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Jefferson, Hallam to battle for county baseball crown

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
505-5403/@ydsports
  • Jefferson and Hallam will play for the York County baseball title this weekend.
  • Game 1 is 1:30 p.m. Saturday at East Prospect.
  • Game 2, and if needed Game 3, is set for Jefferson starting at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Playing this weekend, in its first York County Baseball Championship Series, has been a long time coming for the Jefferson club.

Previously known as the Jefferson Jays for many years, things seemed to take a turn for the better for the organization when it merged with the former Southern Titans back in 2009.

Jefferson's Jon Kibler has pitched to a 1.32 ERA this season.

It was only three years ago that the Titans won the Central League playoffs to earn their first-ever trip to the Tom Kerrigan Colonial York Tournament. Now, after an epic late-season run, Jefferson claimed the Central League regular-season title for the first time in history.

The Titans (23-8-3) will battle Susquehanna League champ Hallam (29-11) this weekend in what figures to be an interesting clash.

“Jefferson has never been here before,” said Jefferson skipper Pat Schultz. “This is our one shot to win counties, ever, and we’ve been around the league for somewhere around 80 years or so. And we had never won a regular-season championship, or a playoff championship before 2013.”

Neither skipper worried about disappointing playoff finishes: Both teams are coming off disappointing ends to their respective league playoff runs. Jefferson was swept in two games by Manchester in the Central League semifinals, while the Express were routed over the final three games of their best-of-five series against Jacobus in the Susquehanna League finals.

Neither Schultz nor Hallam manager Terry Golden, however, is worried about taking his team into the championship series on a down note. Both are hopeful that their squads will be roaring and ready to go come Game 1, which is slated to begin at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at East Prospect. Game 2, and if necessary Game 3, will be played at Jefferson on Sunday, with action starting at 1 p.m.

“We should be good to go,” Schultz said. “We have some guys that are still banged up, but they’ll be ready to go.”

Golden was similarly optimistic despite getting outscored by the Jackals 32-3 over the final three contests of the Susquehanna playoff title series. He’s hoping some rest will help get his team back to the form that had it atop the league standings throughout the entire regular season.

Jefferson's Jordan Higgins is hitting .413 with 18 RBIs this season.

“Jacobus was just clicking on all four cylinders,” Golden said. “Their hitters were hitting the ball hard and everything was just clicking for them. They were the better team. But we just have to get back to hitting the ball. We have a good lineup but, because of good pitching, we were scuffling a little bit. We just have to get back to doing the little things and trusting the teammate behind you.”

Pitching, hitting leaders: Both teams feature a strong combination of pitching and hitting, which should add to the intrigue of the best-of-three series.

The Titans were led this season in hitting by the duo of Colin Porter (.420, 11 RBIs, six stolen bases) and Jordan Higgins (.413). Scott Trail led the club with 22 RBIs, with Higgins right behind him with 18 RBIs.

Hallam's Alex Tucci will likely be counted on heavily by the Express this weekend on the mound against Jefferson.

Hallam was led by first baseman Angle Matias and shortstop Jaron Shimmel. While official stats weren't available, Golden confirmed that both players hit over .450 for the season.

Pitching-wise, the Titans will likely lean heavily on the one-two combination of right-hander Brian Bossom and lefty Jon Kibler. Kibler went 4-1 on the season with an outstanding 1.32 ERA, while Bossom led Jefferson with five wins while pitching to a 3.00 ERA.

The Express, however, will be without one half of their righty/lefty duo this weekend. Colby Shimmel, who graduated from Eastern York this spring, had to leave for college. Shimmel pitched well for Golden this season, which included a no-hitter against York Township.

Southpaw Alex Tucci, though, will be available all weekend. In addition, Jaron Shimmel, Matt Ruth and a couple others will be ready to take the mound if needed.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.

Hallam shortstop Jaron Shimmel is hitting more than .450 this season.