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2005 Season Record: 39-24-1
MVP – Chad Denunzio & Matt Burkhart
Outstanding Pitcher – Phil Rummel
Sportsmanship/Hustle – Kyle Stover
Defensive Player of the Year – Zac Schneider
There were a lot of questions for the Berkshire Red Sox going into the 2005 season.
The losses of several key pitchers, that included staff ace and 2003 and 2004 co-outstanding pitcher award winner Zach Groh and key left-handers Justin Hanley and Robert Ash along with the fact that co-outstanding pitcher from the 2004 season, Matt Burkhart didn’t pitch an inning for DeSales in the Spring left a huge question mark in the Sox 2005 pitching staff.
Rookies Kevin Morganti, Hector Rodriguez and Phil Rummel were looking to fill some very important voids in that pitching staff.
Joining veteran righty Kevin Walbert in the rotation, Rodriguez and Morganti contributed early and Burkhart returned to form sooner rather than later to solidify a very strong staff in 2005.
The key to this season, however, was what manager Dan Clouser referred to as the “best bullpen in the league”.
The pen, which was made up of middle relievers, Jim Everhart, Matt Zaorski and Nick Zerbe often paved the way for closer Phil Rummel and his 88 mph fastball.
“The key to their (the middle relievers) success was their team attitude. They were certainly the unsung heroes of this club. They would go out there night after night and pitch for an inning or a batter or however long we needed them to go and they just went out and did there job. They knew that the next day in the paper, the line score would read that Walbert or one of the other starters got the win and that Rummel got the save and no one from the outside would ever even know that they had gotten into the game, but that didn’t matter to them, they knew and their teammates knew how important they were to this teams success.”
“They just wanted to whatever they could to help us win”
The bullpen did just that, leading the Sox to victory on several occasions, when their opponent had a tiring starter on the mound and the Sox bullpen was just getting started on working their magic.
“If it was close in the fifth, I knew we were going to pull it off” Clouser added.
The Sox finished with a league record of 19-9 and won the Eastern Division crown, which earned them a first round bye in the play-offs.
In the Semi-Finals, the Red Sox faced the Lititz Pirates.
After hammering the Pirates in game one 9-4, the Sox dropped the next two games 7-1 and 3-2 respectively and faced elimination.
Resilient as ever, the Sox battled back and won game four 8-5 and after getting down 4-0 after two innings in the series deciding fifth game, the Sox again battled back in dramatic fashion and cut the lead to 4-3 in the fourth before going up to stay with another three runs in the sixth to make it a 6-4 final and clinching their third straight League Championship Series against Smitty’s Cardinals.
It was once again the Sox bullpen, who logged 14 innings of work in the series to keep their opponents off balance and their team in the games.
In 2003, the Sox brought home the title by knocking off the Cards 3-games-to-1, last year the Cards got revenge by sweeping the Sox 3-games-to-none.
The two teams split their four games in 2005, so who knew what would be in store for the LCS.
However, with Lititz taking the Sox to five games in the semi-finals and the Cards sweeping Memory 21 in their semi-final series, Berkshire was playing their sixth game in as many days and Smitty’s was fresh off a two day rest. Most around the league figured Smitty’s would have an edge because of the taxing that was put on the Sox pitching staff in the semi-finals.
However, entering the bottom of the seventh inning in game one of the Quad County Optimist League Championship Series, the Berkshire Red Sox looked to be in complete control and ready to stun the defending champs.
They had shocked the Smitty’s Cardinals by tagging their staff ace, Matt Wagner for four runs and things didn’t look good for the Cardinals who were sending their 7, 8 and 9 hitters to the plate in the seventh to face Berkshire ace, Phil Rummel, trailing 4-0.
Clouser was hoping to give the bullpen a much needed day off and a complete game from Rummel would go a long way in keeping the pen fresh. Unfortunately, three singles later, Smitty’s had the bases loaded, Rummel was out of the game and the Cardinals were beginning to mount a comeback.
Lefty Nate Reed came into to face left-handed sticks, J.D. Stern and Kevin Kirchoff, both hitters battled Reed to full counts and ultimately, they each drew RBI walks to cut the Sox lead to 4-2.
Danny Morris then took the mound for the Sox to the heart of the Smitty’s order. Morris got the speedy Josh Butler to hit into a 6-4 fielders choice, but Butler beat the throw on the attempted double-play and the Cardinals were now within a run at 4-3.
The Sox intentionally walked the Cardinals number four hitter, Brandon Hostetter to load the bases again and keep the double play in tact.
A passed ball allowed the tying run to score and one batter later the winning run scored for the Cardinals when a ground ball up the middle bounced off Dave Morris and into Leon Adams’ hands , Adams made a throw to first that was late and the Sox were left shocked and demoralized.
All Sox Manager, Dan Clouser could say after the game was, “That was one of the toughest losses I’ve ever experienced.”
The Sox never recovered from that devastating loss in game one and in spite of leading game two 3-2 at one point, the Sox lost that game 9-3 and the Cards completed their second straight LCS sweep of the Red Sox with a decisive 12-6 victory in game three.
“No matter what, this group of guys was great this year, they have nothing to be ashamed of,” said Clouser.
Looking ahead to 2006, the Sox will work to reload in the off-season and attempt to bring back the league title again.