By JEFF KERR
STATE COLLEGE - Chris Bauers dreamed of getting the base hit to win the state championship for Devon Prep.
The dream came true, but the plan worked out differently for the senior.
Bauers knew the Tide would score the winning run in extra innings, but the senior would put it on himself to make that dream a reality.
"We just find ways to score runs,' Bowers said. "I thought we would find a way to win today and we did. Getting piled on after crossing the plate was awesome.'
Bowers stole third with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning and forced a throw from Elk County Catholic catcher Dan Stauffer. The throw went wide of third baseman Ross Brennen and into left field. Bowers sprinted down the third base line and slid head-first into home plate as Devon Prep won the PIAA Class A Championship with a 2-1 victory over Elk County Catholic at Penn State's Medlar Field at Lubrano Park Friday night.
The title was the first in school history for Devon Prep (16-8), which used aggressive base-running all season in being the last team standing in Class A. That plan worked one final time for head coach Mark Aquilante once Bauers led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk.
"Chris is our best base stealer and it was going to come down to him,' Aquilante said. "If he steals a base (that's) great, if they throw (the ball) away (that's) great, but if he gets thrown out no big deal. We were a passed ball away from winning if he stole the bag. That was a great gamble in that situation and hey it worked.'
Bauers stole second and set himself up to score the winning run. With Eric Dipietro facing a 2-2 count, Bauers took off for third on the next pitch. Ten seconds later, the Tide celebrated like they never have before.
"This is just incredible,' Kohlbrenner said. "I can't think of a better way to go out, especially with Bowers walking off. A senior, no one better.'
Devon had to find ways to manufacture runs throughout the night as they finished with just one hit, a Dom Hardaway single in the first inning. Aquilante never envisioned winning a state title with the scenario he faced through most of the game.
"We compete and just have gotten tougher as the years have progressed here,'Aquilante said. "We win a lot of those kinds of games. We just do. That's a credit to the kids.'
Elk County (26-1) got on the board first in the fourth as Jonathan Dippold drove in a run as C.J. Kohlbrenner was playing in at second base. Kohlbrenner bobbled the ball as Dippold crossed the plate to make it 1-0.
Elk County starter Brandon Schlimm shot down the Tide after walking Bowers in the second, retiring 11 in a row before Matt Bevilacqua was hit by a pitch to lead off the sixth.
Once Devon was able to get Bevilacqua on base, the Tide were able to create some damage on the base paths by working the count.
After Kohlbrenner grounded out to second to force out the lead runner, Hardaway drew a walk and Tony Gallo was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Four pitches later, Sean Phelan hit a shallow fly ball to left field that scored Kohlbrenner from third and tied the game 1-1.
Devon starter Pat Rohr battled on the mound to keep his team in the game. Rohr pitched eight innings, allowed one run on five hits and struck out three. He threw 117 pitches.
Schlimm threw seven innings, allowed one run on one hit and struck out 11. Due to pitching seven innings in Elk's PIAA semifinal Monday, he had to leave the game after the seventh.
As Devon celebrated its state championship, the players couldn't have been happier for their hero of the night, Bowers. The senior had four stolen bases in his final high school game, but none will be bigger than his final one of the night. That play will be talked about in Devon forever.
Senior Zach Shellenger knew Devon Prep accomplished what it set out to do in March, but still couldn't believe it once he was handed the trophy with Kohlbrenner and Bauers.
"That was our goal coming into the season,' said Shellenger. "Even though we achieved what we set out to do, it still feels unreal. It's incredible.'
Devon Prep 2, Elk County Catholic 1, 9 inningsECC ab r h bi DEVON ab r h biJacob cf 3 0 2 0 Kohlbrenner 2b 4 1 0 0
B. Dippold lf 4 0 0 0 Hardaway c 3 0 1 0
Wortman rf 3 1 1 0 Gallo dh 3 0 0 0
Singer ss 4 0 0 0 Phelan 1b 3 0 0 1
J. Dippold 2b 2 0 0 1 Latran lf 4 0 0 0
Hoffman pr 0 0 0 0 Bauers cf 3 1 0 0
Struble pr 0 0 0 0 Dipietro 3b 3 0 0 0
Schlimm p 3 0 0 0 Klicka rf 2 0 0 0
Zelinski dh 4 0 1 0 Waters ph 0 0 0 0
Brennen 3b 3 0 0 0 Bevilacqua ss 2 0 0 0
Stauffer c 3 0 0 0
Gerber pr 0 0 0 0 Totals 29 1 4 1 Totals 27 2 1 1
Elk County Catholic 000 100 000--1
Devon Prep 000 001 001--2
Two outs when winning run scored.2B - Jacob (ECC)
IP H R BB SO
Elk County CatholicSchlimm 7 1 1 3 11
Childs, W 1.2 0 0 0 0Devon PrepRohr 8 4 2 2 3
Phelan, W 1 0 0 2 2
x 0 0 0 0 0
x 0 0 0 0 0