SPRY — Zach Luman may not have a wand or a top hot, but that doesn't mean the York Township right-hander isn't a bit of a magician.
And if Luman decides to put on another magic show, like the one he performed on Thursday night, there's a good chance that the Susquehanna League leaders from Hallam won't be in a hurry to see it again.
Luman constantly skirted trouble, with the go-ahead run on third base four different times — including twice with no outs — on Thursday evening when host Township clashed with the Express.
Failing to cash in on all of their numerous chances, Hallam was unable to prevent a hard-luck defeat for veteran starting pitcher Shawn Hedrick. Hedrick hung a slider to Joel Buchko (2-for-3) in the bottom of the sixth inning, one of the few mistakes he made all night.
The Township backstop — with all of his aches and pains aside — drilled that hanger over the fence in left to put the hosts ahead. Luman finished things off with a 1-2-3 seventh inning to close out a thrilling 2-1 victory for the home side.
"I saw one fastball and fouled it straight back," Buchko said of his game-winning at-bat. "Other than that it was all off speed. I was just trying to see something up and I got one up and I hit it."
Buchko's blast made a winner of Luman, who pitched in a very Houdini-like fashion. The Express (19-5) left nine batters on base. Luman (six hits allowed, three walks, four strikeouts) shut the door each time.
"I don't really want to change my approach and worry about (baserunners) too much," he said. "I find that if I worry about it too much, I kind of psyche myself out. I just try to keep making my pitches, hit my spots and I have a lot of trust in Joel."
Never was that put more to the test than the fourth inning, when a double, single and a walk loaded the bases with no outs. A strikeout was followed by a pop-up that was caught in center by Austin Quinones, who turned it into an inning-ending double play after catching the runner off first.
Luman's flair for the dramatic was again pressed into action in the sixth when Hallam's Jerron Shimmel, who collected half of his team's six hits, smacked a triple to lead off the frame.
With the infield in, Luman got a groundout to third for the first out of the inning. After a walk to Angel Matias, Luman induced a foul out and a fly out to center to again keep the Express off the board.
"That can kind of take the wind out of your sails a little bit," Township manager Jeff Barkdoll said. "One thing about Zach is that he doesn't back down and he trusts his guys behind him. And that's a winning combination."
Walking off the mound after another miraculous escape felt a little like heaven for Luman, who was 2-0 as a freshman for Messiah this past spring.
"That felt great," Luman said. "I just knew that we'd get a run and it would come down to the last inning."
Luman's hunch came true with Buchko, perhaps Township's biggest home-run threat, finding a pitch in his zone.
"That was just awesome," Luman said. "Joel can do that at any time."
That blast also helped out a weary Township manager Jeff Barkdoll, who admitted to his club afterward that he can get a good night's sleep after knocking off the league leaders. His comment about sleep was a reference to a disappointing loss Wednesday against last-place Stewartstown.
"It's not that we played a bad game (Wednesday) night, and hats off to Stewartstown," Barkdoll said after his third-place team improved to 16-11 on the season. "They played a great game. You can't take anything for granted in this league and Stewartstown's record is not really reflective of what that team is. And then we come out tonight and make the plays. It's just baseball."
Hedrick pitched well in defeat. The veteran surrendered four hits, walked one and fanned six. He was victimized in the first inning after a one-out error allowed Zach Zambito to reach. That hurt when Matt Attig crushed a double to the fence to tie the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first.
The Express took the early lead after Shimmel singled and scored on a hit-and-run double by Jon Benchich in the top of the first.
OTHER SUSQUEHANNA LEAGUE GAMES
Conrads 8, Windsor 2: At Windsor, Conrads' Josh Knaub pitched a complete-game eight-hitter to get the win. He escaped a bases-loaded one-out jam in the first and a bases-loaded no-out jam in the third. Conrads was paced by Joe Yourgal (2-for-3, RBI), Kevin Keesey (two doubles, two RBIs), Brandon Miller (two RBIs) and Matt Jordan (2-for-3, three runs). Roy Walker was 2-for-4 with a homer for Windsor, while Paul Blymire and Shawn Wilson added two hits apiece.
Felton 1, Red Lion 0: At Felton, Brian Crumbling and Adam Whitman combined on a four-hit shutout. Crumbling got the win and Whitman got the save. Tyler Butcher pitched a complete-game five-hitter in a losing cause. Brady Taylor went 2-for-3 for the winners, while Seth Hamill doubled and scored the game's only run in the third inning on a throwing error. Cash Gladfelter doubled for Red Lion.
Stewartstown 4, Jacobus 3: At Jacobus, Stewartstown won for the second-straight night. Craig Martin went 4-for-4 to pace the winners. Kenny Petrosky homered for Stewartstown, while Jesse Brittain pitched five shutout innings before Craig Martin came on in relief. Drew Kelley had two hits for Jacobus.
CENTRAL LEAGUE GAMES
Stoverstown 6, Glen Rock 5: Up 4-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, host Stoverstown scored two more in the frame on a pair of Glen Rock errors and that proved to be the difference. Glen Rock's Troy Miller cleared the bases on a three-run double in the top of the sixth inning to make it a one-run game. But Stoverstown reliever Cody Kauffman picked up the save by holding Glen Rock scoreless over the last 1 1/3 innings. Nick Spangler (3-for-4, run scored) and Kurt Krout (2-for-3, RBI, two runs scored) led the Stoverstown offense. Brian Procopio (run scored), Scott Merkel (two RBIs) and Alex Coombes (run scored) each had a pair of hits to pace Glen Rock.
Mount Wolf 15, Dover 1: At Mount Wolf, Brandon Scott led the home team, going 4-for-4, including two doubles, with four runs scored and one RBI. Dan Dierdorff (2-for-4, three runs scored, one RBI), Patrick Moriarty (3-for-5, three RBIs), Grant Myers (two doubles, two runs scored), Devin Blymire (2-for-4, one RBI) and Thomas Skehan (double, two RBIs, one run scored) also excelled for the Wolves. On the mound for Mount Wolf, Mark Burnside threw a complete game, striking out nine and walking one. For Dover, Valentin Ramos doubled with one RBI. First-place Mount Wolf improved 23-4.
Shiloh 6, Jefferson 5: At Shiloh, Jacob Molison's walk-off two-run single with one out in the seventh clinched the comeback victory. Ryan Stough (2-for-2, double), Jerrin Toomey (2-for-5, double), Brock Gladfelter (2-for-4, triple) and Dan Resavy (2-for-3) also excelled for Shiloh. For Jefferson, Joe Trail went 3-for-4, including a homer and a triple, to go with three RBIs. Joe Jasinski (3-for-3, double) and Jim Volz (3-for-5) also shined for Jefferson.
Pleasureville 8, Manchester 7: At Pleasureville, the home team led 8-2 going into the top of the seventh and after a late Manchester rally held on for the victory. Tyler Fisher led Pleasureville, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs. Also for the winners, Matt Meyer went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Brennan Weinstein went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, Scott Ream doubled with two RBIs and Les Castro doubled. Pleasureville starting pitcher Tyler Wagner went six innings to pick up the win, striking out five and walking six. For Manchester, Logan Allison went 2-for-3, including a double, with one RBI. Manchester fell to 19-8.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.