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SP reaches regional final

The double-elimination format combined with a day of rain outs provided for an interesting twist to the American Legion Regional 2 tournament.

South Parkland stood as the only undefeated team coming into Tuesday, while three other teams, all with one loss, were also alive. No matter what happened in South Parkland’s game against Souderton, the Trojans were still alive to play in the championship game. They just weren’t sure whether they would be playing that game Tuesday or Wednesday. In other words, Tuesday’s game against Souderton was what’s called a “throw away” game. In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t really matter.

Souderton avoided elimination against South Parkland with a 7-0 win, handing South Parkland not just its first loss of the tournament, but its first loss of the season after winning 20 regular season games and three regional games.

“It’s kind of a rough spot because you’re a little flat going in and we’re banged up,” said Parkland head coach Tom Kahn. “We didn’t play Adam Mellinger and we could have had Adam [Smith] pitch, but we didn’t.

“I just don’t think you have the intensity when you don’t have to win. We’re still the same team and we’ll show up tomorrow, I can guarantee that, no matter who we play.”

South Parkland and Souderton will have a rematch for the Region 2 championship after Souderton beat Norchester 4-1 in Tuesday’s finale to reach the finals. The Trojans are set to open the game with Smith on the mound and have Josh Miller available to pitch in the game, which will match the Lehigh Valley Legion league’s best team this season against a team comprised primarily of players who won the PIAA Championship during the high school season.

“We’ll come with a different intensity for the final,” said Kahn, who guided the team to the Region 2 championship two seasons ago. “We’ll have Adam and Josh ready and we’ll be the same team that we’ve been all season long.”

Alex Oliver started for South Parkland Tuesday and Souderton came out swinging, picking up three hits that pushed across a run in the top of the first inning and then using a walk, a hit batter and an RBI single to make it 2-0 after two innings.

The game was marked by a number of bloop singles on the part of Souderton. South Parkland managed just three hits, all of which were doubles.

Shortstop Matt Ervolina collected two of the doubles, but unfortunately, both came with two outs. His sixth-inning double put runners on first and third after Gabe Stay drew a walk. Souderton pitcher Luke Taylor came back to get the final out of the inning and keep South Parkland off the board.

“I really do think that we had the three hardest hit balls of the day on those doubles,” said Kahn. “There weren’t really a lot of hard-hit balls in the game. It was just that kind of day. If we get a couple more hits around those, it could have been a different game.”

Souderton picked up two runs in the fourth and added three unearned runs in the fifth to bust the game open. The fourth inning could have been worse for South Parkland, but it was ruled that Aaron Groller missed the plate when he appeared to have scored ahead of a throw from center fielder Joe Webber.

Groller was ruled out after catcher Jack Giovenco had fired to third to cut down Conlan Wall, who tried to advance on the play at the plate. The controversial call at the plate, combined with Giovenco’s strong throw to third, ended the inning.

The game got a little chippy when Souderton players seemingly taunted South Parkland from the dugout. At one point, the first base umpire called time out to warn Souderton about the conduct of its players.

South Parkland fought through the first three games of the tournament with wins over Quakertown, Fleetwood Post 625 and Norchester before facing Souderton.

In the tournament, Ervolina has had the hot bat, hitting .636 (7-for-11) with two runs scored and four driven in. Mellinger was 4-for-8 before sitting against Souderton and Gabe Stay had a two-hit game against Fleetwood.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZSouth Parkland won three games at the American Legion Region 2 playoff tournament and earned a place in Wednesday's championship game against Souderton.