STEWARTSTOWN — The East Prospect Pistons have come close a few times to ending their 24-year regular-season championship drought in the Susquehanna League.
A couple years after losing a tie-breaker with eventual champion Jacobus, the Pistons were determined to leave no doubt about the 2017 title.
With the season winding down, East Prospect had a chance to do just that Wednesday evening, July 26, at Stewartstown.
Unlike two years ago, this time the Pistons took care of business.
Ryan Smith highlighted a memorable night for East Prospect, collecting three hits, including a pair of doubles, and drove in three runs in what ended up a 6-3 triumph.
The contest was called midway through the top of the seventh inning because of darkness with the Pistons ahead 10-3 at the time. Because the inning was not completed, however, the four runs that the Pistons scored in the seventh were unofficial and did not count in the final outcome. That included a two-run homer off the bat of Tanner Forry.
Regardless of the anti-climactic ending, the visitors were all smiles afterward.
“Twenty-four years,” Pistons manager Mark Toomey said, referring to the club’s last regular-season title back in 1993. “I’ve been here since 1987. We’ve had a very good team the last four or five years.”
As soon as Toomey uttered those last words, he was treated to a water-cooler shower by a few of his players. Despite the cold drenching, Toomey never lost his grin.
The only down side for Toomey and his club is that they were never able to celebrate in a normal manner. After Forry’s two-run homer, the Pistons tacked on two more runs. With no outs and the bases loaded, the umpires decided to call the contest after it was determined that the stadium lights were not available.
“It really was (weird),” Toomey said of post-game atmosphere.
Ben Achenbach was hoping that he and his teammates could have properly celebrated on the field after the final out was recorded.
“Yeah, that was weird,” he said. “But that’s the way it ended.”
The Pistons (24-5) took a 4-0 lead in the fourth. Singles from Dalton Renn and Matt Shatto each scored a run before Smith ripped a two-run double.
The visitors added two more runs in the fifth to go up 6-0. Things got a little tighter in the bottom of the frame when Ryan McMillan drilled a three-run homer for the Vets (15-14) to draw them within 6-3. That, however, would be the last hoorah for the home team. East Prospect starter Seth Lefever held the home team scoreless after that.
The victory was sweet for all of the Pistons, especially those who had waited a long time for this. That list includes Smith and Achenbach, who both have been on the team for the past 10 years.
“I haven’t been here hardly at all this year,” said Achenbach, who played for Wrightsville before joining the Pistons. “It’s all these guys (pointing to teammates) that have done it, but it’s nice to be a part of it.”
East Prospect still has three games left in the regular season before postseason play begins. The regular season title earns the club a berth in the York County Championship Series against the Central League regular-season champion, which is still undetermined, next month.
The title also clinches a berth into the Tom Kerrigan Memorial Tournament over Labor Day weekend.
Hallam 11, Felton 2: At Felton, Colby Shimmel led the Express to the victory by belting a homer and a double to go with three runs scored, two RBIs and two walks. Also for Hallam, Zach Zambito went 3 for 5, including a double, with two runs scored and two RBIs; Xavier Bonilla went 2 for 3 with a double, one run scored and one RBI; and starting pitcher Brian Crumbling threw six innings, striking out five, walking four and allowing five hits. For Felton, Jordan Rhodes tripled with one run scored, one RBI and two walks.
Manchester 5, Glen Rock 2: At Manchester, Ethan Hess and Jeremy Pagano combined on a two-hitter for the Indians. Hess went the first six innings to get the win, while Pagano pitched the seventh to get the save. Hess struck out four and walked three. Glen Rock did not score an earned run. Austin Allison and Logan Allison each had two hits and an RBI for Manchester. Jeffrey Noss pitched a complete game for Glen Rock.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was updated to correct Ryan Smith's name.