SUSQUEHANNA: Hallam draws first blood vs. Red Lion
- Alex Tucci pitched a complete game to get the win, striking out eight.
- Hallam now leads the best-of-three semifinal series, 1-0.
- Game 2 is set for Saturday afternoon at Red Lion.
HALLAM — Colby Shimmel grew up watching his older cousin, Jaron, play baseball.
"I watched him at Eastern (High School) and I watched him here at Hallam, and now that we're playing together, that's pretty cool," Colby Shimmel said. "I learned from him how to take good at bats, how to hustle, he always hustles, and I just learned how to play the game the right way."
Colby, who's seven years younger than Jaron, put the lessons his cousin taught him to good use in a highly successful high school career (also at Eastern) and in his time with Hallam.
On Thursday evening, the younger Shimmel delivered two hits, a double and a single, and scored a run as the Express defeated Red Lion, 7-1, in the opening game of the best-of-three Susquehanna League semifinal playoff series.
After being retired in his first two at bats, Shimmel singled to right field in his third at bat and drove a ball into the right-center-field gap for a double in his final at bat.
"I was just trying to find a pitch to hit," Shimmel said, when asked about his two-hit performance. "Even though we won the regular-season (title), we still want to win the playoffs. Every game, we're fired up."
Neither team was able to score in Thursday's game until Red Lion broke though for its run in the top of the fifth inning. That seemed to inspire Hallam, which answered with six runs in the bottom of the same inning. The Express batted around, sending 10 batters to the plate.
Jaron Shimmel got things started with a double to deep center field, and Matt Ruth put the cap on the rally by blasting a two-run double. Eric McNeil, Colby Shimmel and Alex Tucci contributed singles, and Angel Matias and Dan Wecker supplied sacrifice flies.
"That's been the story of our season," Hallam manager Terry Golden said. "I bet 75 percent of the times that teams have scored on us, we've responded. Sometimes, it takes a run to wake you up, especially on a hot day like this."
Tucci pitched all seven innings on an extremely uncomfortable evening (the heat index was 92 degrees). The 6-foot, 7-inch left-hander struck out eight and walked three.
"Going back and forth between my fastball and change-up was really working for me," said Tucci, a graduate of York Catholic High School and Virginia Wesleyan College. "It was hot out there, and I was doing whatever I could to get them out as soon as possible."
Tucci's pitching was a key element in the Express' pennant-winning season.
"He's been, in my opinion, the premier pitcher in the league this year," Golden said. "His fastball moves at the end. It's there for you to hit, and then, all of sudden, it dives away from the lefties."
Hallam will attempt to clinch the series on Saturday at Red Lion.
The playoff finals are scheduled to begin next Tuesday. If the Express makes it to the finals. it will be Colby Shimmel's last game this season with the team. He'll leaving for college (Hill Junior College in Texas) on Wednesday.
Shimmel will be missed.
"He's been swinging a great bat all season," Golden said. "We knew he could pitch, but when it comes to hitting, he's right up there with the rest of the guys. This is his third year with the team. A couple of years he sat around and learned from some great players."
Including his cousin.
Brady Taylor cracked two hits, a double and a single, for Red Lion in Thursday's game.
LEAGUE PLAYOFF GAME
Jacobus 7, East Prospect 2: At East Prospect, Anthony Ferrell led the visitors by going 2 for 3 with a double and two runs scored. Also for Jacobus, Drew Kelley had three RBIs, Eric Hamberger went 1 for 1 with two RBIs, Mike Austin had two runs scored, Brian Crimmel doubled and Casey Markey threw a complete game, striking out two and walking one. For East Prospect, Ryky Smith went 3 for 4 with an RBI, Brett Houseal went 3 for 3 and Anthony Torreullas went 2 for 4 with one RBI. Jacobus now leads the semifinal best-of-three series, 1-0. Game 2 is 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Jacobus.
Reach Dick VanO'Linda at email@example.com.