SPRING GROVE — For much of the season, the Spring Grove baseball team has relied on pitching and defense to capture victories.
And while the offense has been strong for only brief periods, the Rockets are starting to see signs that their bats are finally catching up with the other two facets of the game.
After scoring eight runs in Friday's triumph over South Western, Spring Grove's hitters erupted again Monday afternoon when the Rockets played host to York-Adams Division I rival Red Lion.
Combined with a nice performance from starting pitcher Nick Spangler (six innings, three hits allowed, eight strikeouts), the Rockets pounded out 13 hits en route to a 9-1 victory. The win clinched at least a share of the division title for Spring Grove, which improved to 12-5 overall and 9-2 in the league.
Second-place Red Lion fell to 10-6 overall and 8-4 in the league.
"We started to bring the bats out," Spring Grove coach Eric Zeigler said. "Our pitching and defense has been very good all year long, but the bats have sort of been up and down."
Spangler helped himself at the plate with four hits to lead the parade. Catcher Dalton Hoiles added three more hits, while first baseman Will Maughlin drove in five runs with a sacrifice fly, a single and a three-run homer.
All of that offense provided a boost to Spangler, who struggled a bit early and threw 122 pitches. After allowing an unearned run in the second, Spangler battled out of a bases-loaded jam by inducing a groundout to end the frame.
"Those first two innings I just needed to bear down and do what I was taught," he said.
The Rockets made things a lot easier for Spangler in the bottom of the frame. After quickly retiring the first two batters, Red Lion pitcher Briar Lauer felt the sting of the home team's bats. Spring Grove laced six hits with a walk to plate five runs to go up 6-1.
Maughlin added some more insurance in the third when he brought home Spangler and Hoiles with a three-run homer over the right-field fence.
"That definitely makes you feel more comfortable," Spangler said. "You get comfortable and then you start to get into a groove and then you let them put the ball in play and let your defense do their job."
The Lions, who had a five-game win streak stopped in Saturday's loss in the championship of their own tournament by Exeter, were hoping to draw even in the loss column with the Rockets. Coach Darren Hake's club, however, just ran into a team that put forth a complete effort.
"They pitched well and they hit well," Hake said. "They hit the ball today. We had zero physical errors today and they had 13 hits so you got to tip your hat to them."
The Rockets can clinch the division title outright Tuesday when they play host to Dallastown.
Susquehannock 15, Bermudian Springs 0 (4 Innings): At Glen Rock, Sammy Miller led the Warriors to the York-Adams Division III victory by picking up the complete-game, four-inning win on the mound, while also hitting a double, a homer and scoring two runs. Also for Susquehannock, Cody Dennis had two hits and three runs, Josh Houser hit a homer and scored two runs, Alec Lebo scored three runs and walked three times and Aaron Portner scored two runs. Susquehannock is 12-0 in the division and 14-2 overall.
Eastern York 13, York Suburban 2: At Suburban, Michael Dunn pitched a complete-game seven-hitter to get the win in a game that ended after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule. Dunn also homered. Terry Godfrey (three hits, homer, double, two runs, two RBIs), Thomas Taylor (two hits, homer, two RBIs, three runs), Colby Shimmel (two hits, two RBIs, two runs), Dalton Renn (two hits, double, one run, one RBI), Clayton Miller (two hits, double, two runs, one RBI) and Bob Hedrick (two hits, one run) led Eastern's offense. Jackson Marshall homered for Suburban, while Thomas Merkle had two hits, including a double. Eastern improved to 11-6 overall and 8-4 in York-Adams Division III.
Biglerville 5, York Catholic 1: York Catholic took a 1-0 lead in the second inning but Biglerville starting pitcher Koby Griest held the Irish scoreless from there. His offense tied it in the fourth inning and took the lead for good in the fifth with a pair of runs. The Canners went on to score two more in the seventh and collected a total of 11 hits. Zack Sheets (3 for 4, RBI, run scored), Shawn Redding (3 for 4, RBI, run scored) and Michael Borth (2 for 4, RBI) paced the Biglerville offense. Matt McKim had the lone RBI that scored teammate Erich Hartman in the second inning for York Catholic. Irish starting pitcher Elliott Miles gave up two runs on six hits in four innings while also going 2 for 2 at the plate.
York Tech 5, Fairfield 2: At Spry, Sam Brown pitched a complete-game four-hitter to get the win, striking out nine without a walk. Nick Wilson (3 for 4), Argenis Rivera (two hits, two runs, walk) and Joshua Matias (two hits, RBI) led Tech's offense. Tech picked up its first win of the season.
Northeastern 11, Kennard-Dale 1 (5 Innings): At Manchester, Steve Shimkus led the Bobcats to the York-Adams Division II victory by pitching a complete-game, five-inning game, allowing only one hit, while striking out eight and walking two. Northeastern's offense was led by Grant Myers (2 for 3, double, two RBIs, one run), Trey Beyer (2 for 2, two runs scored) and Devin Blymire (2 for 3, one run, one RBI). For the Rams, Cole Measley had the lone hit, a double in the third. Northeastern improved to 7-4 in the division and 11-5 overall.
Central York 9, South Western 6: At Central, Walker Monteith had two hits and four RBIs to power the Panthers. Adam Reed added three hits and two RBIs for the winners. Joe Kroeger also had two hits for Central, which outhit South Western, 13-6. Kyle Arganbright pitched three innings of shutout relief for Central.
West York 11, Dover 4: At West York, the Bulldogs plated seven runs in the bottom of the fifth to break a 4-4 tie and went on to win the York-Adams Division II matchup. Cole Bixler led the Bulldogs by going 3 for 4. Also for West York, Brandon Wetzel went 2 for 3, while Carson Fries had a three-run double. For the Eagles, Bryce Smith went 2 for 4 with two RBIs. West York stayed perfect in the division at 11-0 and moved to 15-1 overall.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.