MOUNT WOLF — Hallam third baseman Jason Seitz admitted his team didn't know a lot about Central League champion Mount Wolf heading into this weekend's York County Baseball Championship Series.
Seitz, however, did get one bit of information that was proven to be 100 percent correct about Wolves right fielder Patrick Moriarty.
"I heard that you just can't let that guy (Moriarty) beat you," Seitz said.
So when Hallam was in a bit of a bind in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the best-of-3 series at Mount Wolf's Rock Brenner Memorial Field, it was slightly curious when the Express elected to walk No. 3 hitter Dustin Kuhn with a base open and one out to get to Moriarty.
True to what Seitz said, Moriarty — the Central League's top hitter with an average of around .450 — smoked a laser that eluded Hallam right fielder Jon Benchich to drive in the game-winning run in a highly entertaining 4-3 come-from-behind victory.
The Wolves swept the series 2-0, marking the 11th overall county title for Mount Wolf, easily the most by any team in the tournament's history.
So was Moriarty surprised to see the Express pitch to him, despite two hits in his previous three plate appearances? Not really, but it did stoke his competitive fire a little.
"I understand, in that scenario, why they did that," Moriarty said. "It's so you can try to get a double play. But they've only seen papers and things like that. They really haven't seen me. And I didn't really hit well (Saturday). So nothing really showed them that I was going to do it. But my thinking was that I was ready for it."
Hallam starter Shawn Hedrick fell victim to a couple of hard-hit balls in that eighth inning. Mount Wolf's Dan Dierdorff smoked a ball right at shortstop Jaron Shimmel to start the inning for seemingly the first out. The ball, however, tailed away from Shimmel's glove late and bounced out of his webbing and into left field. That error, combined with Dierdorff's steal of second with one out, set the stage for the Wolves. Hallam manager Terry Golden decided to walk Kuhn to set up a potential inning-ending double play with Moriarty at the plate.
Moriarty, who had already doubled and singled off Hedrick, stepped to the plate waiting for a fastball and he got it.
"(Hedrick) is a good pitcher," he said. "He hits his spots, but my first three at-bats ... I knew the fastball was coming. And he just happened to put it right where I was looking for it in that last at-bat."
Benchich initially took a step in on the ball before trying to catch up with it when it was clear it would go over his head. Benchich leaped for the ball, which deflected off his glove and bounced to the fence allowing Dierdorff — who pumped his fist — to easily score.
Moriarty had a good look at the play while he ran to first and admitted he experienced a bit of a roller-coaster feeling.
"I was like, 'oh, no ... he just caught this,'" Moriarty said. "So I was thinking that this wasn't going to work out well, but then went it went to the fence I was so happy."
Mount Wolf manager Tim Brenner, however, had no doubt about his slugging right fielder's game-winning rocket.
"He ripped that," Brenner said. "It was smoked. Mo has been terrific all year. He's the guy I wanted up there. He didn't hit .450 for nothing."
The fact that the Wolves were able to rally for a victory is nothing new. After taking a 1-0 lead in the second when Jesse Sargen drove in Moriarty from second with a single, Mount Wolf gifted the Express two of their three runs. An error by shortstop Brandon Scott allowed Shimmel to reach to start the third. A groundout and a sacrifice fly by Seitz tied the game. After Benchich gave his team the lead with another sacrifice fly in the fourth, another error in the sixth allowed Hallam to go up 3-1. After Eric McNeil singled and moved to second on a wild pitch, a throwing error on a ball hit by Joe Pietrobone allowed McNeil to score.
Leading 3-1 heading into the seventh, it appeared as if Hedrick was on the cusp of sending the series into a winner-take-all Game 3. But back-to-back singles by Moriarty and Steve Pokopec, which drove in Moriarty to cut the lead to 3-2, ignited the comeback rally. After Sargen sacrificed Pokopec to second, Kyle Cook singled to left that plated the tying run.
Cook, however, was thrown out trying to move to second on the throw home. After allowing a single by Aaron Myers, Hedrick got out of the inning by getting Cody Glass to pop out to third.
"We got the guys that we wanted up," Brenner said. "That's all that you can ask for."
Moriarty's heroics made a winner of Mount Wolf starter Paul Rogerson. Rogerson allowed just four hits over eight innings while improving his record to 9-0.
"Paul threw a hell of a game," Brenner said. "He's 9-0 this year now. He's just incredible."
Disappointed after two gut-wrenching one-run losses (Hallam dropped a 1-0 decision Saturday despite allowing only one hit), Golden tipped his cap to Mount Wolf.
"They came out and play ball like we do," Golden said. "They didn't give up at the end of the game. They could have just rolled over and gave us that ballgame just like a lot of other teams did this year. Now we're not hanging our heads about it. We just got beat by a pretty darn good ballclub."
Both sides will get about a week to rest before the start of the Tom Kerrigan Colonial York Tournament kicks off Saturday. Hallam and Jacobus will represent the Susquehanna League, while Mount Wolf and Glen Rock will represent the Central League.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.
H: Hedrick and McNeil; MW: Rogerson and Kuhn; WP: Rogerson; LP: Hedrick; 2B: H, Miller. MW, Moriarty.