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Glen Rock wins Central League title in controversial fashion

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
@ydsports

MECHANICSBURG – It’s always entertaining to see teams celebrate series-clinching victories on the field.

Unfortunately, there was none of that Thursday night in Game 4 of the best-of-five Central League playoff final between Glen Rock and Mechanicsburg.

Leading the series 2-1, the visitors rallied from an early deficit, battled back again after the Cardinals tied it up in the third and then hung on after Mechanicsburg fought to cut into a five-run deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning.

After recording the final out of the frame, the Cards took the field expecting to play the seventh inning. A meeting between the two umpires initially expanded to include both managers as well as CL vice president Judy Cutright to discuss if it was too dark to continue play.

Confusion ensued. Mechanicsburg believed that the game would be resumed in the seventh inning Saturday, but since the game was “official,” having completed at least five innings, Glen Rock was ruled the winner, 8-6.

The victory clinched the playoff title for “The Rock” after it won Game 2, Game 3 and Game 4 to take the series 3-1.

The only thing missing was a proper celebration. The Glen Rock players were still unsure if they indeed won the game. It was only after manager Mike Knott informed his club (now 22-8) of the ruling that the realization sunk in.

“It was a really good series,” Knott said. “For both sides. They are a really talented team.”

Cooke praised: Knott credited starter Steve Cooke for putting the team in position to clinch the series before a possible do-or-die Game 5, which would have been played Saturday at Glen Rock. 

Steve Cooke delivers for Glen Rock as they face Mechanicsburg for game 4 of the best of five Central League baseball playoff series, Thursday, August 27, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Cooke, who earned the victory Sunday in Game 2, kept the Cardinals' bats in check until running into trouble in the sixth. Pitching on just three days rest, the right-hander struck out six while scattering 10 hits, most of which came in a three-run seventh by Mechanicsburg.

“They’re a good hitting team,” Cooke said. “They started putting the bat on the ball there (in the sixth). I just pitched against them a few days ago and I think they adjusted and were finally starting to sit on some of my pitches.”

Cooke was forced to throw on short rest because teammate James Wiercinski was unavailable because of an ankle injury suffered in Game 1. Wiercinski was slated to pitch Game 3, which was instead handed off to Game 1 starter Conor Miller on just two days rest.

Fortunately for Cooke and Miller, a pivotal Game 5 wasn’t necessary, thanks in part to a prolific offense.

“We’ve been hitting the ball all season,” Cooke said of his team, which pounded out nine hits. “The offense has really led us to the championship this year.”

The triumph earned Glen Rock a berth into the prestigious Tom Kerrigan Memorial Colonial Tournament next weekend. They will be joined by regular-season CL and defending Colonial champ Jefferson for the Labor Day draw.

Dan Rhodes connects with an RBI single for Glen Rock in the top of the sixth inning against Mechanicsburg during game 4 of the best of five Central League baseball playoff series, Thursday, August 27, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Notes: Dan Rhodes, Brendan Martin and Kevin Kopas each collected two hits for Glen Rock. Rhodes also drew a pair of walks while driving in two runs.

Ryan Wentzel drove in three runs for Mechanicsburg, including a two-run single in the sixth inning that brought the tying runs up to the plate for the Cardinals.

Mechanicsburg, in its first year in the Central League, finished 15-13.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.