LEGION: Suicide squeeze lifts Northeastern into playoff title game
MANCHESTER — Adam Kipp is an imposing first baseman who bats in the power slot, cleanup, for the Northeastern American Legion baseball team.
Kipp is used to driving the ball, not bunting it.
On Sunday evening, though, Kipp laid down a game-winning bunt.
On his second suicide squeeze attempt in the seventh inning (he fouled off the first one), Kipp bunted the ball between home plate and the mound. The runner from third base, who broke for home with the pitcher's delivery, scored standing up to give Northeastern a dramatic 2-1 victory over Dallastown in a York-Adams Tournament semifinal game.
The winners earned a spot in Monday's title game. Both Northeastern, the regular-season champion, and Pleasureville have already qualified for the Region 4 Tournament, which begins on Saturday in Ephrata.
"It was pretty cool getting that suicide squeeze down," Kipp said. "I don't usually bunt. I usually swing in that situation."
Kipp knew what to do before he stepped in the batter's box
"I talked to Coach (Northeastern manager Ken Kopp), and he told me we're squeezing. He also told me if we don't get it (the bunt) down the first time, we're going to do it a second time," Kipp said.
Northeastern loaded the bases for Kipp on a hit batsman, Tom Skehan's infield hit and an intentional walk to Trae Beyer.
The home team used small ball to win the game after Dallastown forged a tie by scoring a run in the top of the sixth inning.
Nick Schuler delivered a clutch, two-out single just to the right of the second base bag to deliver Bryant Holtzapple with the tying run. Jon Snyder also had a hit for the visitors in the sixth.
Northeastern broke on top with a run in the last of the fifth. Drew Wolfgang ripped a lead-off single to left field and advanced to second on Jonah Latshaw's sacrifice bunt. Wolfgang took third on a wild pitch and scored when Trae Beyer beat out an infield hit. (Beyer used a head-first slide into first base).
Brady Dolan earned the victory and Dallastown pitcher Avery Strayer absorbed a tough loss.
Dolan struck out two and walked just one while yielding five hits. Strayer, meanwhile, yielded seven hits, struck out two and walked three.
"It was tough going against him (Strayer), he's a good pitcher," Dolan said. "We knew we were going to get a close game today. My fastball was my best pitch. I could really locate it on the outside corner."
Having survived Dallastown's challenge, Northeastern will bid for the sweep (regular-season and playoff titles) Monday evening in the playoff championship game vs. Pleasureville at 5:45 p.m. at Manchester..
"We already knew (going into the playoffs) that we were already going to Region 4," Kopp said. "But these guys never let up. We have a great group of ballplayers."
Beyer finished with two hits for Northeastern, and Schuler collected two hits for Dallastown.
Northeastern will take a 19-1 record into the Region 4 event. Dallastown's season closed at 14-5, a major improvement over last year's 7-7-1 mark.
"We're working in the right direction," Dallastown manager Phil Jeanmenne said. "They (Northeastern) forced us to play our best baseball today, and in the end, they squeezed one in."
Jeanmenne did not agree with the umpire's decision to award first base to Northeastern's Wolfgang to start the seventh inning. The Northeastern outfielder was hit by a pitch, but Jeanmenne felt Wolfgang didn't make an attempt to get out of the way of the ball.
Jeanmenne was pleased with Strayer's performance and the way his players swung the bats, particularly Schuler.
"We hit some hard balls, and Nick has been solid all year for us. I could tell he took the game pretty hard," Jeanmenne said.
OTHER LEGION BASEBALL
Pleasureville 10, South Western 6: At Pleasureville, the home team earned a berth in the York-Adams Legion playoff title game and in the Region 4 playoffs. Collin Smeltzer pitched 5 1/3 innings to get the win. Mike Davis closed the final 1 2/3 innings for Pleasureville. Davis went 3-for-4 at the plate with a double and three RBIs. Tyler Wagner doubled in the first to knock in three runs.
— Reach Dick VanO'Linda at email@example.com.