GLEN ROCK — Baseball is a game full of superstitions.
Many of the superstitions vary from player to player, but there are a few that are nearly universal.
One of the more common superstitions was broken Thursday evening when Jefferson took on Glen Rock in a Central League battle. Jefferson paid the price for breaking the superstition.
It's generally accepted that teammates don't talk about a no-hitter to a pitcher while it's still going on. But after Jefferson starter Stephen Porter pitched five innings without yielding a hit, a teammate inadvertently let Porter know about it. Sure enough, things spiraled out of control quickly.
Porter’s no-hit bid was broken in the bottom of the sixth on a single from Glen Rock’s Brad McCullough. Porter, who has had some arm issues recently, then took himself out of the game. It didn’t take long for things to unravel after that. The home team plated five runs in the inning to cut a seven-run deficit to two.
It didn’t get any better in the seventh.The home team evened the score on Scott Merkel’s two-run single. Moments later, Alex Coombes ripped a single into left that plated Dan Rhodes with the game-winning run in what was a thrilling 8-7 victory for Glen Rock.
“We had them exactly where we wanted them,” said Rhodes, who was definitely joking.
After McCullough’s hit, Glen Rock took advantage of a serious bout of wildness by Titans reliever Andrew Kashner, who walked three, allowed four hits and gave up seven runs over 1 1/3 innings. Jordan Watkins also struggled, allowing the hits by Merkel and Coombes, which set off a huge celebration on the field for the home club.
“You could feel it in the dugout,” Rhodes said. “We were a little bit quiet, but then that one big hit happened and it gave us a spark. Things went from like complete misery, for lack of a better word, to complete elation. You don’t see this kind of stuff too often anymore.”
Rhodes gave some of the credit for the team’s never-give-up attitude to new skipper Jeff Stiffler, who stepped into the manager's role in the offseason, after former manager Marty Heyne stepped away to care for his ailing mother.
The defending league champs have been none-the-worse for the change. Stiffler carries a lot of the same upbeat qualities that Heyne displayed. He was out in the third-base coaching box cheering on his hitters all while they were hitless. That tone never swayed when the team began its memorable comeback, which a veteran such as Rhodes can appreciate.
“He kept us up,” Rhodes said. “He was still excited, even when we were down 7-0. He’s always positive.”
Stiffler, whose team improved to 13-6, definitely enjoyed the final two innings.
“This was a great game,” he said with a smile. “Just an awesome game. We were down, but then we just sparked. And we never quit.”
While it was great for his team, he did have a touch of empathy for the Jefferson players.
“That’s a tough loss for those guys,” Stiffler said. “Their guy (Porter) pitched a great game.”
Jefferson manager Pat Schultz was understandably dumbfounded.
“It fell apart quickly on us there,” Schultz said. “I don’t know… but I’ll probably second-guess myself for a while.”
Most of the teams in the league will be off for the next week due to the Independence Day holiday.
“We were planning on having a party and stuff,” said Schultz, whose team dropped to 10-4-2. “But now I’m not so sure.”
Notes: Watkins finished 4 for 4 with two RBIs for Jefferson, while Porter and Joe Jasinski each ripped two hits for the Titans. Merkel (2 for 4) drove in three runs for Glen Rock to help McCullough pick up the victory in relief after pitching two scoreless innings.
Manchester 9, Shiloh 7: At Shiloh, Levi Rentzel's two-run single in the top of the sixth broke a 7-7 tie and gave the visitors the lead for good. For the game, Rentzel went 2 for 4. Also for Manchester, Logan Allison went 2 for 2, while Matt Jordan went 2 for 4. For Shiloh, Jesse Bortner went 2 for 3, while Dillon Schwartzer went 2 for 5, including a double.
Pleasureville 7, Dillsburg 6: At Pleasureville, Chet Haifley (4 for 4, two runs, one RBI), Tyler Wagner (3 for 4, three RBIs, one run) and Clint Bohn (3 for 4, one RBI, one run) paced the Hawks' 13-hit attack. Joey Deluca (two hits, two RBIs) and Greg Harris (two hits, one RBI) led Dillsburg.
Stoverstown def. Dover by forfeit: At Dover, the first-place Tigers got the forfeit win when Dover showed up without enough players. Stoverstown improved to 14-4.
East Prospect 20, Red Lion 3: At East Prospect, D.J. Ream led the the home team by going 3 for 3, including a homer, with four RBIs and two runs scored. Also for Prospect, Matt Shatto went 2 for 3 with three RBIs and two runs scored; Ryky Smith went 2 for 2 with two runs scored and two RBIs; Matt Witmer went 2 for 4, including a double, with two runs scored and one RBI; Ryan Saxman went 2 for 3 with four runs scored and two RBIs; Devin Strickler had two runs scored and two RBIs; and Mark Schauren had three RBIs. For Red Lion, Daulton Martin went 2 for 3 with one run scored and one RBI.Second-place East Prospect improved to 15-5.
Hallam 6, Conrads 3: At Hallam, Brad Smith led the home team by going 2 for 3, including a triple, and collecting three RBIs. Also for Hallam, Zach Zambito went 2 for 3, including a double; Dalton Renn was 2 for 2; Jaron Shimmel went 2 for 3; Eric McNeil doubled; and Brian Crumbling and Travis Stump combined for eight strikeouts and four walks on the mound. For Conrads, Rick Thompson and Jackson Marshall each doubled. First-place Hallam improved to 18-3.
Pleasureville 16, Spring Grove 4: At Pleasureville, Beau Burris led the home team to the victory, connecting for two hits and collecting three RBIs. Burris also picked up the win on the mound, throwing for 6 2/3 innings, striking out four and not allowing any earned runs. Joe Kroeger had three hits, two RBIs and a run scored for the winners. Nick Starr had two hits, two RBIs and three runs scored for the winners. Pleasureville improved to 8-2-2.
Dallastown 15, Stewartstown 4 (6 Innings): At Stewartstown, Eric Morrison led the visitors to the victory by going 3 for 5, including a homer and a double, and collecting five RBIs. Also for Dallastown, Zach Ness went 2 for 4 with a double, Keegan Wolf went 2 for 4 with a double, Cody Summerville went 2 for 4 and Chris DeMarco went 2 for 4. Dallastown improved to 9-4-0.
Correction: Pleasureville's Alex Myers didn't allow a hit over four innings on Wednesday against York in American Legion action. Pleasureville won the game, 15-0, in four innings. Myers gets credit for an abbreviated no-hitter.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.