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Spring-Ford outslugs Conestoga for AAAA crown

With eight errors, it wasn't close to being a well-played PIAA District 1 Class AAAA baseball championship game.

With eight errors, it wasn't close to being a well-played PIAA District 1 Class AAAA baseball championship game.

But Thursday's matchup between Conestoga and Spring-Ford was a record-setter. In Spring-Ford's 22-11, five-inning triumph at Everett Swanson Field, on the Glen Mills campus, the teams set a record for runs scored in a big-school District 1 final.

The Rams notched eight runs in the bottom of the first. In the third, the Pioneers answered with the same number to go in front, 10-8. Spring-Ford added five in the bottom half of that frame and brought on the mercy rule with a nine-run fourth.

"We knew, coming in, that they could hit the ball," Rams coach Bruce Brobst said. "They kept battling, kept hitting, and kept hitting the ball to places we weren't at."

Spring-Ford earned its first district title since 2001. That year, it edged Conestoga, 8-7. The Rams also took top district honors - Class AAA was the largest classification at the time - in 1988.

The record for runs scored in any District 1 baseball final is 37. In 1991, in Class AA, St. Pius X topped Bishop Shanahan, 23-14.

In the state tournament, which begins Monday, Spring-Ford will face District 3's third-place qualifier.

Conestoga, which was seeking its first district championship since 2002, will open against the loser of Friday's District 12 final between Frankford and Monsignor Bonner.

Against the Pioneers, who were hurt by five errors, the Rams banged out 17 hits. In their eight-run first, Ricky Gorrell (4 for 5, 4 runs, 3 RBIs) had a two-run triple and Ryan Conway delivered the first of his two home runs, a three-run blast to left field.

"It never fails with our team," said Gorrell, a senior shortstop bound for Kutztown. "We swing the bats. We hit up and down the order."

In the third, Conestoga's nine-hit, eight-run outburst gave indication of a down-to-the-wire slugfest. "We haven't quit all year," Pioneers coach John Vogan said. "We weren't going to start today."

Ryan Richter (two-run double) and Jake Carr (two-run single) keyed the comeback that led to the dismissal of Spring-Ford starter Sean Larkin, who was touched for nine runs and 10 hits in 21/3 innings.

Richie Michaud, who had last pitched in late April, replaced Larkin, yielded only three hits the rest of the way, and was credited with the victory.

"He did a great job," Gorrell said. "He always comes in and throws strikes."

In a nine-run fourth that included Tom Grablewski's two-run double to center, the Rams were aided by three errors and two walks.

"We have to keep the loss in perspective," Vogan said. "That's an excellent baseball team. We'll regroup over the weekend and get back at it on Monday."

Conestoga   11801 - 11135

Spring-Ford   8059x - 22173

WP: Richie Michaud. LP: Matt Cowell. 2B: C-Ryan Richter 2; SF-Michaud, Patrick Medley, Tom Grablewski, Ricky Gorrell. 3B: SF-Gorrell. HR: C-Luke Mogle; SF-Ryan Conway 2, Cody Clarke.