JACOBUS — Winning the so-called 'Grand Slam' of local sandlot baseball is a lot more difficult in reality than it is to the imagination.
For instance, Glen Rock — an organization that has won several Central League regular season and playoff, York County Championship and Tom Kerrigan Colonial York Tournaments (2007, 2008) — has never won all four in the same year.
Manger Marty Heyne and his crew are hoping that this is the year they break through. 'The Rock', winners of the both the Central League regular season and playoff crowns, moved one step closer Sunday afternoon at Jacobus in Game 2 of the York County Championship Series.
And only fittingly, it was a combination of the new and the old that helped Glen Rock take their third step along the path to a milestone. Homeruns by veterans Dan Rhodes and Brad McCullough were enough offense for southpaw Casey Hood, who started his first York County Championship contest. Hood dominated a potent Jackals lineup, holding the Susquehanna League champs to just three hits and a run over seven innings.
With their 6-1 victory, the boys from Glen Rock will look to finish off their impressive season next weekend with another victory at the Colonial Tournament.
"This feels great," said Heyne moments before getting a ceremonial water cooler dousing followed by a pie in the face. "This has been a good season. Everything has gone along good. And we've had a little plan to kind of do things and it's all been (aided) by team camaraderie."
Heyne and his players joyfully took pictures with the York County Championship trophy before scheming to give their skipper a little victory dessert.
Such wasn't the first time that Rhodes has been a part of this type of scene. A 16 year veteran with the 'The Rock', Rhodes has seen and been through it all. A lot of those times were when Rhodes was just one of the young guys on the squad. Now he's looked up to as the team's captain.
"This is great," he said. "This is what we've been wanting to do all year. We've done this before, but we have a bunch of younger guys and it's pretty much like a whole new team basically."
Rhodes put his team ahead for good in the first. After Troy Miller singled, Miller was subsequently picked off first by Jacobus starter Kerry Clark. That proved significant as Rhodes has often sacrificed in the No. 2 slot in the order to move runners up a base.
With Miller no longer on base, however, Rhodes was able to swing away. He drove the next pitch he saw from Clark over the fence in right field to make it a 1-0 contest.
"It just happened," Rhodes said. "It was a low and inside pitch a fastball and I just turned on it. But if (Miller) was still on there, I would have probably bunted."
A few inning later it was McCullough's time to shine. Known more for his dominating performances on the mound, B-Mac has been one of Glen Rock's better hitters this season. He showed that in the fourth by ripping a shot over the fence in left to make it 2-0.
Hood was cruising up to that point through three innings before getting into a bit of a mess in the fourth. With two outs, a single by Drew Kelley was followed by a walk to Austin Calaman. That brought up Anthony Ferrell who drove the first pitch he saw into the gap in right center that scored Kelley to make it 2-1.
But with the go-ahead runner on second, Hood was able to get Clark to ground out to second to end the inning.
"The first couple of innings they were swinging early in the counts," Hood said. "And I was able to miss the barrels a bit. I got in trouble in the fourth and walked a guy. But just trying to pound the zone and stay on top."
Hood got some insurance runs in the sixth as Miller singled in a run before first baseball Justin Anderson ripped a two-run single down the line in right to make it 5-1.
While Hood was on his game, it probably helped that he faced a Jacobus lineup that hasn't been in gear in quite a while. The Jackals last played three weeks ago after getting ousted from the Susquehanna League playoffs by eventual champion Conrads.
"They're a good team," Jacobus manager Jed Larkin said. "But they got us at the same time that (our lineup) went cold. Going back to Conrads, we only scored seven runs in three games. If we were hitting it would have been more of a balanced series."
The champions pounded out 14 hits against Clark and Ferrell, who pitched the final inning. McCullough led the way with three hits, while Miller, Rhodes, Scott Merkel and Matt Gonzalez all collected two hits apiece.
Both teams will continue their seasons Saturday morning as the Tom Kerrigan Colonial York Tournament gets underway with a field of 17 clubs. Glen Rock will face Cly at 1 p.m. on their home field. Jacobus will play Lehigh Valley at the same time at Manchester.
In addition to those two, three other clubs are entered in the draw. Conrads, the playoff champs of the Susquehanna League, will play at 1 p.m. against Burlington at Pleasureville. Mount Wolf, the regular season and playoff runners-up in the Central League, host Centre County at 10 a.m. Saturday. The other team entered is Hallam, who essentially paid their way into the tournament draw after losing in the Susquehanna League playoff semifinals to East Prospect. The Express will square off with Delco at 10 a.m. at Shiloh.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com