LOCAL BASEBALL: Kelly hurls Manchester past Mount Wolf
- Manchester's Jason Kelly pitched complete-game four-hitter vs. Mount Wolf on Wednesday.
- Austin Allison drove in all four Manchester runs in the 4-2 victory over the Wolves.
- Manchester improved to 18-10-2 in the Central League. Mount Wolf fell to 20-9.
MANCHESTER — There’s a saying in baseball that you need to get to good pitchers early. If you don’t, you might not get to them at all.
Visiting Mount Wolf took that advice to heart Wednesday evening against crosstown rival Manchester and its ace, Jason Kelly.
There was just one problem for the Wolves. The runs they got early vs. the veteran hurler didn't prove to be enough.
After hitting the leadoff batter in the first inning, Kelly surrendered a two-run homer to Dustin Kuhn. The Shippensburg University product, however, settled down after Kuhn’s blast. He held the Wolves to just two hits and no more runs over the final six-plus innings.
Kelly’s teammates did the rest, scoring twice in the bottom of the first to even the score before adding two more in the fifth in what turned out to be a 4-2 triumph.
Manchester improved to 18-10-2 with the victory while also putting a serious dent in Mount Wolf’s chances to capture the Central League regular-season crown. The Wolves fell to 20-9 with three games left in the season.
“I know that everybody on this team is going to give me everything to the best of their ability,” Manchester manager Dave Miller said. “And they’ll try to keep us in the game. We know that we have to hit and score some runs. If we don’t score runs, like (Tuesday) night, where we lose 2-0 (to Jefferson), you’re not going to win many games that way.”
The Indians' quick answer to Mount Wolf’s early 2-0 lead was huge factor in the game. A one-out walk by Trey McWilliams, followed by a double by Logan Allison, set up the home team in the first against Wolves starter Dan Dierdorff. After Dierdorff fanned Dan Sepic for the second out of the inning, Austin Allison smoked a two-run single that evened the contest.
Austin Allison (3 for 3, four RBIs) again proved to be a thorn in Dierdorff’s side in the fifth. A leadoff double by McWilliams, a one-out walk to Sepic and a wild pitch set up Allison up once more. The Manchester catcher singled in both runners to put his team ahead for good.
“Austin had a heck of a night,” Miller said. “He’s filling in as catcher for us and he does a good job there. I’m afraid that sometimes, when he’s catching, he doesn’t hit because he worries about calling the pitches and those type of things, but Austin is a gamer. Both of the Allison boys are. They come up clutch and they don’t back down from anybody.”
Allison’s big game was more than enough for the 29-year-old Kelly. The only trouble he got into came in the top of the fifth when he allowed the first two batters of the frame to single. After a bunt moved them into scoring position, he got fortunate when a grounder to Logan Allison at short was hit hard enough for Allison to gun down the runner trying to score from third for the second out.
Kelly then struck out Dierdorff to end the inning. He wasn’t threatened again.
While Kelly knew this game was important in the standings for both clubs — but probably more so for Mount Wolf — he tried to block out any thoughts of that.
“Sometimes watching the standings doesn’t help,” he said. “And, to be honest with you, it probably puts more pressure on you, instead of just going out and trying to win one game and letting everything else fall into place, just focus on the game tonight. And I think that’s what we all did. We had a rough go last night and we definitely needed a win.”
While Kelly is arguably one of the best pitchers in the entire league, the veteran right-hander isn’t out there pitching his heart out only for himself. The entire Manchester club has the feel of a college team, with everyone — starters and reserves — cheering on their teammates. If that feeling wasn’t there, Kelly suggested he’d probably not be pitching any longer.
“We have a great group of guys here,” said Kelly, who played in the West Shore Twilight League before joining Manchester several years ago. “And they’re the only reason I keep playing. Any one of these years here I could just hang it up, but these guys keep me around. There’s a lot of mileage and I’ve done a lot of pitching over my years. It’s taken a toll, but I still love it.”
Central League race filled with drama: Manchester finishes up the regular season with a road game at Glen Rock Thursday before hosting Dover Saturday. The Wolves, who have dropped three of their last four games, travel to Jefferson Thursday before taking on Dillsburg and Dover this weekend.
League-leading Stoverstown (22-8) visits Shiloh Thursday before the Tigers wrap up the regular season at home Saturday against Pleasureville.
Jefferson (20-6-3) earned a forfeit victory Wednesday against Dillsburg. The Titans host Mount Wolf Thursday in a pivotal contest for the Titans. Jefferson also hosts Shiloh and Pleasureville for a doubleheader Saturday to end the regular season.
While Stoverstown leads the league at this point, if Jefferson wins out, it will capture the regular-season title for the first time in its history.
Shiloh 5, Glen Rock 1: At Glen Rock, Chase James led the visitors by going 3 for 4, including a double, with one RBI. Shiloh starting pitcher Alec Gibbons threw five-plus innings, while striking out five and walking two to pick up the win. Eric Zearfoss completed the game by striking out two and walking none. Shiloh also received a double from Ryan Stough. For Glen Rock, Andy Rosenzweig went 2 for 3 and threw a complete game on the mound, striking out three and walking two. Rosenzweig allowed no earned runs. Glen Rock committed seven errors.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.