EMIGSVILLE — There is little doubt that this will be one big week for the Central York baseball team.
The Panthers came into Monday riding a six-game winning streak. It's a week that features games vs. two league rivals, a two-time defending state champion and a team near the top of the Berks County League standings.
Central wanted to get the week off to a fast start.
That didn't happen Monday when the Panthers played host to Red Lion in a York-Adams League Division I battle. But Coach Mike Valencik's club showed the ability to rally back. Down by three runs heading into the bottom of the third inning, the Panthers got their act together in a big way.
A big two-run single from pitcher Dan Sepic started the comeback. A three-run fifth then put the home team ahead before Sepic closed things out. The right-hander allowed five hits over the first three frames, but held the Lions to just four more the rest of the way, and Central earned a hard-fought 7-3 victory.
"Red Lion's a good team and they were hitting the ball well," Sepic said. "They got out to a 2-0 start but we just came back."
The Lions took the early lead with two outs in the first. Drew Landis and Brady Taylor laced back-to-back singles and scored on Mike Godfrey's triple.
"They're a hot team," Red Lion coach Darren Hake said. "They've won a lot of games in a row and the best way to get to a team like that is to get ahead early."
A single and a stolen base by Landis led to the third run in the third inning when Taylor ripped another single to put the visitors ahead 3-0.
With games against West York, Spring Grove and Exeter looming later in the week, the division-leading Panthers (8-3 overall, 6-1 Division I) could ill-afford to stub their toe against a Lions team that was just half game back in the standings.
"This is a huge week for us," Sepic said. "It's going to be a tough week, but we're ready for it."
The rally began in the bottom of the third with the help of some Red Lion generosity. An error, a single and another error moved runners to second and third for Sepic, who rocketed a base hit to cut the deficit to 3-2.
"Big ... big," Valencik said of Sepic's single. "He's definitely on fire."
The Panthers evened the score in the fourth off Red Lion starter Brian Lauer. A couple of singles and a sacrifice bunt were enough for Connor St. Pierre, who earned the RBI on a fielder's choice groundout.
The home team seized control an inning later behind two singles, two walks and two hit batters, which pushed three runs across to make it 6-3.
"We try to stay composed," Sepic said. "We knew we could hit the ball at any time, so we just stayed together and then hit the ball."
Sepic (seven innings, nine hits, six strikeouts, one walk) tacked on an insurance run in the sixth with a bomb over the fence in dead center to make it 7-3. It marked the first home run hit over the fence at Central's field so far this season.
The positive result Monday put the veteran coach Valencik in a pretty good place.
"I'm really, really happy right now," Valencik said. "It's no secret. In high school baseball, when you run good pitching out there every time, you're going to be in every game."
Hake was on the opposite side of the spectrum after seeing his team allow a great opportunity to slip by.
"We left a couple (of runs) out there today," Hake said. "And we counted it up and we gave them 12 free bases today and they gave us one. We have five walks, two wild pitches, two hit batters and three errors. And those free bases definitely hurt us."
Sepic and Adam Reed led an eight-hit Central attacked with two hits apiece. Landis, Taylor and Wyatt Tyson each had two hits each for Red Lion (5-4, 5-3).
Spring Grove 8, Delone Catholic 2: At McSherrystown, Spring Grove was outhit 10-2, but still rolled to the non-league win, thanks largely to six Delone errors and seven Delone walks. Nick Spangler walked three times and scored three runs. Austin Hunt belted a two-run double during the Rockets' five-run seventh that broke open a 3-2 game. Jimmy O'Boyle, Chase Kint and Mike Rider had two hits each for Delone. Spring Grove is now 8-4 overall, while Delone fell to 10-3.
York Catholic 15, Fairfield 0: At York Catholic, in a game shortened to three innings because of the 15-run mercy rule, Jake Krevetski and Brenden Kennedy combined on a one-hitter for the Fighting Irish. Matt McKim (three hits, three runs, two RBIs), Nathan Haney (three hits, four RBIs, one run) and Doug Mills (double, triple, two RBIs, two runs) led the 11-hit Irish attack.
Northeastern 1, Exeter Township 0: Scoreless going into the top of the sixth, Northeastern's Nick Sprenkle (2-for-3) led off with a single, moved to second on a sac bunt from Devin Blymire and later stole third, before Grant Myers came to the plate with two outs. Myers drilled an RBI double to left-center to score Sprenkle for the game's only run. Bobcats' starter Steve Shimkus went six innings, allowing three hits while striking out eight and walking three to get the win. Brady Dolan tossed a scoreless seventh to pick up the save.
Eastern 15, York Tech 3: At Spry, Devin Strickler led the Golden Knights by going 3-for-5 at the plate, including a triple, a double, two stolen bases and one RBI. Clayton Miller picked up a complete-game victory, striking out nine and walking two. For the Spartans, Justin Nell hit a double. Eastern moved to 5-3 in York-Adams Division III and 7-5 overall.
Susquehannock 8, Cumberland Valley 4: At Glen Rock, Susquehannock used a pair of three-run innings to earn the non-league victory. The Warriors (10-1 overall) scored three times in the bottom of the fourth to snap a 2-2 tie and put up another three spot in the sixth. Josh Houser went the distance on the mound for Susquehannock. The right-hander allowed eight hits.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.