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Caleb Everitt’s walk-off hit sends Quakertown to district quarterfinals


The Quakertown Panthers, the SOL Liberty Division champions, took the field on Wednesday as the No. 1 seed in the District One Class 6A baseball tournament.

The Panthers received a first-round bye and won their last 11 straight games. Their opponent, No. 16 Avon Grove, rounded out its season winning eight of its last nine games.

The pregame message to the Panthers from coach Jon Pallone: “Last year we were the 23 seed and we know we can’t take anyone lightly. When a mistake happens we want to minimize them and make the next play.”

“We’re not going to give up because it’s a long game all the way through, and Caleb (Everitt) came through in the end for us,” said Pallone postgame.

Facing Avon Grove pitcher Keith Mintschenko – with Quakertown down 3-2 in a do or die bottom of the seventh – Everitt worked a 2-1 count with bases loaded and two outs. He grounded a hard ball up the center of the field, scoring two runs and winning the game for the Panthers 4-3.

“(It) just feels like a dream right now. I’ve never been so excited about anything. ... With the new field, everything is so new, the crowds are full. It was just awesome,” said Everitt, whose teammates streamed out of the dugout, embracing him in left field following the walk-off hit.

In the first inning, Avon Grove took an early 1-0 lead off a Trent Dosenbach double into center field to score lead-off batter Trevor Dosenbach.

In the bottom of the first, the Panthers attacked Red Devils pitcher Ryan Fuller.

Panther Danny Qualteria, senior shortstop, was hit by the first pitch of the game.

“Danny is always dangerous on the bases. He’s our all-time stolen base leader, and for a reason, single season and career,” said Pallone.

“On the bases, he’s certainly a distraction to the pitchers and an opportunity for us.”

During Matt Marsten’s at-bat, which followed back to back strikeouts for the Panthers, Qualteria stole third base and scored as the throw from Avon Grove catcher Caleb Strawhecker to third base entered left field, evening the game at 1-1.

Everitt came up to the plate with runners on first and second and hit an RBI double into center field.

“I saw two strikes and thought there’s no way I can hit this. But, I saw another one and just put my bat on it, and something good happened,” said Everitt.

Marsten settled in and recorded three up and three down the next three innings.

“Just keep battling. Each battle’s a war. Thankfully, I won some of the big ones. Some I didn’t win early in the game, but I used my defense, let them keep working,” said Marsten.

Avon Grove’s Aidan Casey recorded an RBI-single in the top of the second to score Strawhecker, who led off the inning with a triple.

The game remained tied 2-2 until the seventh inning.

Casey struck out to start the seventh. Jackson Mills lined a triple for the Red Devils that rolled into deep left field. Kenny Askin pinch-hit for Jon LeStourgeon. Askin hit a ball, bouncing fair off the first base bag, to score Mills and put Avon Grove up 3-2.

Cooper Natisin entered the game in relief for Quakertown with one out in the top of the seventh. Carver Perrone took his place in right field and recorded the second out on a diving catch.

Trent Dosenbach began his at-bat with two outs and runners on first and second and lined out to end the inning.

Heading into their last at-bats, “We’re the home team, it’s home field advantage. We want to be sure to get on base. We were playing for one run; one’s a must and two’s a plus,” Pallone said.

“Going into that inning, we knew we were going to get one. It was just about getting that second one. Drawing walks, drawing at-bats,” Marsten said.

Qualteria bunted down the third base line, but was not able to beat out the throw to first.

Cole Reich drew a one-out walk against Grady O’Rourke, who had only allowed two runners on base in the previous two innings he pitched. Natisin hit a single ground ball that sneaked past Casey at third base.

A hit that could’ve been a double play ball put two runners on base for the Panthers.

The Panthers attempted a double steal, but Macen Probition, pinch running for Natisin, was caught at second before a full count pitch to Marsten. Reich remained the sole base runner at third.

“Getting on base, stealing second, great fight all the way through,” said Marsten, who worked a walk.

Mintschenko entered the game to face Gunnar Rahn. Rahn walked, setting up Everitt with bases loaded.

White Quakertown baseball rally towels intensely circled around the stadium as fans anxiously awaited his at-bat.

“My approach walking into that at-bat was it’s just another at bat. You’re in the box, all you got to do is put bat on ball. You need to go into the box with a clear mind,” said Everitt.

Everitt was able to do just that, recording the walk-off hit.

“I’m just happy to be here. This field’s amazing, to finally have a field to call home. I’m very thankful to be a part of this team,” Marsten reflected upon the field and crowd.

The Downingtown East baseball team traveled to Quakertown and scouted its next opponent.

“One of our guys in the huddle said ‘Job’s not done yet,’” Pallone said.

Quakertown hosts No. 8 Downingtown East in the district quarterfinals 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 24.

In the District One Class 6A softball tournament, No. 3 Quakertown faced off against No. 14 Conestoga on Wednesday afternoon. Abbey Wagner, senior right-handed pitcher, hit the sacrifice fly to secure the 3-2 win for the Panthers. Kira Jefferson, sophomore third baseman, scored the winning run.

The Panthers hosts No. 11 Central Bucks West 4 p.m. Friday, May 24.

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