Now the wait begins.
In a must-win contest Monday night at Manchester, the Northeastern American Legion baseball club accomplished exactly what it needed.
With the return of Josh Writer, Coach Mark Sargen's club broke a scoreless tie when Jesse Sargen stroked a two-run triple. Sargen, the team's shortstop, also slugged a two-run homer in the seventh, which backed up Writer's standout performance on the mound.
The 6-1 victory over Dallastown allowed Northeastern to position itself for a playoff berth. Sargen's club finished the regular season with a 8-6-1 mark. Northeastern must now wait for teams such as Red Lion, Pleasureville and Wrightsville to complete their seasons to see how the playoff situation shakes out. The top eight teams in the league make the playoffs.
Both Sargens were confident with the return on Writer. The right-hander had missed five games, and Northeastern lost four of them, putting the team on the playoff bubble.
"He just came back from the beach," Jesse Sargen said. "His arm was 100 percent. He said he was feeling good in the beginning and he showed it."
Coach Sargen likes what Writer, who just graduated from Northeastern High School, brings to the club.
"He's a work horse," he said. "I have a lot of confidence in Josh. He threw a good game, kept us close and then he shut them down. He's done that all year for us."
Writer and Dallastown starter Cyrus Tome were locked in a pitchers' duel for much of the contest. Neither club could muster much until Northeastern mounted a rally in the fifth off a tiring Tome.
A walk and a single set up Jesse Sargen up for the first big blow of the evening. Tome threw the left-handed hitter a low fastball that Sargen cracked down the right-field line for an easy triple.
"I like the ball low and that's where he put it," Jesse Sargen said. "I can pull the ball down the line and as soon as that hit the ground, it just took off."
Trae Byers plated Sargen with a run-scoring double before Writer made it 4-0 with a single up the middle.
"Josh is big on the offense too," Coach Sargen pointed out.
Writer yielded a run in the top of the sixth, but Jesse Sargen responded in the bottom half of the inning with a moonshot home run over the right-center fence to close out the scoring.
Sargen, in fact, was surprised that Tome was allowed to face him in the sixth. Immediately after Sargen's blast, Tome was lifted in favor of James Streibig.
"I thought he was (tiring)," Jesse Sargen said. "He pitched one inning Sunday (in the All-Star games) with us. There I thought he was throwing his best. I was a little (shocked) that they left him in that last inning there. He threw a lot of pitches."
Now Sargen (3-for-4, four RBIs) and his teammates will get some well-deserved time off that will give them a chance to root against the teams that are on the bubble for the eight-team, double-elimination playoffs that begin next week.
Coach Sargen believes that if his team can find a way in, it will be a club that nobody wants to face. Despite the 8-6-1 record, Sargen pointed out that four of those losses came without Writer in the lineup.
"If we can make the playoffs, we're going to be dangerous," he said. "And our kids know it too. We match up well against the other teams."
It will only be a matter of time to see if Northeastern clinches a much-coveted berth.
"We just got to wait and see," Coach Sargen said.
Dallastown was led by Micah Streibig and Ryan Tracy, who each collected a pair of hits.
Dallastown fell to 9-6.
OTHER LEGION GAMES
YORK 3, SUBURBAN YORK 0: At York Suburban High School, York struck for all of its runs in the third inning to reward its pitcher, Ben Rodriguez, who shut out the home team on three singles. Colby Evans opened the deciding inning by drawing a walk, and following a strikeout, Andrew Mackley doubled Evans home with the game's first run. After a groundout, Cristhian Miranda stepped up and belted a two-run home run. Rodriguez struck out one and walked one. Brennan Weinstein was outstanding in defeat for Suburban York. Weinstein recorded 13 strikeouts and just two walks. He allowed four hits, three coming in the third inning. Roberto Rosado delivered two of York's four hits.
RED LION 9, DOVER 4: At Dover, Tyler Myers doubled and tripled and drove in four runs to lead Red Lion (10-4). Evan Bittner added two hits and two RBIs for the winners, while Brady Taylor and Austin Taylor each added two hits. Cody Godfrey pitched six full innings to get the win. He struck out nine and walked four. Devin Gohn pitched a scoreless seventh. Curtis Harman had two hits for Dover (5-8-1).
SPRING GROVE 8, WRIGHTSVILLE 5: At Stoverstown, Will Maughlin drove in three runs to help Spring Grove improve to 10-1. James Guiseppe had four hits in a losing cause. Wrightsville couldn't hold on to a 5-3 fourth-inning lead. Levi Krause pitched a compete game to get the win. Krause also had a double and an RBI single at the plate.
SHILOH 7, GLEN ROCK 4: At Shiloh, Ryan Dellinger pitched a complete game to lead Shiloh to victory. He allowed 13 hits and struck out seven. Shiloh erupted for six runs in the fourth inning, batting around and producing five hits, while taking advantage of some Glen Rock errors. Glen Rock fell to 10-6.
-- Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.