Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category


SPRY — There was a high level of expectation coming into the 2015 season for the Northeastern High School baseball team.

With a number of returning starters back from a team that finished 16-10 and qualified for the PIAA Class AAA state playoffs in 2014, the Bobcats were the hot pick to dominate the York-Adams League.

The Bobcats, however, didn’t quite live up to expectations.

What happens during the high school campaign, however, doesn’t always produce similar results in the American Legion season.

Northeastern is proving that so far.

Winners of six in a row to begin the York-Adams American Legion season, the Northeastern players appear a lot more relaxed, and they’re playing the way everyone expected before the prep season.

“We’re just out here having a lot more fun than we were (in high school),” Jonah Latshaw said. “We’re a lot more relaxed. Just going out and playing baseball, the way we have our whole lives, and not worrying so much about the pressure of going so far, which we had coming into the high school season.”

The high school team finished this season at 11-9, which wasn’t good enough to crack the District 3-AAA field. As a result, any dreams of chasing a state championship were over a lot sooner than anyone anticipated.

“Yeah, we missed it by one or two spots,” Latshaw said. “We were close, but it’s really unfortunate to go out the way that we did. We lost a couple of games late in the year that we probably shouldn’t have and that probably kept us from going.”

Given a chance to make amends, the Northeastern crew is making the most of it during the Legion season. The team leads the York-Adams standings by a half game over South Western (5-0).

“We knew that we just had to come out here and relax,” Latshaw said. “That’s what Legion season is for … just to have more fun, and that’s what we’re focusing on from here.”

If the hot start wasn’t enough good news for the Northeastern Legion gang, the team was lucky enough to be given a bit of a mulligan Monday evening. Against a Dallastown outfit that was 3-1 coming into the evening, Northeastern took an early one-run lead in the first. But a three-run bottom of the frame by the home team put a damper on things.

Fortunately for Northeastern, Mother Nature came to the rescue. With the wind picking up and dark clouds roaming overhead, the umpires called for a delay with Northeastern about to bat in the top of the second.

The delay eventually turned into a postponement after a heavy downpour ripped through the area, causing the teams to hurriedly scatter for cover.

As a result, the 3-1 deficit will be erased when the teams make up the contest at a time and date yet to be decided.

“It’s unfortunate to come all this way,” Latshaw said. “Actually, me and my friend got lost on our way here. We only showed up like 20 minutes before the game started. And then 20 minutes into the game it got canceled.”

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at


PINE GROVE — If the weather had not twice postponed the PIAA Class AAA first-round state baseball contest between District 11 champion Pottsville and District 3 runner-up Spring Grove, the outcome might have been an entirely different story.

Instead, it became a story the Rockets would not enjoy.

It became a story about Crimson Tide right-handed pitcher Eli Nabholz.

Nabholz, who pitched Pottsville to its district title victory last Thursday, would not have been able to throw had the game proceeded as scheduled on Monday. A pair of postponements on back-to-back nights, however, gave the Penn State recruit just enough time to rest and take the ball Wednesday night at Walter Stump Field.

Given the chance to start his team’s state playoff opener, the Pottsville ace lived up to his billing as a highly-coveted college recruit right from the start. Needing just 77 pitches, Nabholz held the Rockets hitless, while striking out 13.

Spring Grove starter Matt Brooks, meanwhile, was nearly as dominant. The junior, however, was saddled with an unfortunate 1-0 loss. Brooks allowed just three singles all game and struck out five, but surrendered a one-out base hit to Connor Hinchliffe that scored Darian Jacoby in the sixth inning.

That was the lone blemish on an otherwise terrific performance by Brooks, but it was nonetheless enough to end Spring Grove’s season.

The Rockets finished at 18-8.

But just think of what might have been had it not been for Mother Nature.

“Eli wouldn’t have been able to come back either Monday or Tuesday,” Pottsville coach Mike Welsh said. “He threw a pretty good amount of pitches (last Thursday) and we weren’t going to run him out there until he was ready. Fortunately he was ready to come back (Wednesday).”

If Nabholz hadn’t been able to start, J.J. Spehrley likely would have gotten the ball for Pottsville. Spehrley is no doubt a quality pitcher, but the truth is he’s nowhere near Nabholz. Mixing in a hard slider with a fastball that regularly eclipsed 90 mph, the Rocket batters had very little luck catching up against the Pottsville standout.

Nabholz struck out the side in the first and third innings. The Spring Grove hitters were only able to get the ball out of the infield on three occasions.

“He’s probably thrown the best that anyone has thrown against us all year,” Spring Grove coach Kevin Stiffler said. “He’s just tough to hit. We talked after the first time through about trying to get our bats started and trying to hit the ball out front more. But I’ll tip my cap to them, definitely, no doubt with the way he threw the ball tonight.”

Had it not been for a pitch that hit Spring Grove outfielder Cameron Sterner with two outs in the sixth, Nabholz would have completed a perfect game. To his credit, Nabholz shrugged off that mistake, as well as Sterner’s steal of second base, by retiring Trent Baker on a comebacker to end the frame.

That was the extent of Spring Grove’s offense, which was unfortunate for Brooks. Spring Grove’s ace had only one clean inning — a one-two-three third — but was effective in keeping the Crimson Tide batters off balance. On any other night, his pitching line of six innings, three hits, one run, three walks and five strikeouts would have been enough to earn him a victory.

Instead, it’s a performance that may get overlooked.

“I give a lot of credit to that program (Spring Grove) and that pitcher (Brooks), who is a heck of a pitcher,” Welsh said. “He kept us off balance all night. He was mixing well and he was pretty dominant himself.”

While the Rockets were clearly disappointed with how things unfolded Wednesday, Stiffler didn’t want them to hang their heads. Instead, he spoke to them shortly after the contest to reinforce just how special the 2015 journey was. That included a York-Adams Division I crown with just one senior starter.

“There’s only one team that is going to be happy when it’s all done,” Stiffler said. “We’re going to look back and remember the memories this year. We were so close to winning our first district title (an extra-inning loss to Donegal). That game could have gone either way. And (Wednesday) … we just ran into a buzz saw (Wednesday). I really feel like we’ve shown that we can play with anybody. These guy have a lot to be proud of. I’m proud of them.”

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at



Roger Czerwinski celebrates after one of West York’s state titles. Czerwinski announced his resignation on Tuesday.

Roger Czerwinski celebrates after one of West York’s state titles. Czerwinski announced his resignation on Tuesday. (FILE PHOTO)

For the past seven years, baseball has dominated Roger Czerwinski’s life.

Serving as the coach of the West York High School varsity baseball team, he missed valuable time being a father to his children and a husband to his wife, while also sacrificing some of his duties as the school’s athletic director. So, after seven years of leading the Bulldogs’ program, he announced that he is stepping down on Tuesday.

“To be honest, my kids are just getting older,” he said. “My son will be a freshman in high school next year. Both my girls are involved in swimming. My younger girl is involved in soccer, and to run a quality program, like I think we have, it’s an 11-months-a-year commitment and I’ve done it for seven years and it’s time to be a dad and a better husband.”

Along with the varsity job becoming available, so too is junior varsity position. That role was previously held by Adam Mealey, who coached the JV team this past season and is moving back to Texas with his family.

Building the program: Czerwinski took over the program at the start of the 2009 season, after the previous coach stepped down because of a job transfer. Since then, all Czerwinski has done is build the West York baseball program into one of the best teams in the York-Adams League and, at times, in the state.

In his seven years at the helm of the varsity program, Czerwinski accumulated a 118-43 (.733) overall record and a 71-25 (.740) mark in Y-A Division II play. Also, within that span, the Bulldogs captured three league titles in 2012, 2013 and this past season.

Perhaps most impressive was the two-year run that he took West York on during the 2012-13 campaigns.

In that two-year span, the Bulldogs amassed a 45-12 record and won back-to-back PIAA Class AAA state titles. In the two seasons since the team’s last state title, West York maintained its stronghold as one of the league’s top programs, going undefeated in league play last season and then winning the Y-A title this year. But, the postseason magic that the team displayed in those state championship years wouldn’t return this season, when the Bulldogs lost their District 3-AAA opener in extra innings to Daniel Boone.

Even with the early exit in the playoffs, the decision for Czerwinski to step down wasn’t definite until early last week. After doing a lot of praying and battling with emotions, he recognized that it was the right time to make this decision and focus on his AD job and his role as a husband and a father.

“There comes a point where, as an athletic director, I need to put more time into my job,” Czerwinski said. “And I need to be there for my other spring sports teams. That, along with my kids getting older … this is the first opportunity I’ve had to be a dad/coach and, to be honest, I’m really enjoying it.”

Filling the openings: With all of West York’s spring sports teams finished with their 2015 seasons, Czerwinski can now turn his attention to filling the void he’s leaving behind.

He and the rest of the West York administration will begin their search for the next head baseball coaches for the varsity and junior varsity teams. However, there is little rush to fill the vacancies. Rather, the school will take the time needed to find the right people for the jobs.

With a school board meeting set for later this month, the likelihood of finding a candidate to put up for approval for either position is unlikely. And with the next school board meeting not until August, it gives Czerwinski and the rest of the administration much of the summer to conduct their search, interview candidates and select the next coaches.

“In a perfect scenario, we have some quality candidates that we can interview in August,” he said. “This way, the candidate can coach fall ball and work with the team over the winter conditioning months. If I had to guess, I’d say (we’ll make our decision) by August or September.”

Whoever is chosen to succeed Czerwinski will have a tough act to follow and face some great expectations.

Czerwinski took over a program that was on the upswing during the early part of this century, before he arrived. He continued to improve it and take it to greater heights.

He was thankful for the support he got from the Bulldog community, but felt that this was the right time to move on. Now, it’ll be up to him to find his successor and choose the right candidate to take over the program and continue to lead it in the right direction.

“The community was always supportive of what we’ve done,” he said. “… I came to the conclusion that there was no better time than now, that I can walk away and hold our heads up high and know that we’ve done some pretty good things and have some pretty special kids in our program and let someone else take the reins for a couple years and separate myself and be a dad.”

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at



PINE GROVE — Spring Grove and Pottsville will try again on Tuesday to play their Class AAA state baseball playoff game.

The opening-round matchup between the Rockets and the Crimson Tide was rained out on Monday after both teams and their fans traveled to the game site in Pine Grove. Tuesday’s game is set for 4 p.m., weather permitting. Showers are in the Pine Grove forecast for Tuesday, according to The Weather Channel.

“It started raining like 3:20 about halfway through BP (batting practice),” Spring Grove head coach Kevin Stiffler said Monday afternoon as a steady rain pelted the field at Walter Stump Stadium. “And then (after the rain started), it was consistent, and it’s been like this ever since.”

Stiffler and the Rockets rode their coach bus home in the rain, and they’ll board the bus again on Tuesday to repeat the 75-mile trip to the Schuylkill County town.

“It’s a little disappointing (that the game couldn’t be played on Monday), but I think it’s a good decision (to postpone),” Stiffler said. “They (game officials) thought maybe there was like a 20-minute window (without rain), but more rain was coming.”

Stiffler felt it was better to come back another day than to try and play and possibly end up with a suspended game.

“I want to get seven innings in,” he said.

Spring Grove is making its first appearance in the state playoffs following an unforgettable run through the District 3 bracket. The Rockets, with just one senior on the their roster, defeated Bishop McDevitt, Greencastle and Twin Valley to reach the title game, where they lost to Donegal, 11-5, in eight innings.

Spring Grove will seek to continue its magical season by winning at least one state playoff game. To accomplish its goal, the York-Adams Division I winner will have to take out the District 11 champion. Pottsville is a formidable opponent with three players who have committed to NCAA Division I colleges.

Connor Hinchliffe will attend LaSalle, Eli Nabholz will enroll at Penn State and Travis Blankenhorn will continue his career at Kentucky. Hinchliffe is a catcher for the Crimson Tide, Nabholz is a pitcher and Blankenhorn is an infielder (shortstop, third baseman). Nabholz’s uncle, Chris, won 37 games while pitching in the major leagues during the 1990s for the Montreal Expos, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs.

Whether it’s Nabholz, or another Crimson Tide pitcher on the mound, Stiffler knows his hitters will have a challenge.

“At this level, you’re going to face good pitching no matter who you face,” he said.

Speaking of good pitching, Spring Grove will call on Matt Brooks.

The junior right-hander is having an outstanding season, having added three District 3 victories to an excellent regular-season resume. Due to PIAA pitching rules, Brooks was not eligible to pitch in the District 3 title game, but the right-hander will be ready for states.

Whenever the Rockets play their first game.

— Reach Dick VanO’Linda at



It’s hard to believe that almost 10 months ago, the 2014-15 high school sports season kicked off with fall sports summer practices.

Now, here we are, almost at the beginning of summer, with only a few select teams left from the York-Adams League competing for state supremacy as participants in PIAA tournaments.

Remaining are the Northeastern boys’ volleyball team, which is in the Class AA semifinals, and the Delone Catholic softball team and the Spring Grove baseball team, which both begin state tournament play on Monday.

Each team’s path to the state playoffs was different.

Northeastern’s Brandon Arentz spikes the ball during the York-Adams League boys’ volleyball championship match against Central York recently.

Northeastern’s Brandon Arentz spikes the ball during the York-Adams League boys’ volleyball championship match against Central York recently. The Bobcats have not dropped a set in a regulation, five-game match this season. Dawn J. Sagert –

The Bobcats are two-time reigning state champs and cruised through every opponent this season, having not lost a set in a regular, best-of-five match. The Squirettes rolled through the District 3-AA softball tournament as the top seed, defeating their three opponents by a combined score of 22-4. And the Rockets clinched a state berth in the Class AAA baseball field by reaching the finals of the District 3 playoffs, before suffering an extra-innings loss in the title game to Donegal.

Still, their goals all remain one in the same — win state gold.

So, here is what each of the three remaining local teams will face the next time they take to the diamond or the court this week.

Northeastern: Words can do little to describe just how dominant the Bobcats have been throughout the course of this season. Having not dropped a set all year, and now back in the AA semifinals, Northeastern simply lived up to the lofty expectations it set for itself by winning the last two state titles.

Thus far, the Bobcats haven’t given up more than 16 points in a set in either state match.

Now, awaiting the Bobcats in the semifinal round is Holy Redeemer. Tuesday’s match will pit two of the top-four AA ranked teams in Pennsylvania against each other, with Northeastern coming in ranked No. 1 and the Royals No. 4 by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association. Much like the Bobcats, Holy Redeemer enters having not dropped a set all tournament. The Royals, the District 2 champion, knocked off District 3 runner-up Lancaster Mennonite on Saturday, 25-20, 25-21, 25-11, to set up the showdown. By comparison, Northeastern beat Lancaster Mennonite in the district title match, 25-17, 25-18, 25-18.

At stake in Tuesday’s meeting is a shot at keeping an impressive run alive for Northeastern and a shot at redemption for Holy Redeemer. Should the Bobcats win, they’ll play for their third straight state AA championship on Saturday, which would be the program’s sixth all time. As for the Royals, they’ve seen their previous two seasons come to an end at the hands of Northeastern, both in the state semifinals.

Tuesday’s match is set for 5:30 p.m. at Exeter Township High School.

Delone Catholic: When the Squirettes hoisted the District 3-AA trophy on Thursday, they became the first York-Adams softball team to win multiple district crowns, ending a 16-year drought between the team’s first one in 1999. They also became the first Y-A team to win a district title in softball since South Western won the AAAA championship in 2006. (Susquehannock won PIAA titles in 2007 and 2008 but did not win the District 3 title in Class AAA in either season).

Delone enters the state tournament boasting an impressive 18-4 record. Like so many strong teams, the Squirettes don’t just have one or two players who carry the load, but an entire lineup, regardless of grade. Manager Don Smith’s group consists of freshmen all the way to seniors and they all contribute in big ways. It was freshman Marlee Lackey that broke open Thursday’s championship game against Kutztown with a bases-clearing double and it was junior pitcher Cassie Rickrode who tossed a complete game to close out the 10-3 victory.

On the other side from Delone on Monday will be District 12 runner-up Philadelphia Academy Charter. Unlike the Squirettes, the Chargers won’t have the momentum of winning their district championship game on their side. Instead, PAC begins its state tournament off the heels of a dreadful 13-0 defeat in five innings to Conwell-Egan in its district championship game.

Last year, Delone edged Conwell-Egan 7-6 in nine innings in the Squirettes’ state playoff opener.

Tuesday’s first-round game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at York College.

Spring Grove: If there was ever a consolation to losing the District 3-AAA title game in extra innings, the state tournament can be just that. The youthful Rockets, who have just one senior, gave up six runs in the top of the eighth inning in Thursday’s game against Donegal to lose 11-5.

Still, Spring Grove enters the AAA field as District 3’s No. 2 seed with a strong 18-7 record and averaging 5.4 runs of offense per game.

Opposite from Spring Grove on Monday will be Pottstown.

The Crimson Tide are fresh off of winning their first District 11 title since 1998, with a 6-3 win over Blue Mountain. Pottsville is led by a strong core of seniors, Eli Nabholz, Travis Blankenhorn, Ty Painter and Connor Hinchcliffe, who have each made substantial impacts in helping the Crimson Tide reach the state playoffs for the first time in 17 seasons. And, more likely than not, the Rockets will probably have to face Nabholz on the mound, who sports a perfect 10-0 record this season for Pottstown. Blankenhorn, meanwhile, has already committed to Kentucky and is projected as a future Major League Baseball draft pick.

First pitch in Monday’s game is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Walter Stump Stadium in Pine Grove.

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at


Spring Grove’s Matt Brooks, seen here pitching in American Legion action, struck out 11 en route to a complete-game win vs. Twin Valley on on

Spring Grove’s Matt Brooks, seen here pitching in American Legion action, struck out 11 en route to a complete-game win vs. Twin Valley on on Tuesday. (FILE PHOTO)

HERSHEY — After the Spring Grove baseball team fell to West York in the York-Adams League playoffs, Coach Kevin Stiffler decided to hold a Saturday practice.

Sensing that his team needed a way to get over a disappointing setback to the Bulldogs, Stiffer felt that getting them back on the field right away was a good start. But it wasn’t the only thing that Stiffler, a former assistant who is in his first year as the head coach of the program, had up his sleeve.

So, before agreeing to take the team out for a Saturday night pizza party, he decided to make a quick stop at the high school’s gymnasium. Stiffler knew that many banners hung on the walls there. But he also knew that one banner was missing. So he decided to point that out to his young squad.

“We went into the gym and I sat the guys down and said ‘just look around,'” Stiffler said. “Look at these banners. What’s missing up there?”

The missing banner was one that marks a District 3 baseball title.

Now for Stiffler and his Rockets, they are closer than ever to filling that gap. Behind the standout pitching of junior Matt Brooks, Spring Grove knocked off Twin Valley 4-2 in a District 3-AAA semifinal contest at Hershey High School on Tuesday.

With the triumph, the Rockets (18-6) will play for the program’s first District 3 title at 7 p.m. Thursday at Santander Stadium in York. The Rockets will square off against Donegal (20-5), which downed Manheim Central 8-2 in the other semifinal.

“We’ve had a good successful run (recently),” Stiffler said. “And that’s something that I’ve been proud to be a part of. But you just have to put complete games together in all phases of the game. And we’ve been saying all year ‘why not us?’ and … I don’t know. It’s these guys. It’s not anything I’m doing.”

A couple of the guys who have proven invaluable all year again played big parts in Tuesday’s triumph.

The first one was obviously Brooks, who wasn’t perfect but was plenty good enough. The right-hander allowed seven hits and two runs, but he stranded seven runners over seven innings. And, oh yeah, he struck out 11.

“We’re more confident than anybody else,” said third baseman Caleb Ruth of the team’s psyche with Brooks on the mound. “He just throws a gem every single game. He throws his heart out there. He’s just been great.”

With the one-two pitching punch of Brooks and senior Anthony Reed, Ruth’s contributions tend to get overshadowed. The sophomore provided a big RBI single with two outs in the second. That run restored the team’s two-run lead after the Raiders pecked away for a run in the top of the inning.

“That’s the difference in the game right there,” Brooks said.

“He had some nice at-bats,” Stiffler said. “And he could have had a couple more RBIs with that one there at the end.”

With runners on first and second in the sixth, Ruth sliced a low liner to right. It took a nice diving catch by Twin Valley’s Kris Otto, who appeared to break late on the ball, to prevent Ruth from adding on those insurance tallies.

The only real trouble that Brooks faced came from the middle of the Twin Valley lineup. Colin Hartey was 2-for-2 with a single, double and a walk in three appearances. Casey Fitzsimmons, the No. 5 hitter, was 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Conversely, the rest of the Raider lineup was just 3-of-20 against Brooks.

“They are definitely some good hitters in that lineup,” Brooks said. “But I was able to get my curve ball hanging down low and they ended up swinging through stuff.”

Derek Hoiles and Buzz Schuchart drove in runs for the Rockets, who collected just six singles off TV starter Adam Alexy. The Raiders, however, committed four errors, one of which directly led to the two runs scored in the first inning.

While the victory Tuesday was nice for Stiffler and his crew, the post-game celebration was a bit subdued.

Perhaps it’s because they’re saving themselves for what could happen Thursday if they defeat the final team between them and their goal of a district banner for the gym.

“This is huge for us,” Brooks said. “Coach took us into the gym a few days ago and we looked at the banners. And nobody has a district banner (in baseball). So we can be the first. And being in there, we’ve seen the stuff that we’ve done (so far this year), but we definitely have more to do.”

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at




York Catholic’s Andrew Polson slides into the bag in a cloud of dust as Upper Dauphin shortstop Tanner Miller fields the ball during a District 3-AA

York Catholic’s Andrew Polson slides into the bag in a cloud of dust as Upper Dauphin shortstop Tanner Miller fields the ball during a District 3-AA baseball semifinal on Tuesday. York Catholic lost the game, 12-5. (JOHN J. PAVONCELLO —
York Catholic center fielder C.J. Burnside makes a leaping catch on an Upper Dauphin fly ball during a District 3-AA baseball semifinal game on Tuesday.

York Catholic center fielder C.J. Burnside makes a leaping catch on an Upper Dauphin fly ball during a District 3-AA baseball semifinal game on Tuesday. York Catholic lost the game, 12-5. (JOHN A. PAVONCELLO —

DILLSBURG — When the final out of the game was recorded on Tuesday, York Catholic’s players gathered up their stuff and walked out of the dugout for the last time this season.

The Fighting Irish were bidding for a spot in the District 3-AA baseball championship game and a berth in the state playoffs.

The Irish, however, were denied, most emphatically, by Upper Dauphin.

The Trojans pounded out 17 hits to hand York Catholic a 12-5 defeat in a AA semifinal game on the Northern York High School field.

The loss stung, but the Irish players will, in the end, focus on what they were able to accomplish in 2015, rather than on the season-ending loss.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” York Catholic head coach Joe Gurreri said. “We probably would have been happy with a .500 season, losing everyone but one senior.”

Instead, the Irish produced a 12-7 season and won a District 3 playoff game (against Delone Catholic) with a starting lineup that sometimes featured a total of six freshmen and sophomores.

“We started in the gym early, and they (the players) really dedicated themselves to the game,” Gurreri said. “When you think an infield of sophomores and freshmen can do what they did, it was fun. I would have loved to advance further, but I’m happy with what these guys did.”

Instead, Upper Dauphin continued its impressive run through the AA bracket.

The Trojans, seeded eighth, opened tournament play with a 4-3 victory over No. 9 seed Annville-Cleona. Upper Dauphin then stunned No. 1 seed Lancaster Catholic, 4-0, before eliminating No. 5 seed York Catholic. The Trojans, a team made up of seven seniors and nine juniors, started off hot this season, winning eight of their first 10, before hitting a six-game losing skid. They recovered by winning six of their last seven games.

“We came through so much adversity this year,” Upper Dauphin head coach Ryan Lentz said. “When the Tri-Valley League split into two divisions this year, we ended up scheduling nine non-league games to fill our schedule. Playing the competition we faced got to us to where we are now.”

The Trojans reached the district final by combining a relentless offense with the pitching of Aaron Cleveland. Cleveland, who departed with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, struck out 10 and walked four. Just one of the runs the right-hander allowed was earned.

Cleveland’s teammates supported him by scoring five runs in the first three innings before blowing the game open by scoring six runs in the top of the sixth. Casey Wise, Cleveland and Travis Dietrich combined for 10 of the winners’ hits. C.J. Burnside had a two-run single for York Catholic, which was held to five hits.

“It didn’t matter where we threw it, they (Upper Dauphin) hit it,” Gurreri said. “They were waiting on the curve balls and turning on them as good as the fastballs. My hat’s off to them. They won the game.”

The game was the final high school one for York Catholic’s Jake Krevetski, who earned a 2-1 victory over Delone Catholic in the district quarterfinals. Krevetski took the loss in Tuesday’s game. During his four-year career, the Fighting Irish won a district title (Class A), finished second in districts (Class A) and qualified for states two years. Krevetski was the lone returning starter on this year’s team that exceeded expectations.

“It was awesome what we were able to do,” Krevetski said. “I think a lot of people didn’t expect us to make it this far. I’m happy with the season.”

Asked what he’ll remember the most about his four seasons with the Irish, Krevetski said: “Playing with a bunch of great guys every single year.”

— Reach Dick VanOlinda at



DILLSBURG — While other successful, senior-laden teams have seen their seasons end this week, one precocious young bunch continues to play like it belongs.

Along the way, a simple question has become a rallying cry for York-Adams Division I champion Spring Grove.

Despite fielding a roster with just one senior and a handful of juniors, the boys from Papertown are creating more and more believers with each passing day.

And they’re doing it sparked by one short question they ask themselves before every game: “Why not us?”

Indeed, why not the Rockets?

After falling behind early in their first-round District 3-AAA contest with Bishop McDevitt, the Spring Grove boys rallied for victory.

While the script was a little different Thursday in a quarterfinal clash with Greencastle-Antrim at Northern York High School, the result was the same.

A two-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning evened the score at 2-2 before freshman Trent Baker blooped in the game-winning single to score Austin Piety, sending Spring Grove to a 3-2 triumph.

The victory not only secures the Rockets a spot in next Tuesday’s semifinals, it also locks up a PIAA state berth for just the second time in program history. In Tuesday’s semifinals, Spring Grove will face Twin Valley, a 7-1 winner over Middletown in Thursday’s quarterfinals. No. 8 seed Twin Valley is 17-6.

“Back when we were 3-3 I said to the team ‘why not us?'” Rocket coach Kevin Stiffler said. “And they kind of just started to get more confident. You never know. You just never know. Baseball is a funny game.”

Late comeback: For much of the game it looked like the fairy-tale season was coming to a close for No. 4 seed Spring Grove (17-6). Despite a fine performance by Matt Brooks on the mound, the 12th-seeded Blue Devils (12-9) were able to plate single runs in the first and fourth innings.

The Rocket bats, meanwhile, were pretty quiet against Greencastle starter Matt Kline, who surrendered just two hits over the first five innings while striking out seven.

The lack of early success may have frustrated other teams, but not Spring Grove.

“I think we’ve been through this a lot,” said Brooks, who allowed one earned run and four hits while fanning six in the victory. “Against Bishop McDevitt we were down 2-0 and came back. Coach is always talking about not getting too high or getting too low, even when you’re down by a lot. And I think we’ve really got a lot of practice with that throughout the year.”

Almost on queue, the Spring Grove bats finally showed some life in the sixth. Back-to-back singles by Caleb Ruth and Brooks were enough to force Kline out of the game. Shortstop Drew Measell, Greencastle’s top pitcher with an 8-1 record, relieved Ruth in a position swap.

The move should have paid off. Measell induced a grounder to short off the bat of catcher Derek Hoiles. Kline stepped on the bag at second for the second out, but threw wildly to first, allowing a run to score while Hoiles moved to second.

Jonathan Sager followed with a single up the middle, which scored courtesy runner Connor Reed to make it 2-2.

Brooks gets win: Brooks, who walked two and was victimized by an error in the first inning, struck out the side in a dominating seventh.

“Matt Brooks threw a very nice ballgame,” Stiffler said. “He really only threw one bad pitch all game. I thought he threw outstanding. I’d love to know what he was throwing there in those last two innings because I felt like he was getting stronger.”

Quin Ambeault collected half of the Blue Devils’ four hits, while Spencer Meyers had Greencastle’s only RBI on a single in the fourth.

Spring Grove is now the top seed left in the draw. Early exits by No. 1 Shippensburg, No. 2 West Perry and No. 3 West York have paved the way for Stiffler’s team to become newly minted as favorites.

That fact may have some fans asking if the Rockets can win it all. While that’s a valid question, perhaps the more important one will be the one that Stiffler and company ask themselves on Tuesday.

Why not us?

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at


McSHERRYSTOWN — Because Jake Krevetski had control of his curve ball, York Catholic was able to seize a District 3-AA playoff victory over Delone Catholic on Thursday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish senior outdueled another senior right-hander, Hunter Keith, helping the Irish earn a spot in the district semifinals with a 2-1 victory.

York Catholic will clash with Upper Dauphin on Tuesday, with the winner advancing to the district title game. The time and location for the semifinal contest have not yet been announced.

Thursday’s game was the rubber one between York Catholic and Delone Catholic this season. Neither of the previous contests was a pitchers’ duel. The Fighting Irish won the first game, 13-5, and the Squires took the second game, 11-1. Krevetski worked in all three games.

“The first game, I threw pretty good, the second game my curve ball wasn’t working like it was today” he said. “I threw a lot of curve balls today. They were swinging and missing, and when they did put the ball in play, we were making good plays.”

Krevetski’s teammates backed him with near-flawless play (one error).

York Catholic head coach Joe Gurreri called Krevetski’s performance “outstanding”

“We talked about throwing the first pitch for a strike and making sure he got his curve ball over. Last game, we didn’t do that. Today, we did,” Gurreri said.

Krevetski struck out five and walked two while allowing six hits. He used 98 pitches. Keith recorded six strikeouts and three walks and gave up five hits while delivering 82 pitches.

Delone coach Doug Arnold said that Krevetski’s ability to throw his curve ball for strikes kept his hitters off balance.

“He was throwing it in any count,” Arnold said. “We only hit two or three balls hard. Hats off to him.”

Along with his pitching, Krevetski delivered a leadoff double to left-center field in the second inning with his team trailing, 1-0. Delone left fielder Mike Rider almost made a shoestring catch on Krevetski’s drive, but when Rider hit the ground, the ball popped out of his glove. Andrew Polson went in as a courtesy runner for Krevetski and Polson ended up scoring the tying run on a Brenden Kennedy’s bunt, followed by a throwing error.

York Catholic broke the tie in the fifth. Ryan Deporter delivered a one-out single to left and Dillon Hippensteel followed by beating out an infield hit. An error on the play allowed Polson (who went in as a pinch runner for Deporter) to take third . The next hitter struck out for the second out, with Hippensteel taking off for second base. Delone’s catcher threw the ball to second, but the Squires weren’t able to get the tag on Hippensteel and Polson raced home with what turned out to be the winning run.

York Catholic, which returned just one starter (Krevetski) from last year’s team that advanced to the state Class A playoffs, is one victory away from qualifying for the state AA playoffs. (The Fighting Irish changed classes this season).”

“It’s very gratifying to see what these guys have done this season,” Gurreri said. “Our whole infield is freshmen and sophomores. These kids are baseball players. They work hard and they love to play baseball.”

Krevetski, who will attend York College, ranked the victory second only to winning the District 3-A title in 2013.

“It’s been fun seeing the new guys and seeing what we what could do this year,” he said.”

York Catholic will carry a 12-6 record into Tuesday’s game. Delone Catholic, which won the York-Adams Division IV title, closes its season at 13-9.

Austin Roth and Mike Rider each had two hits for the Squires, and Keith pitched well enough to win most days.

“I thought he (Keith) was outstanding,” Arnold said. “He mixed his pitches well.”

— Reach Dick VanO’Linda at

Spring Grove finished what it started on Tuesday afternoon.

The Rockets completed its District 3-AAA first-round baseball game against Bishop McDevitt with an 8-2 victory.

Spring Grove entered the day with a 6-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning after play had been suspended by rain on Monday.

The Rockets added two more runs in the fourth on Derrick Hoiles’ two-run single on Tuesday to account for the final margin.

No. 4 seed Spring Grove improved to 16-6, while No. 13 seed McDevitt finished at 11-10.

The Rockets will now face 12th-seeded Greencastle in the quarterfinals at 4 p.m. Thursday at Northern York. Greencastle (12-8) upset fifth-seeded Lampeter-Strasburg on Monday, 4-2. Spring Grove beat Greencastle during the regular season, 8-1.

Matt Brooks worked the first four innings on Monday to get the win, allowing two unearned runs on two hits with six strikeouts. Anthony Reed finished with three shutout innings for Spring Grove on Tuesday, allowing one hit and fanning three. Hoiles finished with two hits, while Jon Sager scored two runs and Austin Piety drove in two runs.


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