Led by the pitching of Andrew Troncale and the bat of Kyle Keefer, H.R. Keefer outlasted Bud De Jong Insurance 3-1 Thursday en route to winning the Babe Ruth League Championship at Kofu Park in Lodi.
Troncale pitched seven innings, giving up one unearned run on three hits while striking out four and walking two. He outdueled De Jong's Brian McMillen, who pitched six innings of three-run, four-hit baseball. He also had three strikeouts.
Keefer grabbed the lead in the first after Neil Simpson led off the inning with a single to left. After two outs and a throwing error, Keefer belted a run-scoring single to right-center making it 1-0.
Troncale made the 1-0 lead hold up until the fifth when Keefer added a pair of runs. During the stretch, Keefer's defense held up strong, led by catcher Jaime Izaguirre, who threw out two De Jong base runners trying to steal second.
McMillen also held up strong. After allowing runners to reach first and second with just one out in the fourth, McMillen slammed the door shut on Keefer, striking out the next two batters to keep his team within a run.
In the fifth, Simpson reached base with one out after being hit by a pitch and moved to second on a groundout. Simpson scored the second run of the game on a throwing error that followed a potential inning-ending grounder to third base by Troncale. With Troncale on second, Kyle Keefer delivered his second RBI single to right-center, extending the Keefer lead to 3-0.
De Jong finally broke through against Troncale in the sixth after Brendon Diggle reached on a leadoff error. Two batters later, Geno Olson hit a roller into center field that scored Diggle to make it 3-1. Troncale escaped any further damage, thanks to third baseman Matt Recker, who snagged a grounder, tagged the bag and threw across the diamond for a double play to close the frame.
Keefer shook off a one-out infield single by Brad Marweg in the seventh to close out the game and win the title.
Kyle Keefer led Keefer's four-hit attack with two singles and Simpson and Izaguirre each singled. Olson, Marweg, and Diggle each had singles for De Jong.
Comments about this story? Send mail to the News-Sentinel newsroom.
To subscribe to the Lodi News-Sentinel, fill out our online form or call our Subscriber Services Department at (209) 333-1400.