HANOVER — Fresh off a big victory over Spring Grove earlier in the week, the Pleasureville American Legion baseball club felt a sense of confidence heading into Thursday's late-season showdown at South Western.
With the Outlaws still playing for a chance to win the regular-season title, it was the visitors who played as if they were chasing a championship. Pleasureville took advantage of 22 base runners against the home team's pitching by scoring eight runs, four of which were driven in by catcher Colin Parks.
That was way more run support than the duo of Brady Abel and Mike Davis needed. Those two combined for a four-hit shutout in an 8-0 triumph.
The victory assures Pleasureville (14-2) of at least a top-four seed in next weekend's eight-team, single-elimination playoffs. The loss by South Western York (13-1-1) also means that Northeastern (16-1) officially clinched the regular-season championship and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
"They're a very good team," Parks said of the Outlaws. "But the bats really came alive for us tonight and that's really big for us."
The visitors were able to scratch across a couple runs over the first three innings, but didn't really take control until the fifth. Back-to-back walks of Smeltzer and Ryan Crum with the bases loaded forced in a pair of runs. Those runs pushed their advantage to 5-0.
They salted the contest away in the seventh when Smeltzer ripped a two-run double to the gap to make it 7-0. The final run of the night was plated when Anthony Reed grounded into a fielder's choice.
"It was just one of those nights where everything was coming together," Parks said.
He would know. It was just a few weeks ago when the two teams started a contest that saw the Outlaws take an early lead. As luck would have it, however, weather forced the game to be postponed before it became official.
That gave Parks and company a second chance against the home team and they took advantage of it.
"We got lucky earlier in the year because that game was rained out," Parks said. "They had us down 3-1 and we just weren't playing well. But we were able to come back and definitely give them a better run of it tonight."
While the final score indicates a one-sided contest, the home team was not without its chances. Abel loaded the bases in the second after hitting the leadoff guy and then walking the next two batters. The southpaw, however, induced a foul out and a fielder's choice force out at home before striking out the final batter of the frame to escape the jam.
Similar trouble brewed an inning later after a walk and an error with one out. Abel can thank Davis, who started at first, for getting him out of a jam in what was a 2-0 game at that point. Smith caught a popup in foul territory before spinning and throwing to third to get the runner trying to advance.
"That was a big play for us there," Pleasureville coach Bob Davis said.
The home team never really threatened after that, with Abel and Davis closing the door.
"We feel like we're really in a good spot right now to make a run and really get deep (into the playoff bracket)," Parks said. "But we have one more game against Dallastown (13-3) left on Monday, which should be a good contest."
Parks finished with two hits, while Crum walked in all four of his plate appearances for Pleasureville. Noah Staub finished with a double and single to lead the Outlaws.
OTHER LEGION GAME
New Oxford 9, Dover 2: At New Oxford, Ethan Hertz went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI to lead the home team. Keegan Romanoff added two hits, a run scored and an RBI for the winners. Steve Stoy and Joseph Dolan each had two hits for Dover. Kobe Brown pitched six innings and allowed two runs to get the win.
CENTRAL LEAGUE GAMES
Manchester 11, Pleasureville 2: At Pleasureville, Chris Beichler slugged two hits, including a homer, and also drove in four runs to pace the visitors. Dan Royer (four hits, two runs, RBI), Trey McWilliams (two hits, three runs), Logan Allison (two hits, two runs, RBI), Josh Reeser (double, two RBIs, run), Jason Kelly (hit, two runs, RBI) and Kody Reeser (double, RBI) also excelled in Manchester's 13-hit attack. Jeremy Pagano pitched a complete-game six-hitter to get the win, striking out four without a walk. Tyler Wagner (two hits, double, RBI) and Garret Kirkpatrick (two hits, RBI) led Pleasureville.
Shiloh 5, Stoverstown 1: At Shiloh, back-to-back two-run innings for the home team helped it take control and cruise to the victory. Kaden Hepler earned the win, despite surrendering nine walks, but only allowed three hits in five innings. Offensively, Shiloh was led by Michael Santiago, Cole Bixler and Brock Gladfelter, who each had two-hit nights. Bixler drove in two runs, while Santiago knocked in one. For Stoverstown, Daryl Harang was saddled with the loss, while Levi Krause drove in his team's only run.
Dover 3, Dillsburg 2: At Dover, the home team walked off in the eighth inning, thanks to Jordan Higgins delivering his second RBI of the night, plating Ross Drawbaugh to earn the victory. Derek Slagle pitched all eight innings for Dover, allowing two runs on six hits, three walks and striking out 12. Drawbaugh, Higgins and Cody Glass each had two-hit nights, with Drawbaugh and Higgins driving in the three runs. Rusty Simmoneau took the loss for Dillsburg, pitching a complete game, allowing three runs on 10 hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. Dillsburg's Dylan Tamecki went 2-for-2.
SUSQUEHANNA LEAGUE GAMES
East Prospect 1, Felton 0: At Felton, the Pistons scored the game's only run on a bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning. That was the third walk of the inning allowed by Felton, along with a hit. The teams combined for just five hits. It was East Prospect's 11th shutout of the season. Terry Godfrey and Darren Weidman combined on a two-hitter for Prospect. Godfrey pitched five innings, striking out nine and walking two to get the win, while Weidman got the save. Steve Ahlbrandt and Sam Schwartz combined on a three-hitter for Felton. They also combined for nine strikeouts, but also allowed eight walks, including six by Ahlbrandt, who took the loss. East Prospect improved to 17-2.
Stewartstown 10, Conrads 3: At Stewartstown, Justin Sommer pitched a complete game to get the win and also slugged a grand slam during a nine-run fifth inning for the home team. Sommer struck out four and walked three. Marcus Stevenson and Jesse Brittain also homered for the winners. Justin Berkstresser and Brandon Miller each had two hits, including a double, for Conrads. Josh Knaub also doubled for Conrads.
Hallam 1, Red Lion 0: At Hallam, Dan Wecker's sixth-inning home run was the difference for victorious Hallam. Alex Tucci was the winning pitcher, tossing seven innings and scattering two hits, while striking out 10 and walking two. Alex Zelger took the tough-luck loss on the mound for Red Lion. He went the distance and recorded one strikeout and five walks.
Jacobus 6, York Township 2: At Jacobus, Andrew Kelley belted a walk-off grand slam to propel Jacobus to a come-from-behind win. At one point, Jacobus trailed 2-0, before scoring the game's final six runs. Kerry Clark earned the win for Jacobus, while Brian Hudish had two triples and two runs scored at the plate. For Township, Dylan Reichard drove in the only two runs, delivering on a two-out single in the top of the second. First-place Jacobus improved to 17-1.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.