Jacobus wins Susquehanna playoff championship
- Drew Kelley went 4 for 4 for Jacobus with two RBIs.
- Riley Hamberger pitched a two-hit shutout for Jacobus.
- Riley Hamberger's father, Eric Hamberger, hit a three-run homer.
JACOBUS — Jacobus' Drew Kelley had an interesting take on his team's last-inning, stunning loss to Hallam in the opening game of the Susquehanna League Playoff Championship Series.
"After the game, I said to coach (Jed) Larkin, 'I think that was the best thing for us.' It puts us at ease and we have the ability to roll with it. Other teams may get uptight, but we have veteran players who have been here (trailing in a series) before."
Kelley knows his teammates.
Following the 7-6 loss in Game 1, the Jackals turned into a juggernaut, excelling in all three facets of the game: hitting, fielding and pitching.
Jacobus outscored Hallam, 32-3 in the second, third and fourth games of the best-of-five series. The Jackals wrapped up their first playoff title since 2008 by shutting out Hallam, 10-0, on Sunday afternoon.
Kelley led the winners' offense by going 4 for 4 and driving in two runs.
"Come playoff time, we rolled some hits, and it was easy to keep hitting when everyone else was," Kelley said.
Seven of the Jackals' nine starters had at least one hit in Sunday's game. The defense, which has been outstanding throughout the playoffs, made just one error and turned three double plays.
Hambergers shine: The pitching staff recorded a second shutout in the finals, with Riley Hamberger doing the honors this time.
The Dallastown High School graduate, who will attend the University of Pittsburgh this fall, slowed the Express on just two hits, both singles. He struck out three and walked four. Hamberger threw 116 pitches, but 43 of them came in the first two innings.
"I was excited about the start because they had the confidence in me to put me out there today," Hamberger said. "I was a little nervous at the start, but after I got out of the first inning (two runners on base, one out), I felt fine."
Hamberger mixed a fastball, change-up and curve ball.
"I was getting ahead of them, and my change-up was really good," Hamberger said.
Hamberger's teammates gave him plenty of support by pounding out 15 hits. One of the hits, Riley Hamberger will never forget — a three-run home run by his father, Eric Hamberger, who was the Jackals' designated hitter.
The 45-year-old Eric Hamberger, a former pitching star at Red Lion High School, drove an 0-1 pitch over the left-field fence with two runners on in the fifth inning. The blast was part of a seven-run inning.
"That was awesome," Riley Hamberger said. "I talked him into playing (with Jacobus). It's really cool that my dad got to DH for me and went yard for me."
Riley Hamberger wasn't the only one who was happy that his dad joined Jacobus.
"I told him, just go ahead and sign because I may need you," Larkin said. "There were times this year when I looked around, and I had only eight (other players). Eric got hot in the playoffs, He had like three or four home runs. It's a good thing Eric signed, and he was not sitting in the stands."
Larkin praised his players for following up the league's regular-season title last year with the playoff crown this year.
"It's an accomplishment to do it back to back," Larkin said. "This feels good this year to come back after dropping the first game. Being a veteran team, the players can put it (a loss) behind them and come back and play the next day."
Following the victory, Larkin and his players made their way on to the field for a group picture. Shortly afterward, some of the players gave Larkin an unexpected dousing with the contents of a water jug as part of a championship celebration.
Anthony Ferrell delivered three hits for Jacobus, and Kerry Clark and Brian Crimmel supplied two hits each.
The game was scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m., but rain made the field unplayable at that time. The players and coaches worked on the field (the pitching mound and batter's box were covered during the storm) and got it in shape. Hamberger threw the first pitch at 2:17 p.m.
Reach Dick VanO'Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.