IMMACULATA — For the first inning of Tuesday's District 1-AAAA semifinal, Tyler Bauman looked a little vulnerable on the mound.
The rest of the contest, however, the Boyertown ace senior left-hander looked virtually untouchable.
Bauman wound up firing a no-hitter with six strikeouts and the Bears used a five-run third inning to take command of what wound up a weather-shortened, four-and-a-half inning 5-0 victory over Pioneer Athletic Conference rival Spring-Ford at Immaculata University.
With the victory, the North No. 2 seed Bears (20-4) advanced to the Thursday's District 1-AAAA final, set for Plymouth Township at 4 p.m.
They'll face the winner of the other semifinal between Conestoga and Methacton, which was suspended in the fifth inning with ' Stoga up 3-1 and will be resumed Wednesday.
The win was not only an historic one for Boyertown (which reached a district final for the first time since winning the 3-AAAA crown in 1995), but an emotional one as well.
The Bears played without shortstop and three-hole hitter Zach Moser, whose mother Trish passed away less than 24 hours earlier.
"We're like a family,' Bauman said. "Everyone has each other's backs. Everyone's playing for each other. And everyone knew we had to go out and do this for him.'
Bauman endured a bit of a shaky start during a 23-pitch first inning in which Rams leadoff man Connor Klemann laced a liner right at left fielder Dalton Hughes for the first out. Connor Murphy then reached on an error and took second on Dave Gulati's groundout before Cam Simmons drew a walk and stole second.
But Bauman escaped with a strikeout and allowed just one baserunner — a third inning walk to Klemann, who he picked off — the rest of the way.
"Everything was working today, honestly,' said Bauman, who had tossed a one-hit shutout in last week's 3-0 second-round win over Radnor. "I thought I could control all my pitches, especially the fastball and curveball, and throw them where I wanted to on counts I wanted to.'
"The first inning he struggled a little, and missed too many high pitches,' Boyertown coach Todd Moyer said of Bauman. "After that, he settled back down and got the ball down where he needed to, and showed how capable he is of moving the ball around the zone and getting people out.'
Spring-Ford junior right-hander Bret Clarke matched Bauman with goose eggs until the fateful third, when all hell broke loose for the North No. 4 seed Rams (17-6) after a leadoff strikeout.
Hughes drew a walk, Austin Madeja was safe at first when Clarke's throw on his sacrifice attempt pulled Dan Wedemeyer off the bag, and the lefty-swinging Griesemer beat out an infield single to plate Hughes and get the Bears on the board.
Madeja scored on the front end of a first-and-third double steal, Ben Longacre reached on an error that enabled Griesemer to score, Dan Purnell executed a safety squeeze to score Tyler Comport (who had walked) and Longacre raced home on a wild pitch to make it 5-0.
"You can't win playing baseball like that,' lamented Rams coach Bruce Brobst, whose squad committed three errors during the inning. "It's very disappointing because the first two games (in losses to the Bears) we did the same kinds of things. I thought, ' Well, there's no way we'll do it a third time.' Walking guys, not fielding, not making plays, not executing things. And to do it again?
"We weren't hitting, and we weren't fielding. Bret had to go out there and throw extra pitches because we didn't make the plays behind him. And so in what could have been a very good game, we didn't do what needed to be done.'
Boyertown, meanwhile, continued to get shutdown pitching (the Bears haven't allowed a run in 19 district tourney innings) while managing to manufacture runs in their traditionally opportunistic manner.
"I think its a good philosophy for any junior high school or high school team; put pressure on a team, they make a mistake, and odds are you're going to get them to make another one,' said Moyer. "That's what happened today. We got it rolling downhill on them, and it's hard to stop.'
"The guys went out there and did a great job putting up a lot of runs,' Bauman said. "It really helped my confidence the way they were scoring runs and playing defense.
"Everyone's playing well. It's awesome ... amazing. The guys have had a hell of a year, and its a great feeling.'
Moser made a brief appearance in the Bears dugout in the second inning. "It seemed to stir them up when he walked in,' Moyer said. "When we went out to play the field (in the top of the third), we got him in the middle (of the group) and said, ' He's here; let's make it about him.'' ... Purnell singled in a run in the bottom of the fifth inning, but since the game was called with two outs, the final score reverted to the previous half-inning. ... Spring-Ford, which like the Bears had already qualified for next week's PIAA Tournament, faces the loser of the Methacton/Conestoga game Thursday in the district's third-place game.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.