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2003 Season Record: 39-17-4
MVP – Scott Bond
Outstanding Pitcher – Nick Evangelista & Zach Groh
Sportsmanship/Hustle – Dave Morris
Defensive Player of the Year – Terry Snyder
After a disappointing season in 2002, the 2003 edition of the Berkshire Red Sox was bound and determined to make their mark on the Quad County Optimist League.
Some solid off-season recruiting that brought rookies Scott Bond, Kyle Stover, Zac Schneider, Jeremy Kondisko, Nate Ottaviani and Zach Groh to the team proved to be just what the Sox needed to get them to the top.
The Sox bolstered the leagues best pitching staff that included starters Zach Groh, Dan Runkel, Kevin Walbert and lefty Jeremy Kondisko. Charlie Werner and Nate Ottaviani pitched in from the bullpen in long relief situations which helped make way for set-up man Jim Everhart and closer Nick Evangelista who recorded a league record nine saves.
That pitching staff coupled with some solid defense that was anchored up the middle by shortstop Dave Morris and second baseman Terry Snyder and having Scott Bond run down sure doubles in center field made scoring off the Sox a tough task in 2003.
After going 21-9-2 (.680) in regular season league play, the Sox finished second to Smitty’s Cardinals, but earned a first-round play-off bye.
The Sox faced Jonestown in the semi-finals and swept the defending league champions in the best-of-three game series by scores of 3-2 and 4-3. The latter victory came with the Sox trailing 3-1 going into the top of the seventh and rallying to score three runs for the win.
In the Championship Series vs. regular season champion Smitty’s, the Sox pitching staff did the job again.
In game 1, Dan Runkel threw five solid innings allowing one run before late season legion add-on Jason Ziegler came in to throw the final two innings to shut down the Cardinals and earn the save in a 3-1 victory.
In game two, Zach Groh was all the Sox needed as he tossed a complete game 4-0 shut-out that gave the Sox a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Championship Series.
The Sox couldn’t get the sweep as the series moved back to Reading’s George Field and Smitty’s tagged Sox starter Shawn Seidel for six runs in 3-2/3 innings en-route to an 8-6 win over Berkshire and closing the gap in the series to two games to one.
Rain postponed game four for a day before Berkshire’s Nick Evangelista and Smitty’s Matt Wagner faced off in what everyone knew would be a pitchers duel.
The Red Sox ended up defeating Smitty’s 3-2 in game four of the Quad County Optimist League Championship Series on August 6, 2003 to gain a 3 games to 1 series victory and their first league title since 1999.
Clinging to a 2-1 lead going into the top of the seventh, Smitty’s loaded the bases on Berkshire starter Nick Evangelista (6-2/3 innings, 10 K) with two outs.
Reliever Matt Keller, another late season legion add-on got Smitty’s lead-off man, J.D. Stern to hit a hard grounder to 1st that Berkshire first baseman Robert Ash bobbled allowing the tieing run to score.
Keller then got Kevin Kirchoff to ground out to Dave Morris at short, who stepped on second to get the force on Stern and finally end the inning.
Jason Ziegler was hit by the first pitch of the inning from Smittys’ Matt Wagner. Wagner then struck-out Ash before yielding a single to Terry Snyder. Zac Schneider entered the game to pinch run for Ziegler at second. Dave Morris dropped a bloop single into shallow right field to load the bases for the Sox.
After working the count to 3-2, Berkshire center fielder, Scott Bond drilled a single to center scoring Schneider and giving the Red Sox (39-17-4 overall) their second title in the franchises 14 year history.
The Sox also finished the season ranked third in the final Pennsylvania Semi-Pro Wood Bat Coaches Poll and 4th in the final Mid-Atlantic Regional Wood Bat Coaches Poll.