JEFFERSON — It's been awhile since the Central League standings have been as jam packed as this season.
And it doesn’t seem likely that will change much anytime soon.
With the top six teams separated in the loss column by just one game heading into Tuesday’s action, the parity from top to bottom across the league has rarely reached this level. Manchester and Glen Rock each entered the night with just three losses, while defending champ Jefferson, Stoverstown, Mount Wolf and the Vikings each had four setbacks.
The Titans, however, are hopeful that they can emerge from the pack. If Tuesday’s battle with the Indians is a prelude of things to come, they may very well do that.
The defending champs jumped on Manchester early, scoring twice in the first, before exploding for nine more in the second to put the game away early. The 13-1 trouncing allowed Jefferson (6-4) to keep pace with Glen Rock (7-3), which earned a 6-3 triumph over Mount Wolf, at the top of the standings.
“As long as we’re all together until we get rolling, I’m all about that,” Titans skipper Pat Schultz said.
To no one’s surprise, Schultz was feeling good about his team’s ability to get on the same type of roll that helped them capture the program’s first Central League title a season ago. The fact that Jefferson did it with several starters absent makes Tuesday’s result all the more satisfying.
“We were actually down four or five starters tonight,” Schultz said. “But it seems like we always play better like this. We’re missing some guys, but then other guys step up.”
While Schultz is no psychiatrist, he thinks he has an idea of why that is the case.
“We’re all pretty loose and are just trying to have fun,” he said.
The fun started early and never let up. The Titans finally earned some payback against Manchester starter Michael Houseal, who has been a constant thorn in the side for Jefferson over the past several years. Tuesday, however, was certainly not the type of result that Indians manager Dave Miller is used to seeing from his right-hander.
“I don’t think that Mike pitched poorly, but maybe they were a little more relaxed and handled the heat better,” Miller said, alluding to the 90-plus degree evening.
Miller is no stranger to the league, having skippered the Manchester club for more than a decade. So he knows that one bad result can be washed away quickly. He’s hoping that is the case Thursday when the Indians take on Glen Rock in another pivotal battle.
“This is just a very competitive league,” Miller said. “I think this league has gotten better over the years. There’s a lot of youth but also a lot of experience out there. It’s competitive.”
Brian Bossom’s performance on the mound was just as impressive as his team’s offensive outburst. The right-hander limited the visitors to five hits over seven innings to earn the victory.
Steven Gentile III paced a 14-hit Titans onslaught with three singles, while Ross Drawbaugh, who drove in four runs, and Joe Jasinski each had two hits.
Trey McWillims drove in Manchester’s only run with a single in the third.
Pleasureville 6, Stoverstown 4: At Pleasureville, the home team erupted for four runs in the bottom of the sixth to erase a 4-2 Stoverstown lead. Matt Meyer (double, two RBIs, run) led Pleasureville, while Clint Bohn and Scott Ream also doubled for the Hawks. Andrew Parks went six innings to get the win. Austin Rickrode belted a fourth-inning grand slam to account for all of the Tigers' runs. Stoverstown had just three hits.
Glen Rock 6, Mount Wolf 3: At Mount Wolf, the visitors plated four runs in the top of the fifth to take a 5-2 lead. Justin Anderson led the visitors a homer, three RBIs and one run scored. Also for Glen Rock, Dan Rhodes went 2 for 4, including a solo homer, with two runs scored; Scott Merkel hit a solo homer; and pitchers Nick Cicio and Steve Albrandt combined to throw a four-hitter, striking out 10 and walking four. For Mount Wolf, Corey Eisenhart went 2 for 3 with one RBI, Ryan Wentzel doubled, Mark Burnside doubled and Derek Slagle threw a complete game, allowing two earned runs.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.