MOUNT WOLF — Mark Burnside knew when he was only 9 years old which Central League baseball team he wanted to play for some day.
"I was going into the Bob Hoffman Academy (at the York YMCA), and Greg Kline (a former Mount Wolf star) was there," Burnside said. "I knew I was coming here some day."
The Wolves are happy that Burnside decided to play on the diamond just off Maple Street.
Burnside, who will begin his senior year at Limestone College in South Carolina College in the fall, delivered a brilliant pitching performance on Tuesday evening.
The 6-foot, 6-inch left-hander shut out Shiloh, 3-0, as Mount Wolf won the matchup of the league's second- and third-place teams. Burnside recorded 10 strikeouts while walking three batters. He checked the visitors on five hits. The York Catholic graduate did throw 135 pitches in the seven-inning game.
"I felt good, and my legs felt good," Burnside said. "I mixed speeds and kept them off stride."
Burnside's ability to get his curve ball over on strike one helped keep the hitters off balance. He was also aided by an outstanding fielding play by third baseman Steve Pokopec in the sixth inning. Shiloh had runners on first and second with two outs when Carson Fries hit a hard ground ball to Pokopec's right. Pokopec made a backhand stop and threw out Fries to end the inning.
"I was shading toward the line a little bit," Pokopec said. "I was able to backhand the ball, and I made the throw right on target. Mark's been huge for us. (Dan) Dierdorff and (Kyle) Cook weren't ready to go at the beginning of the season because they didn't get enough time to throw in the offseason. Mark, coming from college, stepped right in for us."
Pokopec also contributed with the bat by delivering two of the winners' six hits. Four of the Mount Wolf's hits off hard-luck loser Keenan Stare didn't leave the infield. Tom Skehan also had two hits for the Wolves, who combined two infield hits with a walk and a double steal to score two runs in the second. A hit batsman, parlayed with a wild pitch, a sacrifice bunt and an error accounted for the game's final run in the sixth.
"This was a big game for us because we put a little separation between us and them," Mount Wolf manager Tim Brenner said. "They (Shiloh) are very good. I knew this was not going to be a piece of cake."
Brenner said that Burnside has been pitching great since they had a talk two weeks ago.
"I called him and put a little flame under him," Brenner said. "Mark, in his first couple of years here, he would be looking in at me (in the dugout) wondering if I was getting someone up."
Burnside's attention these days is focused solely on the hitter and his catcher, Dustin Kuhn.
Burnside earned the victory on Tuesday, but Stare also pitched well enough to win most games. The West York graduate struck out seven, walked two and allowed two earned runs.
Cole Bixler and Brock Gladfelter each had two hits for Shiloh.
OTHER CENTRAL LEAGUE GAMES
Stoverstown 6, Pleasureville 2: At Pleasureville, the visitors broke a 2-2 tie when they plated four unanswered runs in the top of the seventh to capture the victory. Levi Krause led the home team by throwing a complete game, striking out two and walking two. Krause also helped himself at the plate by going 2-for-4 with one run scored. Also for Stoverstown, Brandon Bishard went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, Eric Dowling went 1-for-2 with two RBIs and one run scored, Brandon Warner went 2-for-2 and J.W. Besore went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and one run scored. For Pleasureville, Beau Burris went 2-for-3 with one RBI and Scott Ream and Matt Meyer each doubled.
Jefferson 9, Dover 0: At Dover, starting pitcher Brian Bossom threw six shutout innings to lead the visitors to the victory. Bossom struck out two, walked one and allowed no extra base hits. Also for Jefferson, Jordan Witmer went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs, Jordan Watkins went 2-for-4 with one run scored and one RBI, Tyler Troxel went 2-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored, Ethan Lear went 2-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored and Pat Schultz went 2-for-4 with a double, one run scored and one RBI.
— Reach Dick VanOlinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.