Krentzman’s takes Minor A title 2-1

MAITLAND – Krentzman’s used dominant pitching performances from Landon Black, Jack Berrier, and Cade Penepacker to edge Lake’s 2-1 and bring home the Minor A championship Saturday evening at Maitland Field.

The three pitchers threw two innings each in a gem that saw 16 of the 18 defensive outs for Krentzman be recorded via the strikeout. Black and Penepacker were especially strong in that department, striking out six apiece.

“We really could’ve gone six or seven deep, probably,” Krentzman’s manager John Pannizzo said of his pitching staff. “We’ve really been working with all the kids this season.”

The only blemish on the defensive side for Krentzman’s came in the second inning when Black faced a bases-loaded jam with no outs in a scoreless game. The right-hander then walked Ryan Hine to put Lake’s ahead 1-0, but was masterful after that, recording three straight strikeouts to escape the inning with no further damage.

Lake’s 1-0 lead proved to be very short-lived as starter Gavin Busch immediately ran into trouble to start the inning. He plunked Dylan Zellers, who advanced to second on a passed ball, and issued a walk to Austin Bowsman to create a jam of his own. Black then came through with an RBI-single to tie the game. Frank Pannizzo then recorded what would turn out to be the game-winning RBI with a groundout to first that plated Bowsman. Busch struck out Penepacker and Bobby Kuykendall to end the inning, but Lake’s could never tie it up.

“We both had pretty good pitching, but we came up a little bit short,” Lake’s manager Mike Souders said. “We just didn’t hit quite (well) enough to get it done.”

Krentzman’s was able to hold on for the championship primarily because of the impeccable relief innings it got from Penepacker and Berrier. Penepacker pitched the fifth and sixth innings, recording all six outs on strikeouts and looking very much like a closing pitcher.

“We like Cade and his intensity,” Pannizzo said of the hard-throwing right-hander. “When he’s on the mound, he’s very consistent and he brings it. That’s why he’s in that position for us.”

The win capped a season that was remarkably improved over last year. The 2013 Krentzman’s team finished dead last in the league standings and won zero regular season games. To even reach the championship game, let alone win it, was quite an accomplishment, according to Pannizzo.

“These kids worked so hard, I’m really proud of them,” Pannizzo said. “When we got to this game, I was really happy and I thought whatever happened would be all right since we were playing a really good team. This is just icing on the cake for these kids.”

Gabe Amspacker was also a member of the champion Krentzman’s squad, but was unable to attend the game and be in the championship photo.