MANCHESTER — When Stoverstown manager Tim Thoman made his first pickup for the Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament, the Tigers manager selected Manchester's Austin Allison.
Monday afternoon, Allison made Thoman's pick look brilliant.
With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning against Burlington, Allison stepped to the plate with his team trailing 4-3. Moments later, his new teammates were celebrating with him on the Manchester infield after Allison's two-run single gave the Tigers a 5-4 victory and the championship.
The triumph, which came on the heels of a 9-5 victory over undefeated Burlington hours earlier, sent Stoverstown home with its first unshared title in the Labor Day weekend event, which was formerly known as the Colonial York Tournament. The Tigers shared the 2012 trophy with the Susquehanna Assault when weather plagued the tournament and prevented the title game from being played.
“This was a lot of fun," Allison said. "Getting to play on the hometown field here in Manchester and me being a hometown guy, it just kind of fit in perfect. And for me to be up there at the right time, I was just trying to put the ball in play and it worked out for us.”
As a Manchester veteran, no one knew more about the "Manchester hop" more than Allison. While he admitted that a lot of times he's seen the "hop" go against his squad, he was never more pleased to be on the good side of one. The left-handed Allison ripped a 2-1 pitch directly at the shortstop. On many other fields it would have likely resulted in a game-ending double-play. Not so at Manchester. The ball hopped over the Burlington shortstop into left-center.
Dustin Kuhn scored the tying run while Levi Krause, who was on second, raced home to end an exciting weekend for the Tigers.
“Today it was a good bump for us," Allison said with a smile. "The first thing I did was look at Levi, who was rounding third. I knew they were going to be sending him. Once he was in, it was just all celebration.”
Allison's knock not only proved to be the game-winning hit, it also earned him a share of the tournament MVP award along with the Susquehanna Assault's Matt Giani. Allison finished the event 8 for 15 (.533 average) with 10 RBIs.
“He was my first pick," Thoman said with a smile. "He's a heck of a hitter and I needed some left-handed hitters. Austin knows his role and he came through.”
While Allison was one of the tournament's MVPs, Thoman was quick to single out both of his starting pitchers Sunday — Jordan Lehman and Daryl Harang — as just as important.
After falling in the winners' bracket final Sunday to Burlington, the Tigers knew they needed to win three-straight games Monday to take home the trophy. So Thoman turned to Lehman to get his team one step closer when the Tigers took on the Assault at 9 a.m. Lehman did his job. He shut down Susquehanna's powerful lineup, 5-0.
Lehman's complete-game masterpiece allowed Thoman to throw Harang, a southpaw, against a lefty-heavy Burlington lineup. It worked as intended. Harang threw a complete-game in the 9-5 victory before pitching another five innings in the finale.
“I needed Jordan to win the first game so we could give it to Daryl," Thoman said. "Once he did that I could rely on Daryl. Seven of their nine hitters are left-handed and (Harang) was really effective against them.”
It was a nice way for the Tigers to finish up 2016. After leading the Central League regular season for much of the year, they got passed on the final day by Jefferson, After that, Thoman's club was on a mission. After winning six of seven games over the three-day weekend, it was certainly "mission accomplished."
“I can't say enough about this team and the guys that I picked up," Thoman said. "We are definitely grateful for all of them. And it's nice to end the season on a winning note.”
Notes: Allison wasn't the only successful pickup. Mount Wolf's Dan Dierdorff, a Jefferson pickup, was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Pitcher. Dierdorff pitched Jefferson to a pair of wins Saturday, including a no-hitter in the Titans 13-0 blanking of Hallam. Dierdorff earned two victories while surrendering just three hits. He fanned 15 over 12 scoreless innings.
While Dierdorff won the award, his Mount Wolf teammate, Adam Hoff, picked up the victory in Stoverstown's 5-4 triumph on Sunday. Despite giving up the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh, Hoff earned the win when Allison's two-run single ended the event.
Jefferson, the Central League regular-season champ, dropped its opener against Green Door Saturday. After winning four-straight games, two of which came with Dierdorff on the mound, the Titans fell Sunday afternoon to the Assault, 7-1, to end their championship bid.
How the local teams fared: Following is how the local teams fared: Stoverstown, 6-1, champion; Jefferson, 4-2, fourth-place; Hallam, 1-2; Jacobus, 1-2; Young Revolution, 0-2; and York City, 0-2.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.