HANOVER -- Cody Kauffman returned to the Diller Field mound on Tuesday -- the place where he struggled mightily six days before in an 18-1 loss to Hanover.
The Spring Grove right-hander was determined to atone for the previous outing by helping his team stay alive in the Region 4 Tournament.
Kauffman came through in the pressurized win-or-go-home-contest in a huge way by pitching his best game of the season.
He recorded six shutout innings to help Spring Grove knock out Red Land in the double-elimination event, 6-1.
Spring Grove, 3-1, will take on defending champion Ephrata, 3-1, at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The winner will then play Hampden, 3-1, at approximately 3:15 p.m. for the title and a berth in the state tournament.
Kauffman, who effectively mixed a fastball and a curveball, struck out eight and walked three. He had only one 1-2-3 inning, but forced Red Land to strand eight baserunners.
"I just wanted to get back in there, after the Hanover outing. I wasn't feeling too good about myself," Kauffman said. "My arm felt a lot better than it did against Hanover. I had to step up after the game (Monday). Nick (Spangler) threw really good, and I wanted to follow him."
Kauffman said the curveball was his most effective pitch.
"I just kept it down in the zone, and they went after it," he said. "My defense helped me out a lot. There were a lot of ground balls and fly balls."
Spring Grove played errorless ball behind Kauffman.
The offense did its part, too, by providing him with a four-run cushion in its first at bat.
Spangler opened the bottom of the first by drawing a walk, and Dalton Hoiles followed with a single between shortstop and third base.
Consecutive walks to Levi Krause and Will Maughlin forced in one run, and Trevor Troxel followed by stroking a two-run, opposite-field single to left.
Austin Hunt brought home the final run of the inning with a single to left field.
Hunt finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and is batting .462 (6-for-13) for the tournament.
"Austin Hunt had some huge hits early on," Spring Grove manager Matt Spangler said. "I'm very pleased with how he's performed the whole tournament. The big key today was our ability to score runs with runners in scoring position."
Matt Spangler was, not surprisingly, thrilled with Kauffman's performance.
"He had a heck of an effort. I'm very ecstatic," he said. "Cody doesn't have a blazing fastball, but when he mixes his curveball in and throws the fastball, it keeps the hitters off balance. After that first inning (Red Land collected three hits in the opening inning), he settled in, mixed his pitches and spotted his fastball."
Levi Krause followed Kauffman to the mound, and although he inherited a runner on second base, Krause pitched two scoreless innings. Aaron Becker worked the ninth inning for the winners.
Hoiles had two hits for Spring Grove, and Troxel scored three runs.
Spring Grove, 17-8 overall, will now focus on trying to capture its first Region 4 crown. The York County team will need to win two games on Wednesday to accomplish its goal.
"Pitching wise, we're set up pretty good," Matt Spangler said. "We'll go with Hoiles to start, and Levi (Krause) has all of his innings back now. It's pitching and defense. It's something that hopefully we can continue."
TWO LOCAL TEAMS IN JUNIOR REGIONAL EVENT: Two teams from the York-Adams Junior American Legion Baseball League will compete in regional tournaments beginning on Saturday.
Central York will take on Moscow in the West Lawn Regional, near Reading, and New Oxford will face Springfield in the Pottstown Regional.
The winners of the regional tournaments will advance to the state tournament at Homer City.
-- Reach Dick VanOlinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.