EAST PROSPECT — The old adage in baseball is that defense and pitching win championships.
Two teams that adhere to that saying took to the field against each other Tuesday night when East Prospect played host to Hallam in a Susquehanna League battle.
Neither team really beats you with just hitting, but good pitching can deflect the attention away from a struggling offense.
No one has been better at doing that than the Pistons, who entered the contest with a league-high nine shutouts this season.
Despite a strong start by Express starter Matt Ruth, who held Prospect to three hits, the Pistons were able to do just enough, scoring a pair of runs off singles by Ben Achenbach.
Those two runs were good enough for the home squad, which got its 10th shutout of the season — a combined one-hitter from Adam Yunginger and Hunter McVey — in a 2-0 triumph.
The victory improved second-place East Prospect to 16-2 on the season, while Hallam, the two-time defending league champion, fell to 13-8.
"Right now we're not scoring a lot of runs and our pitching has been keeping us in games," said Prospect manager Mark Toomey, whose team has allowed just 26 runs in 18 games.
It was nice luxury for Toomey to be able to throw Yunginger against one of the top teams in the league. A former standout at Manheim Township and Monmouth University, Yunginger has been dominating so far.
One downside of that success, however, is that the right-hander has a limited pitch count. Yunginger will have a chance to try out and pitch professionally, like his teammate Dylan Stoops.
"They called Adam up for a tryout," said Toomey, who noted that Stoops is on the reserve list for the Washington Wild Things. "I'm not sure which team it is, but I think it's one in the Frontier League, which is great for him. We wish him the best of luck."
Yunginger allowed the only hit of the night for Hallam in the third inning. Express third baseman Dalton Renn got the lone hit on a popup to shallow right-center on a ball that possibly could have been caught.
That hit sparked the only rally of the night for the visitors, who loaded the bases. Yunginger, however, was able to get Eric McNeil to pop out to short to end the inning.
If the visitors were able to break through in that inning, there's no telling what might have been. Ruth was lights out through the first three innings, retiring the first six batters he faced by strikeout.
"Matt Ruth looked really good tonight," Toomey said. "He threw a lot of strikes and was very effective. He got some good hitters out."
With one out in the fourth, Ryky Smith singled up the middle to break up Ruth's no-hit bid. After retiring catcher Mark Schauren for the second out, the inning would have been over had it not been for a fielding error by the shortstop off the bat of Stoops.
One pitch later Achenbach singled on a hard grounder up the middle.
That was all that the Pistons would need. McVey took the mound to start the fourth. The right-hander, who throws with a sidearm delivery, was able to shut down the visitors to earn the victory, the team's third against Hallam this season.
OTHER SUSQUEHANNA LEAGUE GAMES
Jacobus 5, Windsor 0: At Windsor, Drew Kelley led the visitors by going 4-for-4, including a double, to go with two runs scored and two RBIs. Also for Jacobus, Austin Calaman went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, while Mike Crowe threw a shutout, striking out six and walking one. For the home team, Rick Thompson doubled. First-place Jacobus improved to 16-1.
Conrads 8, Red Lion 2: At Conrads, Justin Berkstresser went 2-for-2, including a homer, to go with four RBIs, a walk and a run scored to lead Conrads to the 4 1/2-inning win. Brandon Miller (2-for-3, two runs, walk, RBI) and Kevin Keesey (hit, two walks, two RBIs) also excelled for the winners. Josh Knaub went the distance for the win, striking out two and walking one while allowing seven hits. Alex Zelger (two hits, run) and Tanner Forry (two hits, RBI) led Red Lion.
Felton 2, York Township 1: At York Township, Steve Ahlbrandt's RBI single scored Patrick Daugherty from second in the top of the seventh to break a 1-1 tie and give the visitors the lead for good. For the game, Daugherty went 2-for-3, including a double, with one RBI. Also for Felton, Adam Whitman went 2-for-3, while Devin Gohn threw a complete game, striking out three, walking none and allowing just two singles. For Township, Alex Peters threw a complete game, striking out two and walking one.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.