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Stoverstown wins opener of Central League title series

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
505-5403/@ydsports
  • Stoverstown now leads the best-of-three Central League title series, 1-0.
  • Game 2 of the series is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Manchester.
  • Game 3, if needed, is set for 1:30 p.m. Sunday back at Stoverstown.

STOVERSTOWN – Perhaps having a few days of extra rest was not ideal for the Manchester Indians.

The Indians entered the best-of-three Central League Playoff Championship Series against Stoverstown on a roll.

Stoverstown's Jordan Lehman, throws a pitch during the fifth inning of a Central League baseball title series game one against Manchester Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Stoverstown. Stoverstown won 5-1. Amanda J. Cain photo

After sweeping their semifinal series with Jefferson Sunday afternoon, manager Dave Miller’s club was able to watch the third-and-deciding contest of the other semifinal Tuesday.

Manchester had won all four of its previous playoff contests and its bats were red hot.

Those bats, however, were significantly cooled by Stoverstown standout Jordan Lehman. Using a new pre-game routine designed to help him get off to a better start, Lehman was in control throughout. The right-hander limited Manchester to one run and four hits over seven innings. He needed just 73 pitches to help the Tigers to a 5-1 triumph.

Stoverstown's Brandon Warner, tries to get back to first base during the fifth inning of a Central League baseball title series game one against Manchester Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Stoverstown. Stoverstown won 5-1. Amanda J. Cain photo

Stoverstown now leads the best-of-three series 1-0 with Game 2 scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Manchester.

“Best performance he’s had here since he’s been at Stoverstown,” said Tigers manager Tim Thoman. “He’s had some pretty good performances before, but tonight was a little bit different. He went in with a different approach.”

That approach seemed to pay off. Lehman cruised through the first two innings, quickly retiring the Manchester lineup in order in both frames.

“We asked him to warm up a little bit longer before the beginning of the game,” Thoman said. “The first inning has really been his downfall when he struggles. And he wasn’t overpowering, but he left his defense do some of the work. He got them to swing and get contact with pitches and we made a couple double plays.”

The only blemish on Lehman’s ledger came in the third. A leadoff walk to Josh Reeser was cashed in by the Indians when Jonah Latshaw connected for a two-out single that scored Reeser, putting Manchester ahead 1-0.

That lead didn’t last long. Stoverstown got to Manchester starter Jason Kelly for a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, the Tigers strung together three straight singles by Brandon Warner, Zach Schuler and Levi Krause, who drove in both Warner and Schuler, to take a 2-1 lead.

It stayed that way until the Tigers put the game away in the sixth. A leadoff homer by Austin Botts, back-to-back doubles by J.W. Besore and Nick Spangler and a single by Ryan Kehr made it 5-1.

That was plenty for Lehman, who retired the final 11 batters he faced.

“Jordan was working on top of his hitters,” Thoman said. “And that helps a lot. He struggles when he goes deep into counts and that’s when he has tough outings. But, tonight…. he was just lights out.”

Dan Sepic collected half of Manchester’s four hits. Kelly was saddled with the loss after allowing five runs on eight hits over six innings.

Besore was the only Stoverstown player with two hits, although seven of the nine batters in the lineup collected hits for the contest.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.