Yoder plays new role in title defense

PHOENIXVILLE — On July 20, 2003, a Sunday, I stopped in Phoenixville on the way home from the Philadelphia area to tell the people in that Babe Ruth League that Mifflin County had just won two state titles (13- and 15-year-olds) and we would be looking forward to seeing them the next weekend as they were the host to the state’s final four for the 14-year-olds.

The late David White, who was the league’s statistician, public address annoucer and the glue that kept Phoenixville in Babe Ruth, said there was no way Mifflin County would beat Levittown, the defending national champion.

Mifflin County found a way.

In an ironic twist of fate, the Mifflin County 14-year-old manager, Justin Yoder, was an assistant coach on that team that knocked off the defending national champions. Yoder is now the manager of the Mifflin County 14-year-olds — who are the defending national champions.

That Friday night, July 25, Mifflin County fell behind early to Levittown by two runs, but came up with three runs in the fifth inning.

Dane Glick and Kevin Ryan singled, Curtis Eversole walked and Chris Tressler reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. Matt Mazzoni then smashed a two-run double and when Matt Gregg reached on an error another run scored.

In the sixth, Mifflin County scored five times to wrap up the upset. Josh McKay opened the sixth with a walk and Eversole singled home McKay. Tressler reached on an error and later scored on a throwing error by the Levittown catcher. McKay scored when Tressler reached first. Ryan walked and Mazzoni came up with his second double of the game. Josh Yoder then wrapped up the scoring with a two-run double.

Levittown added a run in the seventh making it 8-3. Tressler went the distance as he struck out nine, walked one and gave up nine hits. Mifflin County turned two double plays behind Tressler. In the fifth, Ed Deans threw out a runner at home plate from left field for the second double play of the game.

“Chris pitched a heck of a game,” said Yoder, the team’s pitching coach. “He kept us in the game as he was around the plate all night. With him on the mound we knew we were in the game.”

After the game, the late Fred Zook, the Mifflin County manager, was all smiles and his usual self. I can remember Fred walking out of the ball park into the dark, giving me a quote with his hands up in the air saying, “We were hitting the ball hard early and I knew we could uncork them. We put pressure on them and they felt it.”

That Sunday, July 27, Mifflin County beat State College, 7-5, in the state finals to sweep the state. Deans was the winning pitcher as he went six innings. Kyle Heane picked up the save with a 1-2-3 seventh and ended the game with a strikeout at 6:55 p.m. It was the only time since the 14-year-old program was established in 1998 that a league has swept all three state Babe Ruth titles.