STOVERSTOWN — There is little doubt that the Stoverstown Tigers are a motivated club right now.
After yielding the Central League regular-season title a year ago to Jefferson by the margin of just one point, the Tigers are hoping to avoid a similar situation this summer.
If Stoverstown continues to play like it has over the past three weeks, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Led by a big three-run homer off the bat of catcher Austin Botts, the Tigers extended their winning streak to eight games Tuesday after downing a game Vikings outfit, 5-3.
“We know what our lineup is capable of,” Stoverstown pitcher Levi Krause said. “All through our lineup — No. 1 through 9 — can get a big hit at any moment. And we know that if one person is not on that day, that the next guy is going to step up.”
While Stoverstown (20-7) has been leaning on a very balanced lineup this season, the one player who makes a difference seemingly every game is Botts. It’s no coincidence that four of the Tigers' seven losses this season have come when Botts, who leads the team with six home runs, was not in the lineup.
“Any time Bottsie is up there, he’s a threat,” Stoverstown manager Tim Thoman said. “He obviously makes our team much better. You either have to pitch to him or someone else in our lineup that’s hot. I love our lineup. It’s nice to be able to go out with confidence in it every night.”
Botts ignited a rally that evened the game in the fourth inning. After Krause and Botts reached to begin the inning, Nick Todero drove in Krause with an infield hit. Three batters later, Jake Hockensmith brought in Botts to even the score at 2-2.
That set the stage in the fifth for Botts, who drove an 0-1 pitch over the fence in left-center to drive in Nick Spangler, who doubled, and Krause, who singled.
“It’s a situation where we know that we can come back and score,” Thoman said. “I was just glad that Levi was able to hold them there.”
Krause, who surrendered two runs on back-to-back doubles and then a single to start the night, quickly found his groove after that. The right-hander allowed just five hits after that to pick up his team-best eighth win of the season.
Krause, who plays collegiately at California University of Pennsylvania, did run into a bit of a jam in the seventh before closing it out. Vikings scratched out three singles in the seventh to load the bases with one out, forcing Thoman to walk to the mound to talk to his young starter.
The right-hander gave up a sacrifice fly before walking his only batter of the night to re-load the bases. After nearly getting the final out on a pop out near the Tigers' dugout, Krause was able to get Mike Moore to pop out to short to end the contest.
“I didn’t really want to make it that interesting,” Krause said. “But you can’t always control that stuff.”
The victory for Stoverstown merely takes the squad one step closer to the title. A big contest against second-place Jefferson looms ahead Thursday.
“We’ve had a lot of big wins recently,” Krause said. “And to beat them (the Vikings), especially when they’re hot, is a big deal. Now we can move on from this game and concentrate on beating Jefferson Thursday.”
Vikings, which had won three straight, fell to 13-13-1.
Jerrin Toomey and Chase James, who both doubled to start the game for the Vikings, each collected two hits. Krause and Botts had two hits apiece for Stoverstown, which managed only six hits against Vikings starter Logan Stover.
Jefferson 6, Mount Wolf 4: At Mount Wolf, the visitors plated five seventh-inning runs to erase a 4-1 Wolves' lead. Kurt Seiders' grand slam was the key blow in the inning. Scott Trail (two hits, run) and Ross Drawbaugh (two hits, double, RBI) also excelled at the plate for the winners, who improved to 17-9-1. Brian Bossom pitched six innings and allowed three earned runs to get the win, striking out five and walking two. Sam Crater got the save with a shutout seventh, fanning three. Tyler Page (three hits, homer, RBI, run) and Dustin Kuhn (two hits, two runs, RBI) led the Wolves.
Dillsburg 3, Pleasureville 0: At Dillsburg, Jesse Lovejoy pitched a one-hit shutout, striking out 10 and walking one in a dominant effort. Lovejoy also had two doubles and scored two runs at the plate. Jeremy Gilbert doubled with an RBI and run scored. Andrew Parks pitched a complete game for Pleasureville.
Stewartstown 10, Windsor 3: At Windsor, Craig Martin led the visitors by going 2 for 4 with four RBIs and one run scored. Also for the Vets, Justin Sommer homered with three runs scored and two RBIs, Cody Brittain had two doubles with one run scored and one RBI, Adam Allshouse went 3 for 4 with two runs scored, Marcus Stevenson went 2 for 4 (including a double) with one run scored and one RBI and starting pitcher Blake Kendrick threw six innings, striking out five and walking none, while allowing four hits and one run to pick up the win. For Windsor, Chris Liggett went 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs, while Luke Greisler doubled.
East Prospect 5, Conrads 2: At East Prospect, the first-place Pistons scored five unanswered runs to earn the win and improve to 23-5. Tanner Forry led the home team by going 2 for 3, including a homer. Also for Prospect, Ryan Smith went 3 for 3 with one RBI and one run scored, Ryky Smith doubled and Mike Androconis threw a complete game, striking out seven, walking three and allowing five hits. For Conrads, Joe Yourgal went 3 for 3, including a double, with two runs scored.