Stoverstown ends season with shut-out win at Kerrigan Memorial Tournament

For The York Dispatch/@YAScores

MANCHESTER — After 20-plus years of baseball, Zach Schuler knew his last game would be the final one that Stoverstown played this season.

Hoping it would be in the finals of the Tom Kerrigan Memorial Tournament, Schuler and his Tigers made good on that this weekend. 

After sweeping the pool Saturday, the Tigers won two games Sunday to advance to Monday’s final.

That set the stage for Schuler’s curtain call against longtime Central League rival Manchester.

Starting in centerfield, the longtime Tiger standout showed that maybe, just maybe, he shouldn’t hang it up just yet.

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Schuler made two nice catches in center Monday, but it was his third-inning, two-out double that was the catalyst for a two-run Stoverstown rally that proved to be decisive. 

Schuler’s run off a throwing error was all that Tigers starter Joe Yourgal would need as the right-hander limited the Indians to just five hits over seven scoreless innings to pick up the victory in a 2-0 triumph.

Terrific season: Monday’s victory capped off a terrific season by a Stoverstown organization that won the CL regular season, York County and Tom Kerrigan championships with a sparking 35-4 record.

“I thought this game would be a little more higher scoring than that,” Schuler said. “They have a great lineup over there (in Manchester’s dugout) and they have a great team, so to come out here and shut them out is very impressive.”

So, too, was the Tigers season in whole. Stoverstown began the year with 20 straight wins. The Tigers then rolled to the York County crown with a sweep of Susquehanna League champion Windsor. Finally, they capped it off with a perfect 6-0 record in the Kerrigan, where Yourgal earned two victories.

The California University of Pennsylvania grad was downright filthy for the Tigers over the weekend. The right-hander threw 12 innings in total while allowing just 10 hits and two runs.

“Joe is just an all-around great player,” Schuler said. “He’s humble and he just goes out and does his job every time. He always pitches well and he wants the ball in big games.”

For Manchester: The fact that Yourgal hampered a Manchester lineup that was on a tear over the weekend was evidence enough. He held the tournament’s MVP, Jonah Latshaw, without a hit Monday. Latshaw entered the contest on an 11-for-17 tear as the Indians leadoff hitter, which often led to big innings as his team put up 56 runs over seven contest (8.0 runs per game).

Not so Monday, as Yourgal scattered five singles while walking just one to limit the Manchester attack.

“I’ve thrown against them a lot over the last few years,” Yourgal said. “And they used to hit me around all of the time, but all those times pitching against them I kind of learned what they liked and didn’t like. As you saw today I just kind of tried to keep it away from them and get some movement on it.”

From left, Stoverstown’s Pedro Santiago looks on as Mark Burnside, Joe Yourgal and Zach Schuler celebrate a 2-0 win over Manchester during Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament final game action in Manchester, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert/The York Dispatch

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Game play: Yourgal’s gem, however, might have gone to waste had it not been for Stoverstown’s all-time greats. One of the all-time leaders (if not the all-time leader) in steals and runs scored in CL history, Schuler roped a double off the fence in left-center off Manchester starter Jordan Nichols.

Sam Crater followed with a grounder up the middle that forced Manchester second-baseman Brendan Martin to dive to get it. Instead of holding on to it, Martin attempted an off-balance throw to get Crater at first. The ball, however, sailed past Adam Kipp, allowing Schuler to race around third and score the game-winning run and Crater to get to second.

Crater later scored on a RBI double when Brendan Warner laced a double to make it 2-0.

“His last game that he’ll ever play and he takes one to the fence,” Yourgal said of Schuler. “I don’t think he’s shown that kind of power all year, but he’s a hell of a player.”

Those two runs were plenty enough for Yourgal even as Manchester turned to the tournament’s Most Outstanding Pitcher Kody Reeser in relief. Reeser shut down the Tigers on just one hit over the final 3⅓ innings to keep the Indians in it.

Reeser threw a total of 11⅓ scoreless innings over the weekend, allowing just seven hits while fanning seven to best Yourgal for the honor.

“He’s a hell of a pitcher too,” Yourgal said of Reeser. “He threw well today. It wasn’t his fault that he didn’t start I guess. I gave up two runs the first game, but he gave up nothing all tournament so he deserves it.”

Stoverstown celebrates a 2-0 win over Manchester during Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament final game action in Manchester, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert/The York Dispatch

York County teams: Monday’s all-CL final marked the first occurrence of that in quite some time. CL president Mark Skehan believes the last time that happened was back in the mid-1990s.

“Yeah, it’s been a long time,” Skehan said.

All in all, it was a great performance for all of the York County teams that played in the tournament. In addition to the two CL squads making the final, Windsor dropped just one game (9-2 to Manchester in the semifinals) while York Township made it to the semifinals before falling to the Indians (12-5).

In addition, the South Penn all-stars advanced to the semifinals before falling to Stoverstown, 4-3. The Hanover-area squad eliminated defending champ Diamond Academy in the quarterfinals.

South Penn won the third-place contest Monday morning, knocking off Township, 9-1.

While not the outcome that longtime Manchester manager Dave Miller had it mind for Monday’s final, Miller was nonetheless pleased with his team’s performance over the past three days.

“It’s a shame that we kind of bookended it with shutouts,” Miller said in reference to Saturday morning’s 4-0 loss to South Penn to begin pool play. “But we had a blast. Everybody enjoyed playing together and we came together as a team. It was fun, but it was unfortunate that we couldn’t win it.”