MANCHESTER -- Stoverstown may not be, as Manger Tim Thoman admitted, a metropolis of activity.
What it is, however, is a hotbed for good baseball. That has helped the Tigers' skipper collect a nice core of solid ballplayers, some of whom don't even live in the area -- or the state, for that matter.
Monday's starter for Stoverstown in the Central League playoff semifinal series against Manchester was one of those out-of-the-area additions. Jon Patino, who heard about the Tigers from Stoverstown's Jake Hockensmith, made the 90-minute trek from Frederick, Md., to do his part for the club.
While the right-hander didn't have his full pitching repertoire available, what he had was good enough. Patino held the Indians to just four hits over seven innings. He retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced.
The contest might have stretched far into the evening had it not been for a rare miscue by Manchester's Andy Clemens. The Indian second baseman threw wildly on a routine grounder to first, which allowed the eventual winning run to score in a 2-1 Stoverstown victory.
The triumph closed out the best-of-3 series for a Tiger club that won the league regular-season title. Stoverstown swept the playoff series, 2-0.
Now Thoman's club will have a shot to capture the league playoff crown. Stoverstown plays host to the winner of the Mount Wolf-Jefferson semifinal series at 5:45 p.m. Thursday in Game 1 of the best-of-5 playoff title series. The Mount Wolf-Jefferson semifinal series is tied 1-1, with the deciding Game 3 set for Tuesday evening in Mount Wolf.
"Why would (a player) want to come to Stoverstown?" Thoman asked rhetorically of his starter, who closed out Stoverstown's 8-5 victory Sunday afternoon. "I told him that we have a good, competitive young team that makes good defensive plays behind you. If you throw strikes, you can win for our team."
That's exactly what the 22-year old Bellhaven University product did Monday. Limited to just a fastball and a curve, the right-hander was nevertheless able to throw 77 of his 114 pitches for strikes.
"Coming into the game, I didn't really feel that good," he said. "My arm was kind of hurting so I only had two of my pitches today. But I was able to work with it."
The Tigers took the early lead in the first inning against Manchester starter Jason Kelly. A leadoff single, a bunt and a two-out double off the bat of catcher Austin Botts put the visitors up 1-0.
The lead, however, was short-lived. The home team evened the score in the bottom of the first. After Logan Allison singled, Kelly smacked a double to center to make it 1-1.
After that point, it turned into an old-fashioned pitchers' duel. Kelly, who gave up seven hits, managed to work his way out of jams in the second and third innings.
Then came the fateful fifth. After retiring the first two batters, Kurt Krout reached on a bunt single. Krout then stole second and scored when Clemens uncorked a wild toss that would have ended the inning.
"Andy Clemens makes that play 99 times out of 100," Thoman said. "This was the one time that he doesn't make that play. I feel sorry for him because he's a great ball player."
Thoman knew that he could never count out the Indians, who have made a habit of storming back to win playoff series the past two years. Trey McWilliams reached on an infield single in the bottom of the fifth with one out, but Patino retired Logan Allison and Tom Miller on popups to keep the home team at bay.
"We were thinking, 'when is the point where we have to manufacture a run,'" Manchester skipper Dave Miller said. "But we never got the opportunity. They made the plays. They played a great game."
Patino, who struck out nine and didn't walk a batter, retired the Indians 1-2-3 in both the sixth and seventh innings to close out the triumph.
Now Thoman and his gang will get a chance to do something they set out to accomplish -- winning the league, playoff, York County and Colonial titles -- since opening day.
"I want to win," he said. "And we said, 'let's go for the four.' We won the (regular-season) league for the first time in 30-plus years. Now we want to get the playoff championship. And then I want the county championship. Then we'll go for the Colonial championship."
Kelly was saddled with the hard-luck loss despite a strong performance. The Manchester ace struck out five and didn't walk anyone over seven innings.
Both Botts and J. W. Besore (two doubles) collected two hits apiece to lead Stoverstown.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.