themselves five games below .500 in the middle of June with no signs of relief in sight.
The the youngsters started to click and they made a run in the second half of the season.
After a hard fought semi-final series against Memory 21, which the Sox edged 3-games-to-2, the Red Sox were primed to face long time rival Clover Park in the Championship Series.
The young Sox made a statement by sweeping Clover Park 3-games-to-none to bring home their first ever League Championship.
|2000 marked the first time since 1995 that the Red Sox did advance to the Spring-Lawn Optimist League Championship Series.
Several veteran Sox decided to retire after they won the championship in 1999 and that left the Sox scrambling for answers.
They finished in third place in the league with a record of 14-14-2, only to be eliminated by Clover Park in the first round of the play-offs 3-games-to-1.
|The Sox struggled during the 2001 season largley due to a revolving line-up that kept first year manager Kevin Kantner scrambling for the majority of the season.
Even with a disappointing 9-16-2 league record, it was good enough to get the Sox back into the play-offs.
In the play-offs, they almost pulled off the unthinkable when they backed the Hamburg Reds into a corner by taking a 2-games-to-1 lead in the best-of-five semi-final series.
The Reds fought back though and came back to take the series 3-games-to-2 and eventually won the League Championship.
|Dan Clouser once again found himself at the helm of the Berkshire Red Sox Adult team for the 2002 season.
This year however, the Red Sox were no longer part of the Spring-Lawn Optimist Baseball League. The Spring-Lawn Optimist League had merged with the Lebanon-Lancaster Twi-Light League to form what is now known as the Quad County Optimist League.
The new league had 10 teams in four (Berks, Mongomery, Lancaster & Lebanon) Counties for the 2002 season.
The 2002 edition of the Red Sox were a very talented group of players but they seemed to somewhat under achieve.
With an awesome pitching staff that included Nick Evangelista, Danny Runkel, Kevin Walbert and Shawn Seidel, the Sox were very tough to score against. Unfortunetly, the Sox pitching staff got very little run support and therefore found themselves on the losing end of way too many 2-1 games.
The Red Sox played just well enough to get into the play-offs with a 11-14 league record and defeated Memory 21 2-games-to-1 in a Quarter-Final series that was highlighted by Berkshire's Nick Evangelista tossing a 6-0 no-hitter in game one to become the first pitcher in Quad County Optimist League history to throw a no-hitter in the post-season.
The Sox then lost a heart-wrenching semi-final series to Clover Park 2-games-to-1. Both Berkshire losses in games one and three were by one run in extra innings.
|After a disappointing season in 2002, the 2003 edition of the Berkshire Red Sox was bound and determined to make their mark on the Quad County Optimist League.
Some solid off-season recruiting that brought rookies Scott Bond, Kyle Stover, Zac Schneider, Jeremy Kondisko, Nate Ottaviani and Zach Groh to the team proved to be just what the Sox needed to get them to the top.
The Sox bolstered the leagues best pitching staff that included starters Zach Groh, Dan Runkel, Kevin Walbert and lefty Jeremy Kondisko. Charlie Werner and Nate Ottaviani pitched in from the bullpen in long relief situations whiched help make way for set-up man Jim Everhart and closer Nick Evangelista who recorded a league record nine saves.
That pitching staff coupled with some solid defense that was anchored up the middle by shortstop Dave Morris and second baseman Terry Snyder and having Scott Bond run down sure doubles in centerfield made scoring off the Sox a tough task in 2003.
After going 21-9-2 (.680) in regular season league play, the Sox finished second to Smitty's Cardinals, but earned a first-round play-off bye.
The Sox faced Jonestown in the semi-finals and swept the defending league champions in the best-of-three game series by scores of 3-2 and 4-3. The latter victory came with the Sox trailing 3-1 going into the top of the seventh and rallying to score three runs for the win.
In the Championsship Series vs. regular season champion Smitty's, the Sox pitching staff did the job again.
In game 1, Dan Runkel threw five solid innings allowing one run before late season legion add-on Jason Ziegler came in to throw the final two innings to shut down the Cardinals and earn the save in a 3-1 victory.
In game two, Zach Groh was all the Sox needed as he tossed a complete game 4-0 shut-out that gave the Sox a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Championship Series.
The Sox couldn't get the sweep as the series moved back to Reading's George Field and Smitty's tagged Sox starter Shawn Seidel for six runs in 3-2/3 innings enroute to an 8-6 win over Berkshire and closing the gap in the series to two games to one.
Rain post-poned game four for a day before Berkshire's Nick Evangelista and Smitty's Matt Wagner faced off in what everyone knew would be a pitchers duel.
The Red Sox ended up defeating Smitty's 3-2 in game four of the Quad County Optimist League Championship Series on August 6, 2003 to gain a 3 games to 1 series victory and their first league title since 1999.
Clinging to a 2-1 lead going into the top of the seventh, Smitty's loaded the bases on Berkshire starter Nick Evangelista (6-2/3 innings, 10 K) with two outs.
Reliever Matt Keller, another late season legion add-on got Smitty's lead-off man, J.D. Stern to hit a hard grounder to 1st that Berkshire first baseman Robert Ash bobbled allowing the tieing run to score.
Keller then got Kevin Kirchoff to ground out to Dave Morris at short, who stepped on second to get the force on Stern and finally end the inning.
Jason Ziegler was hit by the first pitch of the inning from Smittys' Matt Wagner. Wagner then struck-out Ash before yielding a single to Terry Snyder. Zac Schneider entered the game to pinch run for Ziegler at second. Dave Morris dropped a bloop single into shallow right field to load the bases for the Sox.
After working the count to 3-2, Berkshire centerfielder, Scott Bond drilled a single to center scoring Schneider and giving the Red Sox (39-17-4 overall) their second title in the franchises 14 year history.
The Sox also finished the season ranked third in the final Pennsylvania Semi-Pro Wood Bat Coaches Poll and 4th in the final Mid-Atlantic Regional Wood Bat Coaches Poll.
|At the start of the season, the 2004 edition of the Berkshire Red Sox Quad County team looked to be possibly the most talented team in franchise history.
Unfortunately, a pitching staff that originally bolstered Nick Evangelista, Zach Groh, Kyle Sadlowski, Matt Keller, Justin Hanley, Matt Burkhart, Kevin Walbert and Dan Runkel took on a new look when Keller decided to play in the Valley League in Virginia, Sadlowski was sidelined by tendentious in his right shoulder and didn't pitch an inning, Evangelista was drafted in the 26th round by the Phillies making only one appearance between the Big East Tournament and the Major League draft and Runkel never completed the season.
However, even with the pitching staff taking major hits, this group was resilient and battled day in and day out to defend their title.
The Sox finished second in the regular season to Smitty's and faced rival Memory 21 in the best-of-five semi-final series.
After winning game one 2-1, the Sox dropped games two and three by scores of 3-0 and 4-1 respectively. As the Sox starred elimination in the face, Robert Ash pitched the first six innings and scheduled game 5 starter Kevin Walbert came in relief to pitch the final four innings of a 10-inning marathon game that the Sox won 5-4 to force the series deciding game five.
The Sox sent grizzled veteran Shawn Seidel to the hill in game five and Seidel battled for the better part of four innings before giving way to the Sox bullpen.
Trailing 6-4 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, it looked as though this night belonged to former Red Sox 18-U pitcher Zach Lutz and Memory 21. Leon Adams sparked the Sox with a lead-off single and then stole second, the Sox followed Adams' lead with an ensuing three-run rally that gave them a 7-6 victory and quieted their mouthy opponents for at least another winter.
The Sox seemed to have used all their magic in that semi-final series as they were swept by a better Smitty's Cardinals team three games to none in a rematch of the 2003 LCS.
|There were a lot of questions for the Berkshire Red Sox going into the 2005 season.
The losses of several key pitchers, that included staff ace and 2003 and 2004 co-outstanding pitcher award winner Zach Groh and key left-handers Justin Hanley and Robert Ash along with the fact that co-outstanding pitcher from the 2004 season, Matt Burkhart didn’t pitch an inning for DeSales in the Spring left a huge question mark in the Sox 2005 pitching staff.
Rookies Kevin Morganti, Hector Rodriguez and Phil Rummel were looking to fill some very important voids in that pitching staff.
Joining veteran righty Kevin Walbert in the rotation, Rodriguez and Morganti contributed early and Burkhart returned to form sooner rather than later to solidify a very strong staff in 2005.
The key to this season, however, was what manager Dan Clouser referred to as the “best bullpen in the league”.
The pen, which was made up of middle relievers, Jim Everhart, Matt Zaorski and Nick Zerbe often paved the way for closer Phil Rummel and his 88 mph fastball.
“The key to their (the middle relievers) success was their team attitude. They were certainly the unsung heroes of this club. They would go out there night after night and pitch for an inning or a batter or however long we needed them to go and they just went out and did there job. They knew that the next day in the paper, the line score would read that Walbert or one of the other starters got the win and that Rummel got the save and no one from the outside would ever even know that they had gotten into the game, but that didn’t matter to them, they knew and their teammates knew how important they were to this teams success.”
“They just wanted to whatever they could to help us win”
The bullpen did just that, leading the Sox to victory on several occasions, when their opponent had a tiring starter on the mound and the Sox bullpen was just getting started on working their magic.
“If it was close in the fifth, I knew we were going to pull it off” Clouser added.
The Sox finished with a league record of 19-9 and won the Eastern Division crown, which earned them a first round bye in the play-offs.
In the Semi-Finals, the Red Sox faced the Lititz Pirates.
After hammering the Pirates in game one 9-4, the Sox dropped the next two games 7-1 and 3-2 respectively and faced elimination.
Resilient as ever, the Sox battled back and won game four 8-5 and after getting down 4-0 after two innings in the series deciding fifth game, the Sox again battled back in dramatic fashion and cut the lead to 4-3 in the fourth before going up to stay with another three runs in the sixth to make it a 6-4 final and clinching their third straight League Championship Series against Smitty’s Cardinals.
It was once again the Sox bullpen, who logged 14 innings of work in the series to keep their opponents off balance and their team in the games.
In 2003, the Sox brought home the title by knocking off the Cards 3-games-to-1, last year the Cards got revenge by sweeping the Sox 3-games-to-none.
The two teams split their four games in 2005, so who knew what would be in store for the LCS.
However, with Lititz taking the Sox to five games in the semi-finals and the Cards sweeping Memory 21 in their semi-final series, Berkshire was playing their sixth game in as many days and Smitty’s was fresh off a two day rest. Most around the league figured Smitty’s would have an edge because of the taxing that was put on the Sox pitching staff in the semi-finals.
However, entering the bottom of the seventh inning in game one of the Quad County Optimist League Championship Series, the Berkshire Red Sox looked to be in complete control and ready to stun the defending champs.
They had shocked the Smitty’s Cardinals by tagging their staff ace, Matt Wagner for four runs and things didn’t look good for the Cardinals who were sending their 7, 8 and 9 hitters to the plate in the seventh to face Berkshire ace, Phil Rummel, trailing 4-0.
Clouser was hoping to give the bullpen a much needed day off and a complete game from Rummel would go a long way in keeping the pen fresh. Unfortunately, three singles later, Smitty’s had the bases loaded, Rummel was out of the game and the Cardinals were beginning to mount a comeback.
Lefty Nate Reed came into to face left-handed sticks, J.D. Stern and Kevin Kirchoff, both hitters battled Reed to full counts and ultimately, they each drew RBI walks to cut the Sox lead to 4-2.
Danny Morris then took the mound for the Sox to the heart of the Smitty’s order. Morris got the speedy Josh Butler to hit into a 6-4 fielders choice, but Butler beat the throw on the attempted double-play and the Cardinals were now within a run at 4-3.
The Sox intentionally walked the Cardinals number four hitter, Brandon Hostetter to load the bases again and keep the double play in tact.
A passed ball allowed the tying run to score and one batter later the winning run scored for the Cardinals when a ground ball up the middle bounced off Dave Morris and into Leon Adams’ hands , Adams made a throw to first that was late and the Sox were left shocked and demoralized.
All Sox Manager, Dan Clouser could say after the game was, “That was one of the toughest losses I’ve ever experienced.”
The Sox never recovered from that devastating loss in game one and in spite of leading game two 3-2 at one point, the Sox lost that game 9-3 and the Cards completed their second straight LCS sweep of the Red Sox with a decisive 12-6 victory in game three.
“No matter what, this group of guys was great this year, they have nothing to be ashamed of,” said Clouser.
Looking ahead to 2006, the Sox will work to reload in the off-season and attempt to bring back the league title again.
|In mid-June, it looked as though the Berkshire Red Sox Quad County teams’ run of three straight trips to the championship series was in serious jeopardy.
The club was 3-5 in league play, 22-19 overall and had just dropped three games in a row in their own Rawlings Berkshire Showdown tournament, which they were looking to defend the title to.
Their pitching staff and defense, which were supposed to be their strong suits had just given up 44 runs in their last six games and things looked pretty bleak.
The team called a players only meeting and to a man determined that they would turn the season around.
They went 17-1-1 in their final 19 league games and finished one point behind the Lititz Pirates for the regular season title.
The second place finished earned them a bye in the first round of the play-offs, where they faced a familiar foe, Smitty’s Cardinals, in very unfamiliar setting.
The Sox and Cardinals had met in the League Championship Series in the previous three seasons. 2003 went to Berkshire and the Cardinals had swept the Sox in both 2004 and 2005, 3-games-to-none.
It looked to be the same old post-season story when the Sox and Cardinals met up in the best-of-five game semi-final series when the Cards jumped out to a commanding 2-games-to-0 lead with a 5-0 win in game one and an 8-4 victory in game two.
Heading to Lancaster for games three and hopefully four against a team that had owned the Sox in their last eight post-season meetings didn’t leave too many people believing that the series would return to George Field on Saturday night.
Game three didn’t show much promise when the Cardinals jumped on Sox lefty, Joe Harris for four two-out runs in the bottom of the first inning.
The Sox answered back with three runs in the top of the second and battled back and forth with the Cards all night before walking away with an 8-6 win and earning the chance to play another day.
On Friday night, the Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning and then were shut down by Cardinals hurler, Dan Myers as he retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced from the second to the fifth inning.
Smitty’s scored a run in the fifth to make it 3-1 and then tied the game in the bottom of the sixth at 3-3.
The Sox got the lead-off man on in the top of the seventh and then bunted into a double-play to kill a would be rally.
Nate Reed, the Sox game one starter entered the game to pitch in the bottom of the seventh.
Reed started the inning by walking Carlos Diaz who was then bunted over to second. The Sox intentionally walked clean-up hitter Drew Pare to set up the force.
Reed struck out Ryan Sutter for the second out of the inning. The Sox then intentionally walked Brandon Hostetter to face Sean Killian. Killian worked the count full before hitting a rocket up the middle that ricocheted off of Reed’s thigh and into Kyle Stover’s glove at third, who threw Killian out at first for the final out of the inning, sending the game into extra frames.
Stover then led off the eighth with a single, the Sox failed to bunt him over with no outs, but he advanced to second on Pete Jordan’s walk and scored on Chad Denunzio’s single to give the Sox a 4-3 lead.
Reed took the hill again in the eighth inning. He walked the lead-off man and then got a double play ball before striking out Jose Ochoa to end the game and send the series back to Reading tied at two games each.
The Sox sent Jeremy Hess to the mound in game five. Hess was pitching with a heavy heart that night as he had learned earlier in the day that one of his good friends was killed in a car accident the night before.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning and Andrew Pry was tossing a no-hitter going into the bottom of the fifth for Smitty’s.
Denunzio led off the fifth with a single to break up the no-no and the Sox exploded for five runs to go up 5-2.
Hess shut down the Cards with a 1-2-3 sixth and looked like a man on mission.
He got Brett Rhoads to line-out to start the seventh, then walked Dan Myers and hit Brandon Hostetter with an 0-2 pitch to put runners on first and second with one out.
Pare struck-out for the second out of the inning and Ryan Sutter hit a bleeder to load the bases for Carlos Diaz.
Diaz worked a 2-2 count before flying out to Aaron Bertoldi in left field to end the game and seal an improbable come back.
Clouser and Hess hugged during the celebration and Hess simply said, “He was out there with me tonight DC, he carried me.”
There was no rest for the weary as the Sox opened up the Quad County Optimist League Championship Series with the Lititz Pirates the very next night at Stumpf Field in Lancaster.
The Sox sent Kevin Walbert to the mound, who had not pitched for the majority of the season due to an arm injury.
Walbert battled all night, but the Sox offense could only muster a single run in the first inning and dropped the series opener 6-1 to fall behind in the best-of-five gane series 1 game to none.
The next night, the Sox offense seemed to be a bit more rejuvenated. Even with Lititz sending their ace, Mark Brown to the mound, the Sox scored two runs in the first inning and another four in the third inning off of a Chad Denunzio (2-for-2, 5 RBI) grand slam to take a 6-0 lead.
Brown completed the inning and made way for Matt Gale, Aaron Bertoldi quickly greeted Gale with an inside the park home run in the fourth and the Sox added another four runs in the fifth inning to go up 11-0.
Lititz spoiled Kevin Lengyel’s shut-out with a run in the bottom of the seventh, but the Sox knotted the series at a game a piece heading home to George Field for games three and four.
Lefty Joe Harris took the hill for the Sox and struggled a bit early again, yielding three runs in the first two innings.
The Sox offense looked sluggish as Bobby Thompson baffled them for four innings, yielding only two hits. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Thompson began to tire and the Sox strung together four singles, but could only plate one run to close the gap to 3-1.
Harris stayed in his groove, by tossing another shut-out inning in the sixth and keeping the Pirates lead at 3-1.
With a full moon rising up over the Pagoda in the distance at George field, Lititz brought in closer Jarred Ellis (1-0, 3 saves, 1.29 ERA), who had been lights out all season long to face the heart of the Berkshire order.
Ellis had some uncharacteristic control problems as Pete Jordan and Chad Denunzio each led off the inning with walks. That made way for Zac Schneider, who sacrificed both into scoring position and Rob Lozenski’s (2-for-2, 2 RBI) single tied the game at three.
The Sox couldn’t take the lead and hoped Harris could continue to cruise and keep the game tied.
Lititz had a different idea and scored a run in the top of the seventh to take a 4-3 lead.
With Ellis still on the mound for Lititz, Berkshire’s Kyle Stover led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk and Leon Adams reached on an error to put runners on second and third with no outs and Berkshire’s clean-up hitter, Pete Jordan coming to the plate.
Jordan battled Ellis before finally striking-out on an eight pitch at-bat. Lititz then intentionally walked Chad Denunzio to load the bases.
Zac Schneider struck-out for the second out of the inning, making pinch-hitter Kevin Lengyel the final hope for the Red Sox.
Lengyel fell behind in the count 1-2 before hitting a single between second and third that scored both Stover and Adams to win the game and take a 2-games-to-1 series lead.
The Sox who had been using the championship season of 2003 as their rally cry since falling behind 2-games-to-none in the semi-finals against Smitty’s had become quite superstitious during their play-off run. They felt that August 9, 2006 would bring the same magic to them as August 6, 2003 had.
August 6, 2003 was the date of game 4 of the 2003 Quad County LCS, a game that was also played on a Wednesday night a George Field.
The night in 2003, the Red Sox had worn their pinstripe pants and blue jersey’s, they would do the same on this night. That night in 2003, the Sox sent Nick Evangelista, who was then attending the University of Pittsburgh and is now in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system, to the mound. This night they would send Nate Reed, who is now attending the University of Pittsburgh and was being courted by the Philadelphia Phillies earlier in the summer, to the mound.
The baseball gods were smiling and everything seemed to be right as the Sox were determined to not go back to Lancaster for game five.
The Sox scored two runs in the bottom of the first to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
Reed struggled early, throwing 40 pitches in the first two innings but in spite of sending 10 hitters to the plate, the Pirates could only scratch out one run.
The Sox added three runs in the third inning and another two in the fourth to take a commanding 7-1 lead.
Reed (6 IP, 1 H, 10 K, 4 BB) had settled in, retiring 12 of the next thirteen batters that he faced from the third to the sixth inning.
Matt Zaorski, Nick Zerbe and Kevin Morganti combined to throw a scoreless seventh inning and secure the Berkshire Red Sox third title in franchise history and their first since 2003.
An incredible three day celebration was kicked off that night, which included fireworks in the outfield and champagne in the locker room.
The Sox were bridesmaids no more, they rode on the shoulders of their grizzled veteran, Chad Denunzio (8-for-20, 2 HR, 12 RBI in the play-offs) who told the guys that he wanted to go out as a champion. Although after his post-season performance, he may not retiring after all.
“2003 was great, it was the first league championship team that I had ever managed, so that’s always going to be a special group.” Said Dan Clouser, Sox manager.
“But, these guys, well, they were something else, I mean we were 3-5 in the league at one point, we were down two games-to-none to Smitty’s and the core of these kids were on the teams that came up short the past two seasons. That really shows some resilience, the rookies rose to the occasion and the veterans led the way, as far as chemistry goes, this group had something special. I think we’re all going to remember this season for a long time to come.”
The 2006 Red Sox made history, winning the title and finishing 46-25-1 overall. The 2007 Sox are hoping to do the same by being the first squad in the franchises history to repeat.
|2007||59-23-1||Dan Clouser View 2007 Team Archive|
|When the 2007 season started, the Berkshire Red Sox Quad-County team had a target on their back.
Making four straight trips to the League Championship Series and bringing home the titles in both 2003 and 2006, the Sox would have to play some good baseball in 2007 to maintain that “Tradition of Excellence”.
Could five straight LCS appearances really be accomplished? The Red Sox had made four straight LCS appearances from 1996-1999 winning their first ever title in 1999 under the guidance of then Sox skipper Ed Reidel, who took over for Dan Clouser in 1997.
Five straight though, that would be unheard of.
The season started with a solid core of returning players and the Red Sox had also added some new faces.
Rookies, Shane Stein, Nate Weiss, Gerry Werner, Eric Hetrich and Carlos Benitez were all looking to help the Sox stay on top.
Josh McDevitt, who was a legion double-roster player was hoping to pitch in on legion off days.
The free agent signing of Dan Myers looked to add some versatility and veteran leadership to the squad.
Early season loses of pitchers, Kevin Lengyel and Kevin Walbert as well as another season ending concussion for John Pisker left some holes to fill for the Red Sox.
The Sox opened their season with a decisive 8-1 road victory over the Lititz Pirates in a rematch of the 2006 LCS and looked to be running on all cylinders to start.
As good as the Sox looked in their league opener, they looked bad in their next game as they dropped a 4-3 loss to the SWS Nationals in the final inning.
For the better part of the season, that was the story of these Red Sox, one night they would look unstoppable and the next night they would show up with nine guys and look mediocre at best.
The roster continued to take some hits as the season went on, Cuban defector, Carlos Benitez decided to give up baseball after he was passed up in the Major League draft, catcher Adam Frederick changed jobs and was relegated to weekend only duty, rookie pitcher Eric Hetrich decided to concentrate on his football career midway through the season, Nick Zerbe’s internship eliminated him from the pitching rotation by mid-June, Leon Adams missed several weeks with kidney stones and Coaching, work and school conflicts limited the duties of Rob Lozenski, Chad Denunzio, Dan Myers and Kyle Stover.
The obstacles kept popping up and the Sox kept trying to overcome them.
By mid-June, just after the Sox captured their second Rawlings Berkshire Showdown tile in the past three years, the Sox were staring at a crucial week in the season where they wouldn’t have a catcher.
Enter, Stephen “Crash Davis” Croft who hadn’t been on a Red Sox active roster since the 2002 season.
A four year lay-off, marriage, starting a photography business and two kids later, Croft was behind the dish against the Smitty’s Cardinals.
He proved to be a vital part in the clubs run down the stretch.
The rollercoaster ride continued all summer long, the Sox would reach one milestone, such as achieving another 40 win season as early as June 30, recording Dan Clouser’s 500th career coaching victory on July 12 at Ephrata and setting a single season win mark with their 49th win of the season on July 17th and follow-up a big win with a crucial loss.
As the Red Sox continued their late summer stretch, more bumps in the road had to be overcome.
By early July, another blow to the pitching would have to be overcome when Kevin Morganti went down with a season ending arm injury.
Parity in the Quad-County Optimist League kept the Sox in the middle of the pack, but even with all of the set-backs that 2007 brought, the Sox found themselves within striking distance of the Regular Season title with four games to play in the final three days of their season.
A twi-night double-header sweep of Memory 21 on July 17, left the Red Sox needing to win one of their next two games to capture the regular season title.
The following night, the Sox lost to the Ephrata Blue Coats 3-2 with Nate Reed on the hill, but still just needed to knock off their brother squad in their season finale the next night to capture the Regular Season title.
The Blue Sox would have to beat the Red Sox and Lititz the following Monday in order for them to take the title and they did just that as they thumped the Red Sox 5-1 and then went on to beat Lititz 2-1 to win the title.
In the next five days that the Red Sox were idle as the rest of the league finished up their season, the Sox slowly dropped from the #2 seed to the #4 seed in the play-offs as everyone who they needed to lose - won.
Losing the final two games of their season wasn’t exactly the high note that the Sox wanted heading into the post-season.
However, even with the late season collapse, these Red Sox has a bit of resolve heading into the post-season knowing that if they got hot, they could beat anyone.
In the Quarter-Final opener, Nate Reed set the tone by tossing a no-hitter in a 3-1 series opening win against Ephrata.
It took two days for the Red Sox to beat the Blue Coats in game 2 and complete the sweep as rain suspended the contest and forced the teams to come back the next night as the Sox hung on to eliminate Ephrata 5-4.
In the Semi-Finals, the Red Sox faced their new rival, the PlayBall Black Sox and again set the tone early as they swept the Black Sox by scores of 7-3, 13-2 and 4-3 to secure their improbable fifth straight trip to the LCS.
In the League Championship Series, the Sox faced a familiar, but yet unexpected foe in the Smitty’s Cardinals.
Although, the Sox and Cardinals had squared off in the LCS in 2003, 2004 and 2005, they both made it their as the #1 and #2 seeds entering the play-offs.
This year, the Red Sox were the #4 seed and the Cardinals needed a tie-breaker game against the Lititz Pirates just to secure the #6 and final seed of the post-season.
The Red Sox had taken the series in 2003 and the Cardinals came out on top in both 2004 and 2005.
The Red Sox again would be looking to take control of the momentum in the series early and they did just that with a 12-3 win in game 1 at home at George Field.
The next night, the Sox took a commanding 2-games-none lead over the Cards with a 6-4 win.
Heading to Lancaster for game three and riding a seven game post-season winning streak, their was a lot of talk on the bus ride to the game about how the team would celebrate after the sweep.
Unfortunately, Smitty’s was not about to go down without a fight and slapped the Sox around that night on their way to a 7-4 win and forcing a game four in the best-of-five game series.
After the game, Clouser had to remind his club that the year before, they were down to that same Smitty’s club 2-0 and came back to win the series. He made sure that they would be focused the next night and complete the task at hand.
The following night, August 8, 2007, the Red Sox came out focused and determined and put the Cardinals away 7-3 to bring home their second straight league title and third in the past five years while notching a record breaking 59-23-1 record.
“The thing that made this club special was that even with all of the injuries and all of the set-backs, someone different would step-up every night.” Said Dan Clouser, Red Sox manager. “We were very deep and had guys who understood their roles and were ready to go when we needed them.”
|2008||45-21-1||Dan Clouser View 2008 Team Archive|
|Back to back championships are hard enough to come by. After accomplishing that feat, the 2008 Berkshire Red Sox Quad County Optimist League team set out to become the first three-peat champion in Quad County Optimist League history.
As if those preseason expectations weren’t enough, the Red Sox had a streak of five consecutive appearances in the League Championship Series, another Quad County League record.
Manager Dan Clouser returned at the helm for his 9th season as Red Sox skipper, after an offseason filled with uncertainty about his return.
The Red Sox returned a plethora of seasoned leaders, including 2007 MVP Peter Jordan, Kyle Stover, Leon Adams, Dave Morris, Zac Schneider, and Rob “The Cap” Lozenski.
They also added some new faces in the offseason. They picked up three starting pitchers, Andrew Ball, Billy Huntzinger, and Kevin Thomas, as well as a few solid relievers in Dave Schaeffer, Brock Laubenstine, and a bona fide closer in Andy Long.
When Long left to play in an independent summer league in New York, 17 year old Laubenstine was eager to step up and fill the closers role, thriving in high pressure situations.
Pitching was the biggest question coming into the 2008 season. The departure of Pittsburgh University standout Nate Reed to the prestigious Cape Cod League, as well as a wrist injury to expected starter Kevin Morganti, really set the team back. Add to that the unknown of Kevin Lengyel, coming off 2007 shoulder surgery, and this pitching staff was left looking for answers.
Luckily, they found them.
From day one, the Red Sox starting rotation of veterans Jeremy Hess and Joey Harris, along with rookies Andrew Ball, Billy Huntzinger, and Kevin Thomas, performed at a level that put the Red Sox in prime position to three-peat. They had their ups and downs as any pitching staff does, but consistently gave their team a chance to win.
The Red Sox got off to a hot start, winning their first three games, including a 5-4 win over the Berkshire Blue Sox at First Energy Stadium.
They were set back rather quickly, however, dropping back to back games to the Playball Black Sox, who would turn out to be the biggest obstacle to a Red Sox third consecutive championship. Ever since last year’s Red Sox sweep of the Black Sox in the playoffs, the heated rivalry has been escalating.
The Red Sox had some peaks and valleys throughout the summer, as expected with a long season.
Solid wins against a tough Ephrata Blue Coats team were offset by a couple of bad blowout losses to Memory 21. The Red Sox battled, however, and put themselves in prime position to win the Eastern Division Championship.
A group of unsung heroes for the Red Sox in 2008 was the bullpen. The combination of Mike Billera-Smith, Dave Schaeffer, Andy Long, Shane Stein, Jason Dunkelberger, legion add-on Derreck Boyer, and closer Brock Laubenstine instilled a great amount of confidence in Manager Dan Clouser late in games.
This was made evident in a key July 1 game at Ephrata. The Red Sox, needing a win to keep pace with the Playball Black Sox, had to turn to the bullpen early. The unsung pen allowed just one run over 8 innings, holding Ephrata long enough for Dave Morris to deliver a 2-out, 2-RBI triple to give the Red Sox a 6-4, 11-inning thrilling win.
In early July, the Red Sox added a familiar face to their roster. Chad Denunzio came out of retirement to try to give the Red Sox a much needed lift, as well as some veteran leadership and power in the middle of the lineup.
After a bad loss to Memory 21 on July 10 at Pendora Park, the Red Sox ripped off five straight league wins, and found themselves tied with the Playball Black Sox atop the Eastern Division, which forced a one game playoff for the Eastern Division title.
The Red Sox jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and were well on their way to a Division Championship.
Not so fast.
The Black Sox stormed back to take a 6-4 lead. It didn’t phase the resilient Red Sox, however, who battled right back to tie the game at 6. These Red Sox were not to be denied this game.
Leon Adams, who was a consistent force at the top of the lineup all year, was driven in by Jason Dunkelberger in the bottom of the 7th inning to give the Red Sox a 7-6 win, as well as the Eastern Division Championship.
First goal, achieved.
On to the playoffs, where the top-seeded Red Sox took on a tough Memory 21 team, which was a daunting task considering Memory 21 had trounced the Red Sox a combined 20-4 the past two regular season games.
In the best of three series, the Red Sox quickly erased all doubts, pounding Memory 21 in game one, 12-1.
The series then shifted to Egelman’s Park, where the Red Sox jumped out to a quick lead on a Leon Adams home run on the first pitch of the game. The Red Sox’ bats when silent after that, which would turn out to be an unfortunate foreshadowing ahead to the rest of the playoffs.
The Sox battled, however, and down 2-1 in their last at bats, the resilient Red Sox strung together one last rally, combining some key hits with some key hit by pitches, as well as some flat out luck. They scored 3 runs in the inning, and Brock Laubenstine shut the door to give the Red Sox a 2-0 series win, their 6th straight playoff series victory.
The win set up a date with the all-to-familiar Playball Black Sox, who the Red Sox swept out of the playoffs last year en route to their second straight championship.
The stage was set for a great series, with each team beating the other twice in 2008.
This year, however, Playball had a chip on their shoulders, and the Red Sox’ inconsistent offense was shut down by Playball’s dominant pitching.
After a 6-0 Playball win in game one, the Red Sox battled back in game two, sending the game all the way to 9 innings. The Red Sox squandered too many opportunities, however, and Playball capitalized, pulling out a 6-4 win at George Field.
Down 2-0 in the series, the Red Sox headed to Union Township to try to keep their season alive. The Red Sox tried to pull some magic from the 2006 season, when they came back from a 2-0 deficit to stun the Smitty’s Cardinals on their way to the championship.
It just wasn’t meant to be.
The Black Sox used four home runs and a Thomas Ashman 2-hit shutout to end the Red Sox season short of the championship series for the first time in 6 years. It snapped the Red Sox streak of 6 consecutive playoff series wins.
The Black Sox would go on to sweep Manheim Township in the League Championship series for their first ever League Championship, going 8-0 in the postseason.
After failing to win a third straight championship, the offseason for the Red Sox will surely be filled with many decisions. Many veterans will consider retirement after magnificent careers in the Red Sox organization. Manager Dan Clouser will have to search for ways to improve the team and load up again for 2009.
Despite the unknowns, one thing is for sure.
The Red Sox will be hungry in 2009.
|2009||30-31-1||Dan Clouser View 2009 Team Archive|
|Making its 16th straight post-season berth, the Berkshire Optimist team finished with a regular season record of 30-31-1, falling under .500 for the first time since 2002. The team knew going into the 2009 season that it would be a rebuilding year, considering it lost many key players from previous years, but it still managed to make yet another post-season appearance.
Not returning in 2009 for the Optimist team were Leon Adams, Rob Lozenski, 2008 defensive player of the year Pete Jordan, 2008 outstanding pitcher Billy Huntzinger, Kyle Stover, and Dave Morris who shared the 2008 MVP award with Adams. Other pitchers lost along with Huntzinger were starting pitcher Joe Harris, Dave Schaeffer, and Kevin Morganti. On the offensive side, non-returning players were John Guiseppe, Jason Dunkleberger, and Chad Denunzio.
Although nearly half the team hadn’t returned in 2009, there have been some pretty impressive hauls throughout the season. Shane Stein was one of the most outstanding players during the season, consistently reaching base while earning awards for his good sportsmanship. Thirty games into the season Stein was batting a mere .196 going only 9-46 at the plate. His remarkable second half season was impressive as he ended the season up from .196 to .300, going 33 for 110 at the plate with a .476 on-base percentage. He also had 28 walks on top of his 33 hits.
Most players the Optimist team had lost have been 4-5 year veterans. In spite of losing many players, it stayed alive by sweeping the Reading Diamondbacks in the first round of playoffs. Its youth is what kept them from returning to the championship game, as it was defeated 3-1 in a four game series during the semi-finals. In the bottom of the 7th inning of the last playoff game, Stein was thrown out at the plate from right field for the second out and sealing its loss. With the experience the new team gained in 2009, it can come back stronger in 2010 with more consistency and better offensive play.
|2010||30-27-2||Dan Clouser View 2010 Team Archive|
|On paper, the Berkshire Red Sox Quad County team was the team to beat in 2010. Stacked with quality pitching and a potent offense, the team looked to capture their first title since 2007.
Unfortunately, the team lacked some much needed leadership and chemistry throughout the season and struggled.
The common theme was to play to their competitions level, but never to play to their own capabilities.
The team played just well enough to make their 17th straight post-season appearance and once again advanced to the league semi-finals of the play-offs before bowing out to their rival, the reading Diamondbacks.
Following the end of the season, longtime manager Dan Clouser, stepped down in hopes that a new voice at the helm could instill the fire into a very talented group of players and get them back to being the pinnacle of the Quad County Optimist League once again.
|2011||30-18||Bill Hartranft View 2011 Team Archive|