SPRY — It's not always a given that all the key players on a Susquehanna League team will be there on game day.
Sometimes, a manager, such as Hallam's Terry Golden, has to reach out to players to see if they will be available.
But there are those nice moments for a guy such as Golden when his phone will ring unsolicited. Having managed Jacobus for many years, Golden has played with and managed a lot of guys. Fortunately for him, he received one of those unsolicited calls from one of those guys a few weeks ago asking to pitch.
Jason Christenberry, one of the top pitchers in the league just a few years ago, rang his old manager. Having thrown a game back on July 4 against Jacobus, Christenberry was on the mound again for the Express vs. York Township on Monday.
No longer a guy that will just try to throw it by everybody, the York College graduate was efficient and effective. The right-hander needed less than 80 pitches en route to throwing a complete game, helping Hallam earn a 4-1 triumph.
"Jason called me," Golden said. "I managed him for eight or nine years down there and they (Jacobus) didn't want him."
Overhearing that, Christenberry added: "T-Bone knows that I will always pick up the phone and just call him."
"He's an awesome pitcher," Golden said. "I don't think he throws as hard as he used to, but he hits his spots more and has gotten a lot more creative pitching wise. He's a joy to have."
Just enough offense: With a staff anchored by Shawn Hedrick, to go along with strong starters such as Matt Ruth and Alex Tucci, adding a guy such as Christenberry to the mix just makes the Express (20-9) that much more of a threat these days. While that clearly makes Golden happy, the thing that worries the veteran manager is his team's offense.
Fortunately for Hallam, they had enough of that to make a winner of Christenberry. The Express pounded eight hits off Township starter James Striebig. They were twice able to scratch out a pair of runs in the third and fifth innings by bunching together singles, walks or hit batters.
Jaron Shimmel and Eric McNeil each drove in a run in the third, with Shimmel scoring Albert Cruz with a single, while McNeil drew a bases-loaded walk. In the fifth, it was Jon Benchich, the MVP of this past weekend's Central vs. Susquehanna League All-Star Game, who drove in a run with an infield single. Like McNeil, Dan Wecker followed by drawing a bases-loaded walk.
That was more than enough for Christenberry, who allowed seven hits, walked two and hit a batter while striking out just one. Pitching to contact, the 27 year old induced 12 groundouts.
"Just mixing speeds," he said. "I can't bring it like I used to, so I just try to get guys to hit it. I've been in this league for 10 years and I've got a lot of innings in my arm, so I just try to get guys to put it in play and use my defense."
Playing in two leagues: While Christenberry hadn't played in the Susquehanna League for more than a year, he's kept himself busy playing in a similar league down in Maryland, where he now resides.
"I also play for the Frederick Flying Dogs too," said Christenberry, who is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA for Frederick. "We're in the playoffs there in the Mid-Maryland Semipro League. So I've been pitching down there and getting innings in. It's not like I just haven't been pitching."
Township was only able to threaten Christenberry seriously once in the fourth inning. Singles by Mike Wokulich and Austin Martinez led off the frame, with Morgan Markey driving in Wokulich with a single to right. Christenberry, however, got out of the jam by getting an inning-ending double-play ball to second.
Wokulich and Jon Snyder led Township (12-15) with two hits each, while McNeil led the Express with a pair of singles. Striebig went six innings for the home team. He allowed seven hits while striking out five before giving way to Jay Dimler, who pitched a scoreless seventh for Township.
OTHER SUSQUEHANNA LEAGUE GAME
East Prospect 13, Stewartstown 7: At Stewartstown, the visitors plated nine runs in the top of the first and never looked back. Ben Achenbach powered the visitors with a homer. Also for Prospect, Ryan Saxman hit two doubles, Dylan Stoops doubled and Hunter McVey threw a complete game, striking out eight and walking one. For Stewartstown, Marcus Stevenson and Adam Allshouse each hit one double. First-place East Prospect improved to 23-5.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.