BOYERTOWN – One bad inning put Swoyersville in a big hole.
Dan Knechel spent the rest of the game making sure Swoyersville didn’t climb out.
Knechel pitched a complete-game four-hit shutout Monday and Souderton used a six-run second inning to spark an 8-0 victory over Swoyersville in a winners bracket final game in the Pennsylvania American Legion state baseball tournament at Bears Stadium.
Souderton’s Luke Barnum started a rally that sent 10 batters to the plate when he drilled a two-out, two-run double off Swoyersville starter Pat Adamski. Nolan Bolton followed with a bloop single to right to plate the third run. Two batters later, Souderton pushed across is fourth run on wild pitch.
Luke Shank had a broken-bat single that was bobbled to score the fifth run, and Knechel added the sixth run on a single to right. Shank was thrown out at third by center fielder Draig Ruff to end the inning.
That was the last hit Adamski allowed for the next three innings, but the damage was done.
Souderton scored again in the sixth inning when three consecutive Swoyersville errors led to two runs and knocked Adamski from the mound.
Souderton loaded the bases with two outs in the opening inning off Adamski, but the right-hander got a groundout to end the threat. He finished with six strikeouts, but was victimized by five Swoyersville errors that made five of the eight runs he surrendered unearned.
Meanwhile, Knechel was in command from the start.
He allowed just four hits — including Zach Szott’s sixth-inning double — and struck out seven, retiring nine straight batters from the second to fifth innings.
Some bad baserunning cost Swoyersville a chance to score, as a slide past second base turned into the first out of the sixth inning and the last out of the frame came when a runner was caught in a rundown trying to advance from second to third base.
The victory guaranteed Souderton a spot in the state championship finals and one of two bids to the national regionals — the Mid-Atlantic Tournament at Purcellville, Virginia, to be held from Aug. 8 to 12.
The game began at 9:25 p.m., two hours and 20 minutes from the scheduled 7:05 start due to a constant rain that began falling approximately 20 minutes before the game and ruined field conditions in the infield and outfield.
Swoyersville dropped to 2-1 in state play and will face Spring City at 12:35 p.m. Tuesday as the double-elimination tournament continues while 3-0 Souderton will face Ephrata at 3:35 p.m.
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