NEW BRIDGEVILLE -- Over the decades, Conrads has been one of the most successful outfits in the Susquehanna League.
Over the last 10 years, however, Red Lion has become the Susquehanna League's most dominant team.
Manager Chad Kennell and his New Bridgeville club are hoping to turn back the clock this season. If things keep going as they have been this summer, Conrads may very well find itself with another regular-season title under its belt.
After escaping a 6-2 hole early against East Prospect, Kennell's club rallied for an 8-6 victory in the first game of a holiday doubleheader on Wednesday. Conrads followed that up with a 6-2 triumph over Red Lion, behind the standout pitching of starter Brandon Miller.
It made for a memorable Fourth of July for Conrads.
Miller held Red Lion to five hits and two runs over seven inning. Miller's teammate, Travis Hake, broke open a 2-2 tie with a run-scoring single that spurred a nine-hit Conrads attack.
The two victories pushed Conrads back atop the league standings at 19-6, a half game ahead of Red Lion (17-5). The triumph also ended a nine-game losing streak to the defending league champions that spanned more than three years.
"We've been playing good ball," Kennell said. "We're just trying to keep this going as long as we can."
Conrads, which has won 20 Susquehanna League pennants since 1951, last won a title back in 2001. Since then, Kennell's club has only won a league playoff title in 2009. Red Lion, meanwhile, has won six regular-season titles since 2003, including four straight.
Miller knows that there's now a buzz around the team and its chances to finally break its regular-season title drought.
"Everybody is talking about it," he said. "Some of us young guys are starting to mature and we have a couple new guys and everybody is just doing their thing."
Miller, who hasn't had a great deal of past success against Red Lion, kept the visitors in check throughout a hot and humid afternoon. The right-hander allowed a leadoff double to John Wilt, who scored on a wild pitch, in the first, and an RBI triple to Wilt again in the fifth. Miller struck out five.
"He was real sharp," Kennell said. "He kept the ball down."
Conrads, on the other hand, piled up the hits off Red Lion ace Shawn Hedrick. Kerry Clark, one of the new additions to the roster this year, finished with three hits in three at-bats. Clark scored three times, including a third-inning home run that put his team ahead 2-1.
"(Clark and Anthony Ferrell) have been a big boost for them," Red Lion manager Jim Dennes said. "They're playing real good ball, playing really disciplined defense, and they all hit the ball."
The hosts showed off the leather a handful of times against Red Lion. First baseman Kevin Keesey (1-for-3) somehow smothered a shot by Andy Taylor that seemed destined for right field. Keesey gloved the ball and threw to Miller to end the sixth.
The good defense continued in the seventh after Red Lion's Joe Doyle ripped a single down the left-field line. Doyle, however, decided to try for a double and was thrown out by Justin Berkstresser to snuff out any possible rally.
"Our guys made some real nice plays," Kennell said.
In contrast, the visitors and Hedrick were victimized by some costly miscues. After Hake's single gave Conrads a 3-2 lead, Hedrick appeared ready to minimize the damage after getting Keesey to ground a ball to Darren Hake at third. Hake's throw to first, however, sailed past first baseman Daryl Harang, which allowed two more runs to score.
Hedrick, who only surrendered three earned runs, struck out three and didn't walk a batter.
Travis Hake was the only other Conrads player with a multi-hit contest. The shortstop finished with two singles. Berkstresser and Ferrell each rapped doubles.
Notes: Harang will be the only Red Lion player on the Susquehanna League All-Star team this year. Dennes, however, will coach the league in its annual contest against the Central League stars on Saturday, July 21, at 2 p.m. at Jacobus. Conrads, on the other hand, will be represented by six players -- Miller, Clark, catcher Cole Heffner, Keesey, Ferrell and outfielder Josh Knaub.
OTHER SUSQUEHANNA LEAGUE GAMES
CONRADS 8, EAST PROSPECT 6: At East Prospect, Andrew Gideon and Josh Knaub combined for 11/3 scoreless innings in relief to lead Conrads.
Gideon got the win and Knaub picked up the save.
Conrads trailed 6-2 before erupting for two runs in the sixth and four runs in the seventh. Kerry Clark (two hits, two runs), Anthony Ferrell (two hits, two RBIs), Cole Heffner (two RBIs), Justin Berkstresser (two hits) and Kevin Keesey (two runs) led Conrads. Dan Wecker (two hits, double, three RBIs), Clay Chaney (homer, two RBIs), Angel Matias (homer, two runs) and Jason Gigous (two hits) led Prospect.
RED LION 4, JACOBUS 3: At Red Lion, Austin Hinkle pitched a complete-game five-hitter to lead Red Lion.
He struck out five and walked three.
Josh Hildebrand also pitched a complete game for Jacobus, allowing six hits. Hildebrand struck out three and walked seven.
Red Lion plated a run in the bottom of the seventh to win the game. John Wilt led off with a triple and scored on Darren Hake's game-winning single.
John Corso added two hits and two RBIs for the winners, while Daryl Harang added two hits. Brian Hudish homered for Jacobus, while Mike Austin and Ryan Poff doubled.
EAST PROSPECT 6, JACOBUS 5: At Jacobus, Angel Matias belted a three-run triple to cap a four-run seventh inning to lead Jacobus to the comeback victory.
Mike Locondro went four innings in relief to get the win. Ryan Poff (two hits, two-run homer), Brian Hudish (double, triple, two RBIs), Mike Austin (two hits) and Chris Farscht (two hits) led Jacobus.
WINDSOR 11, COLUM BIA 4: At Windsor, Paul Blymire powered the offense for the home team, going 3-for-4, including a three-run homer in the second. He scored two runs and added four RBIs for the game.
Luke Keeny went 3-for-4, including a double, for the winners. Matt Scott (3-for-4, double, two RBIs), Matt Robinson (2-for-4, double), Jared Stump (two RBIs), Chris Liggitt (double) and Cody Godfrey (double) also excelled for the winners.
For Columbia, Josh Wagner went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Jared Shearer had a two-run single.
HALLAM 7, STE WARTSTOWN 0: At Stewartstown, Jake Schoelkoph pitched a three-hit shutout to lead Hallam.
He struck out four and walked one. Joe Pietrobone had two hits and two RBIs for the winners, while Mark Holloway doubled. Taylor Ohl doubled for Stewartstown. Hallam was helped by eight Stewartstown errors.
HALLAM 13, YORK TOWNSHIP 5: York Township collected 12 hits to Hallam's nine, but committed three errors in the loss.
Visiting Hallam was led by Joe Pietrobone, who blasted two homers and collected five RBIs. Morgan Markey (3-for-3, two doubles, grand slam, five RBIs) paced Township.
WINDSOR 3, YORK TOWNSHIP 2: Township took its only lead of the game, 2-1, in the top of the fourth on an RBI double from Mike Wokulich (2-for-3, RBI).
However, Windsor answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame, capped off by an RBI single from Matt Scott. Windsor starting pitcher Chris Stoudt got the win by going the distance, holding Township to the two runs on just three hits. Shawn Wilson (2-for-4, two doubles) and Matt Robinson (2-for-4) paced Windsor at the plate.
FELTON 8, STEWARTSTOWN 5: At Felton, the Ducks exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to erase a 2-1 deficit. Brad Lloyd came to bat twice in the deciding inning and delivered a solo homer and two-run single. Barak Gohn, who turned out to be the winning pitcher, slugged a three-run home run in the sixth. Lloyd and John Smith had two hits apiece for the winners, and Jason Mitchell and Dave Loban supplied two hits each for the losers. Craig Martin cracked a solo homer for Stewartstown, which made things interesting by scoring three times in the top of the seventh, and final, inning.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.