Facing elimination for the first time all season didn't bother Spring Grove on Monday afternoon at the American Legion Region IV Tournament in Fredericksburg, Lebanon County.
After falling to Hummelstown in the double-elimination tournament Sunday, the York-Adams regular-season and playoff champs needed to win to extend their season on Monday against Shippensburg.
In an elimination contest at Wenger Field, Spring Grove raced out to an early 6-0 lead and never looked back against the Franklin County champs. The Papertown kids got one-hit pitching from starter Dalton Hoiles and reliever Aaron Becker en route to an impressive 14-0 victory that was called after seven innings because of the mercy rule.
Coach Sam Becker's club will face York-Adams rival Glen Rock on Tuesday back at Wenger Field at 4 p.m. Glen Rock (14-9) fell to Hummelstown, 5-3, in 10 innings in the winners' bracket, setting up an elimination game between the York County clubs.
The Dauphin County champs (23-1) remained unbeaten in the tournament and will face Red Land (21-5), an 11-1 winner over Ephrata in Tuesday's other contest. Red Land will be eliminated with a loss, while a Hummelstown setback will leave the field with three teams with one loss apiece.
"In the second inning they had a few errors which helped us out," Coach Becker said. "It was nice to get that six-run lead early like that."
Logan Warner, who finished with three RBIs, drove in the game's first run with a sacrifice fly. Teammate Austin Hunt drove in another run with an error before Nick Spangler collected two RBIs on a single to put Spring Grove up 4-0. Levi Krause added another RBI single before a wild pitch put Becker's club up 6-0.
"We hit the ball well," Becker said. "I just kept telling everybody before they'd go up (to the plate) 'to just wait for your pitch. Don't swing at anything early in the count if it isn't exactly what you want to hit.'"
Becker's advice was in reference to Sunday's loss to Hummelstown. Becker felt many of his guys weren't patient enough in that game.
Hoiles, meanwhile, was in control from the get-go. Hoiles, who no-hit Shippensburg through four innings, was pulled with his team up 14-0 heading to the fifth with the outcome well in hand.
"He had a no-hitter going there, which was nice, but I decided to save him for the rest of the week," Becker said. "He looked really good."
Aaron Becker, Sam's son, finished up the victory with three scoreless frames. He allowed just one hit, a fifth-inning single by Nick Jacoby, that just eluded Becker's glove before sailing into center field for a hit.
Now the defending Region IV champs will have to beat a Glen Rock team for the fourth time this season if they want to repeat and advance to the state tournament. Coach Becker feels Tuesday's contest should be a lot of fun.
"The boys enjoy playing against them," he said. "They know each other and are friends with a lot of them. There's always been a really competitive spirit there, which makes it kind of fun."
Becker is pretty sure he'll give the ball to Jake Thoman to start against Glen Rock. Thoman, who was named the top pitcher in the York-Adams League playoffs a week ago, held Glen Rock to two runs over four innings in last Wednesday's 13-2 victory in the league playoff final.
Hummelstown 5, Glen Rock 3 (F-10): After Glen Rock starter Josh Houser escaped a self-made jam in the eighth inning (he walked the bases loaded), the right-hander couldn't repeat a similar escape feat in the 10th. Singles by Hummelstown's Kaylor Kulina and Chad Stine drove in runs that broke a 3-3 tie.
Hummelstown is assured of at least one chance to win the Region IV title with the victory. If Hummelstown defeats Red Land on Tuesday, the Glen Rock-Spring Grove winner would have to defeat them twice on Wednesday. If Hummelstown falls to Red Land, Hummelstown will still advance to play the remaining team on Wednesday in a one-game, winner-take-all contest.
"I'm just disappointed for the boys," Glen Rock coach Mike Miller said. "They played their hearts out and to stand with Hummelstown, who was 22-1, and to take them to 10 innings ... I'm just really proud of the effort that the boys put in. They never quit."
For a while it appeared as if Hummelstown was in position to close out the contest in regulation. Trailing 3-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Glen Rock rallied to even the score on a run-scoring double by Luke Knott and a RBI single by Houser to make it 3-3.
Glen Rock jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second when Dustin Babaie singled in Collin Tattersall. Hummelstown tied the score in the fourth when catcher Deon Stafford doubled in a run to make it 1-1.
The visitors took the lead in the third when Michael Wilhite drove in a run with a single. Wilhite later scored on a sacrifice fly to left to make it 3-1.
Glen Rock had its chances against Hummelstown starter Tyler Roman, but couldn't get the big hit, a disheartening fact for Houser, who pitched 9 2/3 solid innings.
"I thought Josh pitched well enough to win," Miller said. "I thought that if we could have got a couple more hits early on we might not be in this position. I thought we hit the ball real well, but hit it right at people. We couldn't get a break. But we were down 3-1 and came back to tie the game and played nine innings with them."
SUSQUEHANNA LEAGUE GAME
Hallam 5, Red Lion 4: At Hallam, the home team led 5-1 after three innings and hung on. Dalton Renn led Hallam by connecting for a two-run single in the bottom of the third, plating two of the four runs that inning. Teammate Jake Schoelkoph threw a complete game. For Red Lion, Thomas Taylor went 2-for-3, while teammates Tanner Forry and Devin Strickler each went 2-for-4. Red Lion's Alex Zelger doubled, the lone extra-base hit in the game. First-place Hallam improved to 21-5.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.