CENTRAL LEAGUE: Dierdorff sparks Mount Wolf to win
- Mount Wolf defeated Pleasureville on Thursday evening, 5-4.
- The Wolves won the best-of-three first-round Central League series, 2-0.
- Mount Wolf now plays Stoverstown in a best-of-three semifinal series.
PLEASUREVILLE — While Dan Dierdorff may no longer be the bright-eyed 15-year-old kid sitting on the bench awaiting his turn to play for his beloved Mount Wolf club, the former Northeastern High School standout still remembers a thing or two from those days.
It also doesn’t hurt that, as an assistant coach at his alma matter, he’s constantly preaching advice to his players during contests.
Thursday evening at Pleasureville in Game 2 of a first-round Central League playoff series with the Hawks, Dierdorff took his own advice and it paid off handsomely for his ball club.
Dierdorff, running with energy of high school teen, singled with one out in the seventh inning of a tie contest to get his team going. The Mount Wolf captain, however, anticipated a possible double off the bat and ran hard around first base. Sure enough, a slight bobble out in center field allowed Dierdorff to advance to second easily.
Moments later, Dierdorff did it again, taking third easily on a delayed steal. That was big. He scored a few pitches later when Steve Pokopec’s chopper went past the shortstop, allowing Dierdorff to score the go-ahead run.
That was all that Mount Wolf starter Mark Burnside needed. He retired the side in order in the seventh to nail down a series-clinching 5-4 victory.
The Wolves, who tallied nine hits in the triumph, advance to the best-of-three league semifinals Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Stoverstown. The other semifinal will pit regular-season champ Jefferson against Manchester Saturday, with that game starting at 11 a.m. at Jefferson.
“Last inning, the game’s tied, one out … you have to be aggressive there,” Dierdorff said. “We always coach our kids in high school to be aggressive at second and to be aggressive at third with one out. I knew I was going to at least try for second out of the box, because a lot of these guys have been kind of nonchalant about things and I’m guilty of it too, but the entire game they were doing it and you have to take advantage of it.”
It only seemed appropriate that Dierdorff was the catalyst for sending his team into the next round of the playoffs. After the Wolves sputtered down the stretch of the regular season to fall from first to third place, Dierdorff has been like a man on a mission to get his team back where he believes it should be.
In Game 1 on Tuesday, Dierdorff struck out 17 batters, including 10 in a row, to help his team earn a 5-0 victory. Thursday he was at it again, this time going 4 for 4 at the plate while scoring three of his team’s five runs.
“It’s the playoffs and Dan’s the cream of the crop,” Mount Wolf teammate Adam Hoff.
“He’s the best player in the league for a reason,” Wolves skipper Tim Brenner added. “He’s on a mission from God, I’ll tell you that.”
Dierdorff’s heroics, however, may not have been enough had it not been for some help from a Pleasureville side that edged out Shiloh for the final playoff berth. The home team led 4-2 in the top of the fifth before a couple of errors allowed the Wolves to even the score.
The Mount Wolf defense also did no favors for Burnside in the third inning. The Hawks scored all four of their runs in that frame with the help of a couple errors.
So while Burnside’s pitching line includes seven innings, five hits allowed, nine strikeouts and one walk, all four of his runs allowed were unearned. In fact only one of the runs scored Thursday was earned.
A run is a run no matter its official scoring and the Wolves will gladly take them as they move on with their season.
“This feels real good,” Dierdorff said. “We didn’t end the season the best way and we didn’t play our best baseball at the time that we’re supposed to. But now it seems like we’re starting to pick it up a bit and we’re ready to fire off the right cylinders at the right time.”
Clint Bohn, who was on the mound in the seventh for Pleasureville, and Matt Meyer each collected two hits for Pleasureville. Scott Ream drove in two runs with a double in the fourth for the Hawks.
LEAGUE PLAYOFF GAME
Manchester 3, Glen Rock 2: At Glen Rock, Matt Jordan led the visitors by going 2 for 4, including a solo homer in the sixth. Also for Manchester, Logan Allison went 2 for 3 with a double, Chris Biechler doubled and Jason Kelly threw a complete game, striking out two, walking none and allowing two hits. For Glen Rock, Dan Rogers homered, Bryan Procopio doubled and Casey Hood started the game on the mound, throwing six-plus innings, striking out five, walking one and charged with one earned run. Manchester won the best-of-three first-round series, 2-0, and will move on to the best-of-three semifinals and will face Jefferson in Game 1 at 11 a.m. Saturday at Jefferson.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.