SUSQUEHANNA: East Prospect rolls into next round
- Ben Achenbach's first-inning grand slam sparked East Prospect.
- The Pistons will now face Jacobus in a best-of-three semifinal series.
- Game 1 of the semifinal series will be at 5:45 p.m. Thursday at East Prospect.
EAST PROSPECT — This is Ben Achenbach's time on the baseball field.
"We call him 'Playoff Bennie' because he always does so well in the playoffs," said Achenbach's manager, Mark Toomey.
Achenbach had only one hit in Tuesday evening's deciding Susquehanna League playoff game against York Township, but it was a huge one.
The East Prospect third baseman connected on a 2-1 pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning and drove the ball over the fence in left-center field. The grand slam snapped a 1-1 tie and set the tone for the rest of the game. East Prospect rolled to a 12-1 victory and into the league semifinals.
The Pistons will take on Jacobus in a best-of-three semifinal match-up, which begins on Thursday evening (5:45 p.m.) at East Prospect.
"I wanted to make something happen there (in the first inning), that's for sure," Achenbach said."I was struggling the last couple of games. I haven't played as much this year."
Achenbach wasn't the only one on his team to make something happen. Tanner Forry finished just a triple short of hitting for the cycle with a home run, single, double and four RBIs, and Anthony Torreullas added two hits and a terrific defensive play in left field when he made a diving catch in the top of the third inning.
The Pistons also took advantage of 10 walks issued by Township's pitchers.
Meanwhile, East Prospect starting pitcher Seth Lefever went the distance, holding the visitors to three hits. The left-hander, who will graduate from Shippensburg University in December, struck out five batters and walked four.
Lefever got in a groove after the first batter of the game, Jake Reichard, doubled, and the second batter, Austin Martinez, walked.
"I hadn't thrown in a week, so my arm was a little iffy," Lefever said. "But, it felt good after I settled down. Ben's hit was really big. I gave up a run in the first inning, and to come back (in the bottom half of the inning) and be up, 5-1, you can't complain about that."
York Township, the seventh-seeded team, played David and tried to take down Goliath (second-seeded East Prospect), but the giant prevailed in a series that went the limit.
"When we jumped out, I was more relaxed this game than the other two," Toomey said. "They (York Township) have a nice young team, and they pushed us."
York Township won the opening game, 9-6, and East Prospect took the second game, 7-4.
Achenbach helped Toomey relax with a single swing of the bat.
The veteran is in his 16th Susquehanna League season, and his 10th with East Prospect.
"I keep saying this is my last year, we'll see," Achenbach said. "Everyone says you can keep playing, but I feel old, and I feel sore."
Achenbach also does a lot behind the scenes for his team. He's an integral part of the pre-game work crew.
"I help open the concession stand, get the (batting) cage out, water the field. There's a lot of work to be done, but it's not just me. There were a lot of guys helping out tonight," he said.
While Achenbach and his teammates prepare for Jacobus, York Township, with a roster dominated by young players, will look forward to next season.
""We battled all year, I can't complain about the effort," Township manager Robin Striebig said. "I have to give credit to East Prospect. They're a really good team. They're solid from top to the bottom of the lineup, and they really make your pitchers work."
Reichard had two hits for York Township in its final game of the season.
LEAGUE PLAYOFF GAMES
Jacobus 3, Stewartstown 2: At Jacobus, Jed Larkin's solo homer in the bottom of the sixth broke a 2-2 tie and gave the home team the lead for good. Jacobus won the best-of-three first-round series, 2-1, and advances to the league playoff semifinals. Also for Jacobus, Brian Crimmel went 2 for 3, while Kerry Clark threw a complete game to get the win. For Stewartstown, Cody Brittain hit a two-run homer in the top of the first, Craig Martin went 2 for 3 and Blake Kendrick threw a complete game.
Hallam 12, Windsor 0: At Hallam, Colby Shimmel led the Express to the victory by starting the game on the mound and throwing six shutout innings, striking out nine and walking none. Hallam won the best-of-three quarterfinal series, 2-1. Shimmel also connected at the plate, going 3 for 4, including a solo homer in the fourth. Also for Hallam, Eric McNeil went 2 for 4, including a double, while collecting six RBIs. Dalton Renn went 2 for 3. Hallam now begins its best-of-three semifinal series vs. Red Lion at home at 5:45 p.m. Thursday.
Reach Dick VanO'Linda at email@example.com.