GLEN ROCK -- When you think of Stoverstown baseball, a few things come quickly to mind.
First and foremost is the former longtime manager of the Tigers, Curly Holtzapple.
Then there's the ageless Eric Dowling, who's still going strong in the midst of his 30th season with the club.
The Tigers have also won a number of Central League playoff titles over the years and are consistently among the top teams in the standings year after year.
One thing Stoverstown hasn't been known for recently, however, may come as a surprise -- winning regular-season titles. The Tigers haven't won the league regular-season crown in more than 31/2 decades, last winning in 1976.
That drought may soon
Stoverstown continues to be the hottest team in the league this season. After a rocky first-inning, Tiger starter T.J. Thomas settled down and held Glen Rock to just two runs over 51/3 innings. Stoverstown's No. 3 and 4 hitters did their part. Austin Botts and J.W. Besore each blasted two-out three-run homers to lead the Tigers to a 7-2 victory over Glen Rock.
The triumph marked the 14th in a row for a Stoverstown outfit that is threatening to run away with the regular-season race. The Tigers (15-1) now lead second-place Jefferson (11-6) by 41/2 games.
"Ricky (Dowling) and I have been around for ... what ... this is my 33rd year," Stoverstown manager Tim Thoman said. "We've won the playoffs championship a few times, but never the league."
Thomas, a left-hander who graduated from Delone Catholic back in 2005, had trouble locating his off-speed pitches early. That got him into trouble in the first, when he yielded a two-out single to Brad McCullough that put Glen Rock (9-9) ahead 2-1.
"I was trying to get my off-speed pitch over and they were just sitting on it," Thomas said. "I gave up two hits in the first-inning. After that I just went to the fastball. I started working the way I should have from the start."
Thomas only allowed two more singles the rest of his outing. He struck out six, including a rare four-strikeout performance in the third.
"I've never done that before," Thomas said. "We had a dropped third strike (that allowed the batter to reach first), but that was a tough pitch to handle. It was a curveball that just got by him."
After Thomas allowed another single to McCullough (2-for-3) in the sixth, Thoman summoned Brett Harman to close things out.
"My key was to try to get as much out of (Thomas) as I could," Thoman said. "Having Harman available, I was trying to go as long as I could with T.J. I was a little skeptical about his pitch selection in the first inning, but fortunately he came back and battled out of it."
Harman, who recently graduated from the University of Maryland, has been nearly unhittable this season for the Tigers. He entered the game with just one hit and one walk allowed over 14 innings. While he surrendered just his second hit of the season in the seventh, that was the only blemish en route to his first save of the season.
"He's been lights out," a smiling Thomas said of Harman.
If the recipe of solid pitching and defense, plus timely hitting, continues throughout this summer, Thoman may finally get to know the feeling of winning the league regular-season title. Thoman understands that the group he's assembled is doing things not even he could have imagined.
"We don't get down on ourselves," Thoman said. "Someone is there to pick everybody up. They're confident."
Thoman's club will get a chance to put some more distance between itself and a Jefferson team that had been nearly as hot as the Tigers of late. Jefferson had an eight-game winning streak snapped by Manchester Tuesday, but will play a doubleheader this Saturday at Stoverstown.
Kurt Krout and Botts collected two hits apiece for the Tigers. Glen Rock starter Casey Hood, who stuck out six, picked up the loss after surrendering eight hits.
OTHER CENTRAL LEAGUE GAMES
PLEASUREVILLE 9, DOVER 6: At Dover, Pleasureville's Eric Meisenhelder put his team ahead for good when he cracked a two-run home run in the fifth to snap a 3-3 tie. Todd Meyer, Matt Meyer and Scott Ream each had two hits for the Hawks. Dustin Kuhn and Brandon Scott collected three hits apiece for the Dover, and Kuhn drove in four runs. Travis Shaffer pitched the first six innings to earn the victory. Shaffer struck out two, walked two and allowed 10 hits.
MANCHESTER 9, JEF FERSON 3: At Manchester, the home team plated four runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back. Tom Miller led the offensive attack, going 3-for-3, including a triple and a double, to go with three RBIs and three runs scored. Also for Manchester, Tre McWilliams went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, while Andy Clemens and Logan Allison each doubled. Jason Kelly picked up a complete-game victory on the mound, striking out eight and walking one. For Jefferson, Joe Jasinski went 2-for-3, including a triple, with two runs scored.
MOUNT WOLF 5, SHILOH 3: At Shiloh, the visitors trailed 3-1 going into the top of the fifth, when they plated four runs to take the lead for good. Dan Dierdorff highlighted the fifth, with a two-run double. Kyle Cook picked up the complete-game victory on the mound, striking out seven and walking two. For Shiloh, Dillon Schwartzer went 2-for-3, including a double, with two runs scored.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.