Souderton and Central Bucks South are league rivals within a 30-minute drive of each other.
On Friday, the Suburban One League Continental Division baseball teams might cross paths on the highway with a state championship looming. The Indians and Titans, who play twice a year in league play, will meet at 10:30 a.m. in the PIAA Class 6A championship game at Penn State’s Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in State College.
The game, originally set for 4:30 p.m., was moved up to accommodate Central Bucks South’s 4:15 p.m. graduation ceremonies. That moved the Class 2A title game between Devon Prep and Serra Catholic from 10:30 to 4:30.
“It’s great to have both of our teams [in the championship game]. I just wish we didn’t have to drive three hours for it,” Souderton coach Mike Childs said, only half joking. “We can just play at Villanova or somewhere? But it is what it is. We’re just happy to be here.”
Souderton (23-4) had the edge over the Titans (19-7) during the regular season, beating them twice in 2-0 shutouts. In those wins, the Indians relied on pitcher Jordan Morales and a strong defensive output, but Luke Taylor will start the title game.
Souderton won the Continental Division title with a 12-0 record. Central Bucks South tied with Quakertown for second place at 7-5.
In the Indians’ 11-1 quarterfinal win over Plymouth Whitemarsh, Taylor had eight strikeouts and held the Colonials to four hits. Overall, Taylor is 7-1 on the season with a 1.28 ERA and 67 strikeouts.
Central Bucks South has yet to face Taylor this year, and Childs said that gives the Indians a huge advantage.
“With Luke on the mound, we’re very confident, and we’re very confident playing behind him,” Childs said. “We are fully confident in our pitching staff going into Friday even if Luke gets tired, runs out of pitches or whatever because we have three more chomping at the bit ready to go.”
Souderton, the fifth seed from District 1, upset District 12 champ La Salle, 7-1, in the first round. After the Indians beat District 1 third seed Plymouth Whitemarsh in the quarterfinals, they eliminated District 1 top seed Neshaminy, 3-0, in the semifinals.
Central Bucks South is the second seed from District 1. It beat District 11 second seed Emmaus, 4-3, in the first round, District 3 top seed Wilson, 2-1, in the quarterfinals and District 7 third seed North Allegheny, 11-6, in the semifinals.
Although the Central Bucks South hitters did not have much success against Souderton’s pitching during the regular season, the Titans found their groove late in Tuesday’s victory over North Allegheny and put together a nine-run sixth inning to win.
Titans coach Brian Klumpp said his team’s ability to adjust and become more patient at the plate was the key.
Jake Trachtenberg, batting .432 on the season with 26 RBIs, went 2-for-3 with a double, three RBIs and two runs against Neshaminy. Dakota Beck added three RBIs.
But Klumpp said the biggest boost in the lineup has been Joey Loynd, a Delaware recruit who didn’t play in the previous two games against Souderton due to a shoulder injury. He had two doubles and two RBIs against North Allegheny.
In the postseason, Loynd is hitting .444 with five doubles, a triple, a homer and seven RBIs. He also has a slugging percentage of .815.
“He’s one of the best players in the area, and he just adds so much to our lineup and defensively,” Klumpp said. “I think it just gives us a bunch of confidence when he’s in the lineup.”
At 4:30, Devon Prep (11-13) is to play Serra Catholic (23-3) in the 2A final. Devon Prep is the District 12 top seed. The Tide beat District 3 top seed Kutztown, 4-1, in the first round and District 5 champ Conemaugh Township, 5-0, in the quarterfinals.
Andrew Czachor performed well on the mound and at the plate for the Tide in a 3-1 win over South Williamsport, the District 4 champs, in the semifinals on Tuesday. He hit a double, scored one run and had nine strikeouts. Jackson Jonik, Thomas Cunningham and Kevin Walton each had one RBI. Bere Bauers earned the win with five strikeouts.