BOYERTOWN- A pair of unlikely heroes combined for the deciding run in the bottom of the 10th inning on Wednesday afternoon as Boyertown outlasted Spring-Ford, 4-3. Ben Longarce singled home Wesley Fox with the game-winner at the wind-blown JV Field to boost the Bears (9-1, 9-2) into first place in the Pioneer Athletic Conference baseball standings by percentage points over the Rams (10-2, 10-2).
Fox — who started the game on the bench and stayed in to play second base after pinch running in the eighth — doubled down the line in right to open the 10th. He then stole third while Tyler Werner was drawing a walk and Longacre grounded a hit up the middle through a drawn-in infield to give the Bears the marathon win.
"I just hit it off the end of the bat, tried to make something happen, punch it through,' said Longacre, a sophomore outfielder.
"Yesterday, he was on the JV team,' said Bear coach Todd Moyer. "Today he got his first varsity start. He got on base his first time up (on a walk) and got the game-winning hit his last time up. You couldn't ask for more.'
And Fox delivered the only extra-base hit of the Bears' nine on the day, which included four bunt singles.
"He's our starting second baseman,' Moyer added. "He hasn't been swinging the bat well. He had a new stance.'
Connor Klemann had led off the game with a wind-aided homer to right off Tyler Bauman and the Rams added a run in the second on a leadoff walk by Zach Wedemeyer, two wild pitches, and a grounder to second by Corey Rantz.
Boyertown came back to take the lead with three in the third on walks to Longacre and Dalton Hughes, a bunt hit by Austin Madeja with a run scoring on an errant throw to first, a fielder's choice grounder on which Hughes was safe at the plate, and a sacrifice fly by Mitch Pinder.
That's the way it stayed until the sixth when the visitors scored their only run in 4 2/3's innings of strong relief pitching by Sean Pavlik when Zack Zoller walked and stole second with two away and scored on a pinch single past third by Zach Smiley.
The Bears had a chance to go right back on top in their half when they loaded the bases with none out on a walk to Pinder and back-to-back bunt hits by Tyler Comport and Werner. But Ryan Cass — who blanked the hosts for 5 2/3's frames in relief of starter Cody Brown — escaped on a force at the plate on a grounder to second baseman Connor Murphy, another out at home when Zoller fielded a ball that dropped into shallow left and fired to the plate just in time, and a strikeout.
The Bears had a chance to win it in the ninth with runners on second and third with one out. But Murphy snared a line drive and first baseman Wedemeyer made a diving stop of a grounder and won the race to the first base bag to retire the side.
Then Spring-Ford threatened to take the lead in the 10th when Cam Simmons tripled with one out off James Buckley. But the senior right-hander fanned the next batter and Madeja ran down a fly to deep center by Wedemeyer to keep the score tied and set up the Bears' win in the bottom of the inning.
"Give all the credit to them,' said Ram coach Bruce Brobst. "They did what they needed to do and we didn't get it done. It was a tough offensive day with the wind, but the conditions were the same for both teams. They created their opportunities and we helped them along.
"It was just disappointing, because the same thing happened in the first game (a 6-2 Boyertown win on April 1). We didn't execute.'
Moyer had good things to say about all three of his pitchers, who allowed 10 hits and three walks and combined for 13 strikeouts.
"They hit a home run on the third pitch of the game, but (Bauman) settled down,' said the Bear coach. "He didn't have his best stuff, but he did a great job. Sean did a fantastic job. And Buckley pitching out of that jam was nothing less than phenomenal.'
"Bauman, Pav, and Buck all pitched great,' Longacre added. "Our defense kept us in the game, and we kept at it.'