MOUNT WOLF — It was getting a bit frustrating for the Mount Wolf hitters Thursday evening against Shiloh starter Logan Stover.
The right-hander, who threw a lot of off-speed pitches, proved to be a handful for the Wolves to hit against in Game 1 of the best-of-3 Central League semifinal playoff series.
Once Stover was lifted in favor of reliever Cash Gladfelter, however, the home was able to kick things into gear.
Frustrated by flying out in his previous two at-bats, Mount Wolf slugger Patrick Moriarty ripped an opposite-field, two-run homer to right in the sixth inning. The Wolves added an insurance tally later in that frame en route to earning a 4-2 triumph.
Game 2 is Saturday at Shiloh.
The key for the second-seeded Wolves was knocking out Stover, who allowed just one run on four hits over 4 2/3 innings. Gladfelter was able to get out of a two-on, two-out jam in the fifth by fanning the final batter of the frame.
Going back out in the sixth, Gladfelter was quickly met by a Mount Wolf team chomping at the bit to hit anything with velocity on it.
"(Stover) is not the hardest-throwing pitcher, but he throws his off-speed (stuff) well and mixes it up," Moriarty said. "That gets people off balance and he did a good job with it."
Trailing 2-1 going into the bottom of the sixth, Gladfelter walked Steve Pokopec in front of Moriarty. With the count 1-1, Moriarty got a fastball that jammed him a bit. But the burly standout was able to muscle it the other way for a go-ahead homer.
"I was happy to see something a little faster," Moriarty said. "That's something that I'm more used to, and after the first couple of pitches, I just relaxed. I got my timing after the first two pitches and I fisted it and luckily it went out."
Shiloh manager Bubba Krout wasn't pleased to see the big right-handed-hitting slugger come up in that situation.
"He's a good hitter," Krout said. "And good hitters come through in the clutch."
That blow was like a dagger to the hearts of the upset-minded Shockers, who rallied for an improbable 7-6 victory over Jefferson Wednesday. After getting two runs off Mount Wolf starter Dan Dierdorff in the top of the fourth inning, it seemed like the visitors were in good shape, with Stover throwing his variety of junk pitches.
"He hasn't thrown a lot for us this year," Krout said. "But he gave us all that he could, and that's all that we can ask for."
Dierdorff shines for Wolves: The Wolves finally got to Stover in the fifth for a single run. A one-out single by Kyle Cook and a two-out single by Devin Blymire set the table for Dierdorff. After getting hit by a pitch and striking out in his previous two plate appearances, Dierdorff was patient enough to wait on a pitch that he drove into left field for an RBI single.
"I don't want to say we struggle with a junk-ball pitcher, but it definitely takes a couple of innings to get adjusted," Dierdorff said. "We're a pretty good fastball-hitting team. But (Stover) did a real nice job of throwing everything he wanted, wherever he wanted. He did a really good job."
Much the same can be said about Dierdorff, who only allowed two hits en route to picking up the complete-game victory. The West Virginia grad struck out 10 and walked one.
Once his team got their ace the lead in the sixth, it was pretty much lights out for the Shockers. With shade covering the pitching mound, it was very difficult for even the catcher, Blymire, to see Dierdorff's pitches all the way in.
"Devin said he had trouble finding the ball out of my hand," Dierdorff said. "And if he had trouble seeing it, I'm sure it was just as bad for them. I said, 'you just put your glove up and I'll throw whatever.' It worked out."
Familiar territory for Shiloh: Shiloh, the No. 3 seed, is back in familiar territory. The Shockers also dropped Game 1 of their first-round series against the Titans, only to rally to claim the final two games.
Krout is hoping his Shockers can repeat the feat to get into the finals.
"We jumped on top of them 2-0 and let them back in it," Krout said. "And they're a hell of a ball team, so you can't just get up on them and coast. You have to keep doing it. Now we're in the same boat we were in with the Jefferson series and we'll see where this takes us."
Shiloh scored both of its runs and had both of its hits in the fourth. Back-to-back singles by Ryan Stough and Jacob Molison started the frame. After a walk to Brett Kinneman loaded the bases, the Shockers were able to score a pair of runs on ground outs by Cole Bixler and Carson Fries.
The only other batter to reach base against Dierdorff was Brandon Wetzel, who reached on an error in the third.
OTHER CENTRAL LEAGUE GAME
Glen Rock 8, Stoverstown 0: At Glen Rock, the regular-season champion rolled in its 2015 postseason debut behind a three-hit shutout from Josh Houser. Houser struck out three and walked three. Dan Rhodes (two hits, two RBIs, one run), Justin Anderson (homer, two RBIs, two runs) and Luke Knott (hit, two RBIs) paced the Glen Rock offense. Troy Miller, Scott Merkel and Matt Gonzalez added doubles for the winners. Nick Spangler had two of Stoverstown's three hits. Game 2 in the best-of-3 semifinal series is set for Saturday at Stoverstown.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.