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State Tournament Preview

Seven regional champions and host West Lawn will descend on Owls Field in West Lawn, Berks County to take part in the 2011 ALB PA State Championship Tournament beginning on Tuesday morning.  Here is a breakdown of the tournament specifics and a brief description of each team left playing this week.

Site: Owls Field at Ted Palka Park, West Lawn

Date: July 26-30, 2011

What's at stake: Pennsylvania receives two bids into the 2011 Mid-Atlantic National Regional Tournament to be held next week in Boyertown.  Three teams, Boyertown included, will be playing next week.  If Boyertown is able to finish first or second, the third place team will also advance to the tournament.

Interesting Information: Last year's state champion Spring City and state runner-up Pennridge were both downed on the final day in this year's regionals.  Region 3 representative Bristol is located over four hundred miles from Region 8 champion Millcreek.

West Lawn (Host, Region 2)

The Owls, who participate in the Berks County League in Region 2, are this year's host team.  West Lawn was last year's Mid-Atlantic host where they went 0-2 against the Virginia and Pennsylvania state champions.  The Owls ended the regular season fourth in the seven team league.  In the Berks County League tournament they knocked off fifth seeded Exeter before being defeated by Boyertown and Shillington. 

Boyertown (Region 2)

Boyertown returns to the state tournament by way of their Berks County League and Region 2 tournament championships.  The Bears were no doubt tested in both tournaments, but used timely hitting and a few come from behind victories to propel themselves further into the postseason.  Their lone loss of the league tournament came at the hands of a very talented Shillington team, who Boyertown bounced back to beat later in the day for the title.  Boyertown got solid pitching from its deep staff at the Region 2 tournament.  They were one of just a few of the teams present this week to go undefeated in their regional tournament.  The Bears downed Bath twice, Nazareth, and defending state runner-up Pennridge twice en route to the title.

Bristol (Region 3)

Bristol enters this week tournament on an absolute tear.  They have produced the state's top offense to this point and have beaten a slew of notable and difficult teams on their way to the regional title.  Bristol played their way into the Region 2 tournament by defeating former state and national champion Yardley-Western twice on the final day.  The Lower Bucks champions had the unenviable task of taking part in a regional consisting of defending state champion Spring City and longtime power NorChester.  The team put up double digit runs in each of their five games, going undefeated last week.  To win the regional title, they defeated Wayne, NorChester, Whitpain, and defending state champion Spring City twice. 

Red Land (Region 4)

Red Land enters the state tournament as the the Region 4 champions.  Hailing from the Cumberland County League, the team beat an impressive list of teams to claim the state tournament berth last week.  In their first regional tournament game, Red Land knocked off highly touted Waynesboro.  They followed up that effort with a thrilling victory over Southwestern York.  Red Land suffered its lone setback of the week to eventual runner-up New Oxford in the winner's bracket final.  The team, ever resilient, topped a tough Ephrata to advance to the championship round.  Once there, Red Land rallied to defeat New Oxford twice on the final day, including a dramatic extra inning affair for the title.

Plains (Region 5)

Plains makes their return to the state tournament this week with the Region 5 title in tow.  The top seed from the Wyoming Valley League, the team battled through a tough bracket that included a league rival to make it to West Lawn.  Plains drew the host Bloomsburg on day one of the tournament and posted an impressive ten run victory to advance to the winner's bracket.  Plains played their way into the winner's bracket final by defeating Canton by double digits.  There they met league rival Back Mountain who stormed to a ten run shut out win over the eventual champion.  The team bounced back by beating a solid Green Ridge team to advance to the tournament's final day.  Out for revenge and a return trip to the state tournament, Plains handed previously unbeaten Back Mountain two losses on the tournament's final day.

Blackhawk (Region 6)

Blackhawk is also returning to the state tournament this week after a bit of a hiatus.  The team fought their way to a hard earned Region 6 title last week.  In their first game, the Beaver County team defeated Keystone Oaks before dispatching Uniontown in a mercy-rule win in game two.  Blackhawk advanced to the winner's bracket final where they won a rain soaked game against Bethel Park on Tuesday after the game was suspended Monday.  In their second game of the day, the proverbial 'throw away' game, Blackhawk was downed by league rival New Brighton.  On the final day, Shaler knocked out New Brighton and then Blackhawk took the championship with a close win over Shaler.

West Hempfield (Region 7)

West Hempfield, of the District 31 League, earned their way to the state tournament by way of winning the Region 7.  The team led off the tournament with a shut out victory over Beech Creek.  West Hempfield went on an offensive run over the next two games as they qualified for the regional title game by beating DuBois and Mifflin County, the latter by the mercy rule.  District 31 League rival Bushy Run handed West Hempfield their only loss of the tournament in the throw away game the next day.  On Wednesday, West Hempfield exploded for fifteen runs in a mercy rule championship game win.

Millcreek (Region 8 )

Millcreek continued its dominance of PA's Region 8 by once again winning the regional tournament last week in Saegertown.  The team had it's top postseason showing ever last year when they won two games, including one over eventual champion Spring City, at the 2010 state tournament.  The defending regional champs used solid pitching and great offense in their first three games.  They gave up a combined four runs in three wins over Center Township, Meadville, and French Creek Valley.  After qualifying for the championship round, Millcreek was handed their only loss of the tournament by league rival Albion/Edinboro by a one run margin.  The team's solid pitching continued on Wednesday when they won a close game over French Creek Valley.  They are the only returning regional champion to this week's tournament, though Boyertown was there last year as the host.

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