EMIGSVILLE — Perhaps it was a bit of good luck that Northeastern left-hander Logan Wunsch was given the chance to start the York-Adams American Legion playoff game Thursday evening against Pleasureville.
Typically a good fastball-hitting team, the home-standing Pleasureville batters grew more and more frustrated against the soft-tossing Wunsch as the game wore on.
By the end, they were left with just one hit off the southpaw.
Wunsch's mastery was backed up by a small-ball offense. A pair of suicide squeezes and a wild pitch scored three runs in the second frame off Pleasureville starter Tyler Lingg. No ball left the infield during that stretch.
While Wunsch walked six batters, his defense picked him up every time he needed it. There were two big double plays, one in the bottom of the first and another big one in the sixth, that stunted any chances the home team had of a comeback.
The end result was a 4-0 victory for No. 5 seed Northeastern, which will face No. 1 seed Spring Grove at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Spring Grove High School in a winners' bracket semifinal. Spring Grove was a 4-1 winner over Dover on Thursday. Pleasureville will play host to Dover at the same time in a losers' bracket elimination game.
"That was just incredible," Northeastern coach Ken Kopp said. "We played great defense, we played small ball there to get the lead and Logan just kept us ahead in the game. We knew that we needed to throw somebody off-speed against them and that's pretty much what Logan does."
Wunsch managed to put down the home team in order just one time — the fifth inning. Turns out he didn't need to worry, even with his six walks. The defense made the plays all night.
"Steve (Shimkus) was calling the pitches and we pretty much had them off balance all night," Wunsch said. "Ryan (Shindler) made a phenomenal play there in the sixth inning that really shut them down and quieted them on the bench."
Shindler, who was just a freshman at Northeastern this past school year, snagged a line drive off the bat of Garrett Kirkpatrick with a runner on first in the sixth inning. The runner didn't stop in time to get back to the base before Shindler threw to first to complete the twin-killing.
"He's just a freshman at shortstop and he played a great game," Kopp said.
The biggest reason the visitors are moving on came because of their execution during the three-run second. A walk to Shimkus and back-to-back bunts that turned into singles from Drew Wolfgang and Kenny Kopp loaded the bases. The bunts didn't stop at that point. Both Devin Ream and Wunsch dropped down consecutive suicide-squeezes to plate the first two runs of the contest.
Kopp later scored from third on a wild pitch to cap a rally that didn't see a ball hit any farther than 20 feet from the plate.
As it turns out, a lot of that was more by necessity. Kopp's team played short-handed.
"We're down a lot of our key players," Coach Kopp said. "Devon Blymire, Brady Dolan and Brayton Bare are all playing baseball somewhere else and we won't have them until next week."
Those absences, however, have opened the door for a lot of the Northeastern JV players to step into big roles with the Legion team. And those players, who watched as the school's varsity team advanced into the PIAA state tournament, have shown to be quite capable.
"Tonight we only had a couple guys from the high school team," Kopp said. "The rest were bench players or JV players. This team is mostly guys that are 16 or 17 years old ... basically a bunch of sophomores here. And that just goes to show you the kind of teams that Northeastern is going to have for the next two to three years."
Walker Montieth's single to start the second inning proved to be the only hit off Wunsch, who needed just 96 pitches to finish off the victory.
Wolfgang led the Northeastern offense, which collected just five hits off Lingg, with a pair of singles. Shindler, who reached base twice on walks in three plate appearances, scored a run in the seventh after stealing second before coming all the way around the score on a pair of errors by Pleasureville.
OTHER LEGION GAMES
Southwestern 4, Hanover 2: At Hanover, No. 6 seed Southwestern upset No. 3 seed Hanover behind a stellar complete-game pitching effort by Chris Mills. Mills allowed a two-run homer to Hanover's Ryan Kehr in the first inning. After that, Mills allowed just one other hit — a double by Jared Peterman. Jimmy O'Boyle had two hits, including a double, for Southwestern, with one RBI and one run scored. Bishop Elder also doubled for the winners. Peterman pitched a complete game in a losing effort, allowing five hits. Hanover committed four errors and two of Southwestern's runs were unearned. Southwestern played errorless defense.
Spring Grove 4, Dover 1: Scoreless through four innings, host Spring Grove loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the fifth inning for Devin Fisher, who plated a pair of runs on a two-run single to left. Spring Grove scored two more on fielder's choice RBIs. Dover's lone run came in the sixth inning when Steve Stoy scored on a single up the middle.
Glen Rock 3, New Oxford 2, suspended: Tied at 2-2 heading into the seventh inning, Glen Rock plated a run to take the lead. The game was then suspended with two outs in the top of the seventh inning and will be finished Friday at 6 p.m. at New Oxford.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.