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State Champions! Rocky Grove Takes Home PIAA 2A Baseball Title
Rocky Grove, yes little old Rocky Grove, is on top of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania when it comes to Class 2A baseball in 2018.
The Orioles claimed the school’s first PIAA Championship in any sport and the first PIAA baseball title ever in District 10 with a 5-4 victory over District 3 champion Camp Hill Thursday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on the campus of Penn State University.
“It is incredible,” Rocky Grove senior catcher Justin Heller said. “I can’t believe it. In my other sports, I have done well at districts, but this is just incredible. This isn’t even my best sports, but I am just thrilled to be a part of this. I love it.”
Watch all of Heller’s postgame thoughts.
Tyler Knupp, who picked up the save, said he has been dreaming of this moment nearly his entire life.
“Ever since I picked up a baseball bat for the first time (I have dreamed) of winning a state championship,” Knupp said.
Knupp’s postgame remarks.
Rocky Grove manager Bill Wilson has been in charge of the program for 10 years, and what his team had just accomplished hadn’t sunk in yet 10 minutes after the game.
“I’m not going to lie to you, that part still hasn’t sunk in,” Wilson said when asked what it meant to win the first baseball title in District 10 history. “I know it happened. I’m just very proud of District 10 because every team that we have played, who knows how many time over how many years, that we were challenged by, that beat the snot out of us, that we had close games with, we are representing every team there. It’s a big combination of all those team put together fighting each other to finally put someone in a place like this and get the win to show the rest of the state that we are just as good as you.”
Rocky Grove struck often and early and then held off a late rally by Camp Hill, owners of four PIAA titles in its history.
The Orioles scored twice in the first on a two-strike RBI single to center by Scott Perry and a Camp Hill error.
“The biggest part of the game is getting runs, that is what wins,” Scott Perry said.
Listen to all of Scott Perry’s thoughts.
Rocky Grove added three more runs in the second thanks to a double by Knupp that scored Heller and a two-run home run over the 375-foot sign in right-center field by Travis Perry.
“I hit a fastball out over the plate, and I took it that way,” Travis Perry, who is headed to Youngstown State to play baseball next season, said. “I just went with the pitch. I knew I hit it good, but I thought it was going off that wall. I was getting ready to go to third, and it hit that tree. I was like, holy crap. It was unreal.”
See everything Travis Perry had to say about the victory.
Wilson said the early runs were something he had prayed about in the morning.
“I was up at 5 o’clock this morning praying and reading my bible,” Wilson said. “I just kept asking God to not make this so hard on me today. I felt like my heart was breaking and my body was aching. I kept praying that he would make it so I can breathe during the game and it wouldn’t be so stressful that I wouldn’t get sick in my mind and my belly and not be able to do my job.”
Wilson’s faith was very evident in his postgame remarks.
“I just look at through the eyes of serving God,” Wilson said when asked about winning the title. “I got here because of him. I got this job because of him. I was a teacher because of him and a lot of prayer, and he gave me all these opportunities. I am so humbled to him for what he has done. I believe with all my heart and soul and everything I have that God did this for us so at the end of the day, at least for my part, I could give him the glory right back to him because he put us here.”
Up 5-0, Rocky Grove looked in pretty good position to take home the title. But the Orioles defense was just shaky enough to let Camp Hill back into the game.
First, in the third, Scott Perry couldn’t catch a pop fly just behind the mound hit by leadoff hitter Carey Myers, and, following a one-out walk to Connor Bowen, a snap throw to first by Heller couldn’t be handled by first baseman Conner Curran allowing Myers to score all the way from second on the error that was charged to Curran.
But with Bowen at second and just one out and the top of the order coming to the plate for Camp Hill, Scott Perry buckled down and struck out Quinn Buffington, who is headed to East Tennessee State to play baseball, and Josh Goodyear to end the inning.
Scott Perry worked his way out of trouble again in the fourth when Camp Hill loaded the bases with two outs only to have Mason Gavlick groundout to Koby Winslow at second base to end the inning.
“He had his fastball working on the outside corner,” Heller said. “He did start to aiming a little bit and went to his curveball. But his fastball was on the outside corner. That is all you can ask for.”
Still, up 5-1 going to the sixth, two more Rocky Grove errors helped the Lions get right back in the game.
Luke Goodyear led off the inning with a single to left, and one out later, Jackson Thompson singled to right.
Things looked like they would be ok when Myers grounded a ball to Travis Perry at shortstop, but Winslow dropped the throw to second allowing Luke Goodyear to score all the way from second with Thompson safe at second and Myers safe at first.
Another error on Winslow on a ball hit by Gavlick scored a second run. Winslow waited on the play to tag Myers going to second, but his throw to first short hoped Curran at first allowing Thompson to score. It was the fifth error of the game on the Orioles.
“Here is the thing, we had five errors and we still won,” Wilson said. “(We won) because they kept their composure even with those errors. They kept their composure and did their job. That is what great teams are made of. You can make that many mistakes and still win it.”
Up 5-3 going to the seventh, Rocky Grove had to go to the bullpen with Scott Perry having reached 100 pitches.
That brought Knupp, who entered the game with three saves, to try to lock down the win.
But Knupp struggled with control early walking Buffington on four pitches and then throwing ball one to Josh Goodyear.
At that point, Wilson looked like he was going to come out of the dugout to go talk to his pitcher. But before he could, Heller went to the mound and was joined by the entire infield.
“I wanted to do a visit, but I knew I only had one left,” Wilson said. “As soon as Boots (Heller’s nickname) got up, I was like, good they will go talk to him and I won’t have to waste a visit on that one. All the people in Franklin keep calling them a band of brothers, and if I see those kids out there uniting, I am good. I am comfortable with whatever they are going to say to him. He went out there and finished up.”
Knupp responded to his teammates by getting Josh Goodyear to ground to Travis Perry for a fielder’s choice at second and then getting Luke Newman to groundout to Scott Perry, now playing third.
“I felt like the game was going a little bit too fast for him,” Heller said. “I have only been catching for one year, but I’m starting to realize what the pitchers like. He was starting to speed up and aim his pitches. I was like look slow down we are going to get outs for you and they are going to hit the ball right to us. We are going to be fine.”
With a runner at second and two outs, Wilson went unconventional ordering an intentional walk to Luke Goodyear, who was 2-for-3 up to that point, putting the tying run at first and the go-ahead run at the plate.
“I stand by that,” Wilson said. “The kid roped two balls to left field. He just destroyed them. If he is hitting the ball that hard and seeing it that well, the next one could be a two-run bomb and it’s a tie game. I knew I was putting the tying run on but don’t want to give the tying run up right there with one swing. If you were here today, you saw he was the kid that was going to do it. He was stroking it. I think it was the right call. It could have gone the other way.”
It looked for a moment that it might go the other way when Casey Fellinger singled to center scoring Josh Goodyear from second and moving Luke Goodyear into scoring position at second.
But Knupp got Thompson to pop up to Scott Perry at third base, who made the catch after an anxious moment setting off a celebration of wild proportions.
“We just won,” Scott Perry said when asked what was going through his mind at the moment he made the catch. “It was definitely the biggest game of our lives. For sure, it was awesome. It couldn’t have felt any better.”
Scott Perry said his older brother, Travis, was the first to reach him.
“It was awesome,” Scott Perry said. “Hugging each other for his last high school career game and my last game with him, it was awesome.”
Scott Perry, needing to pitch because Travis Perry, the ace, wasn’t available because of throwing 100 pitches Monday in a 2-1 semifinal win over Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, was very strong going six innings of four-hit ball. He allowed three unearned runs while walking three and striking out six.
“I knew it was going to be the biggest game of my life,” Scott Perry said. “It honestly just felt like another game, another game on the mound. It felt great. I was throwing as good as I could have. It felt good.”
ROCKY GROVE 5, CAMP HILL 4
Score by Innings
Camp Hill 001 002 1 – 4
Rocky Grove 230 000 x – 5
CAMP HILL – 4
Quinn Buffington cf 3000, Josh Goodyear p 3100, Luke Newman 4000, Luke Goodyear 3120, Casey Fellinger lf 3011, Jackson Thompson c 3110, Carey Myers 2100, Mason Gavlick ss 3000, Connor Bowen 1b 2010. Totals 26-4-5-1.
ROCKY GROVE – 5
Justin Heller c 3110, Tyler Knupp rf/p 3221, Travis Perry ss 2212, Conner Curran 1b 2000, Scott Perry p/3b 3011, Caden Toscano cr 0000, Hunter Bruner cf 3000, Nick Sanner 3b/rf 3020, Tyler Clayton lf 3010, Koby Winslow 2b 3000. Totals 25-5-8-4.
LOB: Camp Hill 8. Rocky Grove 4. Errors: Camp Hill 1. Rocky Grove 5. 2B: Knupp, Sanner. HR. Travis Perry. DP: Rocky Grove 1 (Winslow to Travis Perry to Curran). HBP: Fellinger by Scott Perry, Myers by Scott Perry. CS: Sanner, Clayton.
Josh Goodyear 5 ⅓ IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Carey Myers ⅔ IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Totals: 6 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Scott Perry 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 2 HP
Tyler Knupp 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 0 HP
Totals: 7 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 6 K, 2 HP
Winning pitcher: Scott Perry
Losing pitcher: Josh Goodyear
Save: Tyler Knupp
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