York Township’s Austin Calaman earned the victory in Sunday’s Susquehanna semifinal clincher over Conrads and helped his own cause by hitting
York Township's Austin Calaman earned the victory in Sunday's Susquehanna semifinal clincher over Conrads and helped his own cause by hitting two home runs. Township will face Red Lion in the finals. (Bil Bowden photo)


NEW BRIDGEVILLE -- York Township's Austin Calaman isn't a player that opposing teams should anger.

Susquehanna League regular-season champion Conrads found out the repercussions of that Sunday afternoon.

A few moments after Conrads' Kevin Keesey drilled a two-run homer off Calaman in the bottom of the first, the right-hander stepped to the plate with a runner on base. With one quick jolt of his wooden bat, the Dallastown High School graduate knotted the contest vs. Anthony Ferrell.

It didn't end there. Calaman repeated the feat in the fourth, immediately after teammate Joel Buchko's homer, which put Township ahead to stay.

York Township third baseman Morgan Markey hits the ground to make a stop.
York Township third baseman Morgan Markey hits the ground to make a stop. (Bil Bowden photo)

With Calaman's team holding the lead heading into the bottom of the sixth, the future York College product had no qualms handing the ball over to Mark Hendrickson. The former major leaguer survived a bases-loaded scare in the sixth, but nevertheless shut down Conrads while recording the save in a 7-5 victory.

The triumph allowed Township to win the best-of-3 semifinal playoff series, 2-1. Township advanced into the best-of-5 league championship series, where it will battle Red Lion. Game 1 is slated to start at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at Nitchkey Field in Red Lion. Only the winner will advance to play in the Tom Kerrigan Colonial York Tournament over Labor Day weekend, along with Conrads.

"He's tough," Conrads manager Chad Kennell said of Calaman. "That kid's a good ballplayer."

Calaman admitted he got a little ticked off after a shaky first inning. He yielded a leadoff single to Kerry Clark to start the game. Clark, however, tried to stretch his hit into a double and was thrown out at second by center fielder Mark Shoff.

With two outs, a fielding error allowed Keesey to step to the plate and the Conrads slugger smacked a pitch over the left-field fence to put the hosts ahead 2-0. After Cole Heffner ripped a double, Calaman got out of the inning by getting Ferrell to fly out to Shoff.

Conrads  Anthony Ferrell, left, gets to first base in time to retire York Township s Mike Wokulich in Sunday s Susquehanna League semifinal game in New
Conrads Anthony Ferrell, left, gets to first base in time to retire York Township s Mike Wokulich in Sunday s Susquehanna League semifinal game in New Bridgeville. York Township advanced to the league championship finals with a 7-5 win over host Conrads. (Bil Bowden photo)

After Buchko lined a single into left to start the second, it was time for the Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches Association Class AAAA All-State First Team selection to exact some revenge.

"I just kind of carried the little momentum that I had from when I was pitching to my at-bat," Calaman said. "It was just anger and momentum and I used that to hit. When I have that anger, it kind of adds an extra almost sense (for me)."

After the rocky start, Calaman settled down to retire 10 of the next 11 batters he faced. During that stretch, Calaman and his teammates extended the lead to 6-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth.

Knaub, who drove in two runs while pitching Conrads to a 4-0 victory Saturday, ended that run by in the fifth, blasting a three-run, two-out homer to make it 6-5. Keesey then reached on a fielding error and stole second, but was stranded when Calaman got Heffner to ground out to third.

Back-to-back doubles with two outs by Morgan Markey and Shoff gave Township an insurance run in the sixth. By that time, Calaman's pitch count was getting pretty high, so Township skipper Jeff Barkdoll turned the game over to Hendrickson.

"The plan was for me to go as far as I could and then it was for whoever to pick up," Calaman said. "Mark wanted it so they gave it to Mark."

From that point on, it was the Mark Hendrickson show. The southpaw put his vast experience to use, but it wasn't easy. Ferrell led off with a single and moved to second when an ailing Travis Hake reached on an infield hit.

After Hendrickson struck out Nick Root for the second out of the inning, he walked Kerry Clark to load the bases. Brandon Miller, who relieved Ferrell on the mound for Conrads in the fifth, hit a grounder to third that Markey fielded and stepped on the bag for the third out.

Hendrickson closed out the victory in style in the seventh. The lefty showed he still has some zip on his fastball, fanning the first two batters before getting Heffner to break his bat on a ground out to second that ended it.

"I knew he had it," Calaman said. "He kind of turned his jets on there in the seventh."

The triumph was a nice reward for a Township side that hasn't reached the Colonial Tournament since 2006. Barkdoll, who's missed several of his team's games over the past week, couldn't be more proud of his gang.

"These guys just play hard everyday," he said. "You can't ask for any more."

Now Township can turn its attention squarely on the black-and-gold of Red Lion. Red Lion won the regular-season title the past four years before Conrads ended that run this season, but needs to win the playoff crown in order to make it back to the Colonial.

While Kennell and his team will spend the next two weeks preparing for the York County Championship Series against Stoverstown, he did offer up a little handicapping of the Township-Red Lion series.

"I think that, right now, Township is pretty hot," he said. "If they play well, they should be able to match up with (Red Lion) pitching-wise. They have a little momentum going now, so it should be an interesting series."

-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.