MOUNT WOLF — This weekend's Tom Kerrigan Memorial Colonial York Tournament was probably the most fun that Dan Dierdorff has had on the diamond in quite some time.
The fact that surprised the Wolves' standout so much was how quickly a team of regulars and a handful of pickups could bond together. The combination of keeping the atmosphere light while also fiercely competing for a championship is rare, but was definitely center stage for Dierdorff and his Mount Wolf club.
The Central League and York County champs weren't able to keep the fun and competition going all the way to a title, however. After a disappointing end to Saturday with a loss to Staten Island, a perfect Sunday sent Mount Wolf to the losers' bracket final Monday morning against Burlington.
Despite a roster packed with stars, the Wolves were unable to solve the one-two combination of Matt Hill and John Harvey. Hill tossed four no-hit innings before Harvey continued with three more to lead Burlington to a 5-1 victory over Mount Wolf.
Burlington's luck, however, didn't last long. For the second time in the tournament, Burlington fell to the Susquehanna Assault, this time 5-3 Monday afternoon in the title game.
The Assault's victory marked the fifth time since 2009 that the Maryland-based club has won the Kerrigan crown.
"We're all disappointed," Dierdorff said. "But this was the most fun that I've ever had playing baseball. With the team that we had, made up of Mount Wolf guys and Jefferson guys and Manchester guys ... we were just thrown together for a weekend and the team chemistry was just unbelievable. I guess that it helps out that we played against these guys all year and to actually get together and play with them ... we just had a blast. I can't wait for next year."
Dierdorff pitched Mount Wolf to a 6-1 victory in their opener against Bumpy Oak Saturday morning and was in line to pitch in the finals Monday. The West Virginia product may have been able to do that had it not been for Hill and Harvey quieting his club's sticks. For the second time during the three-day tournament, the Wolves hit some balls hard, but just right at guys.
It took a walk, a passed ball and an error in the seventh inning against Harvey for Mount Wolf to break the shutout bid.
That bevy of misfortune was also evident in Saturday's 2-0 loss to Staten Island. Kyle Cook pitched that contest and Dierdorff felt his team did everything right except find open areas in the field.
"We hit the ball hard but right at them," he said. "And they didn't hit many balls hard against Kyle but they found holes in the defense."
Jefferson pickup Matt Gonzalez was able to right the ship Sunday. The right-hander threw two complete-game victories, 4-2 over Lehigh Valley and 4-2 over Buena Vista. Those games earned Gonzalez a high-dose of praise from Dierdorff.
"I haven't played in many Colonial Tournaments, but from what I've seen and what I've heard, he's the best pitcher that has ever pitched in this tournament," Dierdorff said. "If you just look at his record over the years, it's amazing. So when we knew we had 'Gonzo,' we knew we had a good one."
Monday's starter, Paul Rogerson, was undefeated at 9-0 on the season when he took the ball against Burlington. While Rogerson didn't pitch horribly (three innings, seven hits allowed, five runs), he did pitch with a good dose of bad luck, according to Dierdorff.
"We had a couple of bad bounces and a couple of bad breaks," Dierdorff said. "We had an error here and there on defense and we could have gotten out of some of the innings, but were unfortunate with some hops that didn't bounce in our favor. But that's just baseball."
While the Wolves were able to make it all the way to Monday, the other three York County teams weren't as fortunate. Central League playoff runner-up Glen Rock fell in Saturday's opener, 7-1, to Lehigh Valley, but rallied back with three straight wins in the losers' bracket. "The Rock" was eliminated by Burlington 9-2 Sunday afternoon.
Susquehanna League champ Hallam managed just one win in the tournament. The Express fell to the Berks Bombers, 3-1, in Saturday's opener. After defeating Camden 7-2, they were eliminated by the New York Hawks 8-4.
Jacobus, the Susquehanna League playoff runner-up, managed just one run in two contests. The Jackals fell 4-0 to Cecil County before dropping their losers' bracket contest against East Shore, 10-1.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.