GLEN DALE - After four days of brutal 90 degree weather, the top-seeded Pine Richland Rams were not about to let one bad inning put a damper on its 2012 Beast of the East tournament experience.
With some great relief pitching and a will to win that is nothing short of a coach's dream, the Rams battled back from a six-run deficit and claimed the trophy they coveted.
Jamie Switelski scattered five hits and allowed one run in more than five innings of relief and J.T. Riley singled, doubled three times and chased home a trio of runs as Pine Richland fought off some early adversity to post a prized 11-8 victory against the Erie Arsenal in the 16-and-under championship game at John Marshall High School.
While Pine Richland entered Sunday as the No. 1 seed, the Arsenal were seeded sixth and had to win games at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. just to get the opportunity to play for the title.
Erie stayed on a roll early in the finals, jumping to a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Ted DeSanti's single back through the box with two outs got things started before he moved to second on a wild pitch.
Starting pitcher Pat Brennan then ripped a run-scoring ground-rule double down the third base line to give the Arsenal the advantage.
The Rams knotted things up in the home half of the frame with a leadoff walk, Switelski's single and Riley's run-producing single to deep right field. However, Riley ended up in a rundown between first and second and was thrown out.
The Arsenal played station-to-station baseball in the second, getting a boost from the bottom part of the lineup. No. 7 hitter Tyler Manna got it going with a single just ahead of Sean Rutkosky getting hit by a pitch and Anthony Conzilla's single to deep short.
The top of the order took care of the rest. Mitch Fife and DeSanti each pushed runs across with bases-loaded walks while John Finke added an RBI single and Brennan's second double in as many innings chased home another pair.
Erie capped the six-run outburst with a run on a wild pitch that upped the margin to 7-1.
"We have had no problem coming from behind all season long,'' Rams coach Joe Riley said. ''Yeah, we had a bad inning early, but the kids battled back and did their jobs.''
However, it was the Rams coming to life in the bottom of the third and getting everything back. Nick Roth had the only run-producing hit in the frame - a double - with two more scoring on wild pitches and one each on an error, walk and sacrifice fly to knot the count at 7-7.
The Arsenal reclaimed the upperhand in the top of the fifth when Heitzenreiter, who entered the game to pitch in the third, drilled an RBI double to deep left for an 8-7 reading.
But again the visitors on the scoreboard couldn't hold onto it very long. Back-to-back singles to begin the fifth got things going before pinch-hitter Paul Nussbaum's grounder to second was booted allowing both Riley and Anthony Nussbaum to score for a 9-8 Rams lead, their first of the game.
Riley's two-out, two-run single in the sixth provided some insurance. Erie put a pair on with two down in the seventh but could not push across another tally.
''Jamie (Switelski) came in and did a great job on the mound,'' Riley said. ''He has been our workhorse all season long.''
Manager Paul Nussbaum was very proud of the Rams community spirit and how well they play together.
''This is a community team, we don't go out and recruit kids or anything like that, it is one school district and I have been with these kids since they were eight years old,'' Nussbaum said. ''They train together every winter and play together every summer.
''I think the biggest thing is that they just enjoy each other so much and I am looking forward to big things from these kids when they get to the varsity level. This win (Sunday) was the epitome of team chemistry and everybody contributes.''
For Arsenal Coach Brian Fife it was just a matter of his team running out of gas.
''When you play nine games and are playing as the six seed you just get tired after a while,'' Fife said. ''This was our ninth game, and give these kids credit we were in control for all but just a couple of innings this whole tournament.
''Pitching gets tight and kids get tired, but we battled no matter what. You also have to give a lot of credit to that team over there (Rams), they are a pretty great team.''