With only a limited number of chances left to climb the American Legion baseball standings, Red Lion coach Bret Stabley felt his team let a big opportunity slip away Thursday when it traveled to Dover.
Trying to catch league-leading Pleasureville in the standings, in what is now a shortened regular season, Red Lion dropped a 4-1 decision on the road.
The hosts jumped out to an early lead in the first on an RBI by Shane Haffner. After Red Lion tied it up in the top of the third, Dover regained the lead in the bottom of the frame.
That was all that starter Josh Spirito would need as the right-hander surrendered just one run over seven innings to lead his team to victory. For good measure, though, Dover added two runs of insurance in the bottom of the sixth to build its lead to 4-1.
“We lost this game early,” Stabley said. “We have to show up and be ready to play.”
Spirito, however, had a big say in that as the long-haired recent Dover grad kept Red Lion’s lineup in check throughout the night. And he did it with a simple approach.
“I was just trying to throw strikes,” he said. “Just get ahead of every hitter.”
While Spirito is not a man of many words, he certainly is not short of confidence. After helping his team improve to 4-6 on the season, Spirito made a bold prediction about his team.
“We’re going to win it,” he said. “We’re going to win the championship.”
Three legion teams — Dallastown, Shiloh and Stewartstown — got off to late starts and had to cancel many games because of extended state playoff runs at the high school level. All of the games missed for those three teams earlier in the schedule will not be made up.
That means three less chances for those chasing Pleasureville to make their move before the season ends June 30. The winner of the regular season receives an automatic berth into the upcoming playoffs.
While Dover’s victory was confidence-builder, Stabley will need to get his team ready for run at regionals that will likely require winning the playoff title, which will begin with all teams participating in a play-in day on July 2.
“It’s unfortunate (with the schedule) that this has probably totally eliminated us from winning the division,” Stabley said after his team fell to 5-2. “That first day (July 2) is going to put a lot of pressure on teams early on. You know you’re going to have to throw your best pitcher early on and, with the pitching restrictions in place, it’s going to be tough to continue to move on to the next level.”
Pleasureville leads the standings at 8-0-1 while Northeastern is right behind it at 7-1.
Dover to hold fundraiser for Hill: Dover will be holding a special event in honor of Maddie Hill next Friday as they host York Suburban in the season finale.
Both Dover and York Suburban will wear uniforms with the favorite colors of Hill (North Carolina blue and orange), a former Dover High School graduate who lost a battle with cancer last summer. All funds raised from the event will be donated to charity.
OTHER LEGION RESULTS
Dallastown 3, Glen Rock 0: At Dallastown, the home side continued its unbeaten start to its shortened season, shutting out Glen Rock. Joe Capobianco, Pete Copbianco and Alex Weakland all drove in a run for Dallastown, while Weakland's came on a triple. Derek Sciortino pitched a complete-game two-hitter to lead Dallastown.
OTHER CENTRAL LEAGUE RESULTS
Manchester 5, Stoverstown 1: At Stoverstown, the visitors plated four of its five runs in the top of the sixth to help it secure the victory. Matt Jordan highlighted the sixth inning by hitting a two-run double. For the game, Jordan collected three RBIs, while teammates Trey McWilliams went 2 for 3, including a double, two runs scored and Logan Allison connected for a double. Manchester starter Ethan Hess threw a complete game on the mound, while striking out three, walking one and, with one out in the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded, finished the inning off by having Stoverstown ground into a double play ball. For Stoverstown, Austin Botts went 2 for 3 with one RBI, while teammate Jake Hockensmith went 2 for 3.
Mount Wolf 12, Dillsburg 2 (6 innings): At Dillsburg, the Wolves really broke things open with a six-run fourth inning to down Dillsburg. Tyler Page launched two home runs for Mount Wolf, driving in a total of four runs while going 3 for 4 and scoring three runs. Toby Sponseller provided Dillsburg with its only offense with two RBIs in the game on a double in the bottom of the sixth.
OTHER SUSQUEHANNA LEAGUE RESULTS
East Prospect 12, Felton 1: At East Prospect, the Pistons scored four times in the bottom of the second and five times in the bottom of the fourth to blow out the Ducks. Tanner Forry launched a home run for East Prospect, while five other players had doubles. Ryky Smith had three RBIs to lead the Pistons, while Mike Androconis and Bobby Gaston combined to allow just two hits and strike out 11. Jordan Rhodes provided the only RBI for Felton, bringing home Patrick Daugherty.
Jacobus 1, Windsor 0: At Jacobus, in a pitcher's duel, it was the Jackals' Riley Hamberger who bested the Cardinals' Shawn Wilson to earn his team the win. Hamberger spun seven shutout innings, allowing five hits, five walks, but striking out 10. Wilson allowed just five hits as well, but surrendered the game's only run in the bottom of the fifth, an RBI by Kyle Saxman.
Stewartstown 4, Conrads 2: At Stewartstown, the Vets earned a close win over Conrads thanks to a two-run bottom of the fifth that gave them a three-run cushion. Marcus Stevenson drove in three of Stewartstown’s four runs, while Jason Mitchell added the other one. Only one of Conrads’ runs were earned and Vets’ starter Cody Brittain pitched a complete game, allowing just one hit and struck out 14.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com