It's the time of the year when the games take on added significance on the local baseball diamonds.
The Central League is embarking on its final week of the regular season, and a champion has yet to be crowned.
The Susquehanna League, meanwhile, is already into the semifinal round of its playoffs after the conclusion of its opening-round quarterfinal series.
The intensity is sure to increase on the York County sandlot circuit during the coming days and weeks.
Here’s a brief rundown of where things stand heading into action on Tuesday, Aug. 8.
Susquehanna League semifinal pairings: The Susquehanna League couldn’t have asked for much more from its four first-round series last weekend.
Of the four series played, three required the maximum three games (although technically York Township and Stewartstown needed four because of a 1-1, 10-inning tie). The lone exception was with regular-season champ East Prospect, which put on a dominating show of offense and pitching in outscoring Felton, 39-0, en route to a convincing sweep.
York Township rode the rubber arm of James Striebig past Stewartstown in its series. Striebig threw 14 innings during the series over four days. The right-hander allowed but three hits during that span and one run, which was unearned. Township will travel to Jacobus for the best-of-three semifinals, which start at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8.
The Jackals needed a similarly dominant lights-out performance from Kerry Clark to best Red Lion, 1-0, this past Sunday, Aug. 6. Clark pitched a four-hit shutout while fanning seven. He got all of the run support he needed when player-manager Eric Hamberger ripped a solo homer in the third inning.
The Pistons were nearly flawless in their two-game sweep of the Ducks. After scoring a 23-0 triumph in the opener, East Prospect earned a 16-0 victory this past Saturday, Aug. 5. Dalton Renn led the Pistons in the slugfest series with six hits and nine RBIs, while pitchers Seth Lefever and Dylan Stoops pitched shutouts. The Pistons will play host to Conrads for their semifinal series, which will also begin at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8.
Conrads proved that it can never be counted out this weekend against Hallam. After losing the opener of the series and then having to play a "home’ game" on Hallam’s field because of unplayable conditions in New Bridgeville on Saturday, Aug. 5, skipper Chad Kennell’s club rallied from a 2-0 deficit after 3½ innings to score a 7-2 victory. Conrads didn’t stop there, though, as they rallied back from a 4-0 hole after four innings to claim a series-clinching 7-4 triumph on Sunday, Aug. 6.
Joe Yourgal was the hero in the finale. The right-hander threw a complete game while allowing four hits. Yourgal’s heroics were not just left on the mound. The Lancaster County native collected three hits and drove in two runs to help his own cause.
Stoverstown closing in on Central League crown: Stoverstown (24-9-0, 72 points) moved one big step closer to claiming the Central League title this weekend.
The Tigers defeated Pleasureville, 6-5, Saturday, Aug. 5, to keep pace with second-place Manchester, which earned a big 2-1 victory over defending champion Jefferson.
While Stoverstown did not gain any separation from the Indians (22-10-1, 67 points) atop the standings, they can officially clinch the title outright Tuesday with a victory against the Vikings. Manchester takes on Glen Rock that same evening, while Jefferson meets Mount Wolf.
Things could get real interesting, however, if the Vikings find a way to defeat or tie Stoverstown.
The final game of the season for the Tigers is at Jefferson (21-10-1, 64 points) Thursday. The Titans are currently eight points behind, but the defending champs have three games left, while Stoverstown and Manchester have two each.
If both Jefferson and Manchester win out, and Stoverstown loses to the Vikings, the Indians and Titans would finish tied atop the standings with 73 points while the Tigers would finish with 72 points.
If the Vikings and Stoverstown finish in a tie, and both Manchester and Jefferson win out, all three teams would finish the season at 24-10-1 with 73 points. It's unclear how the league would break that tie at this time. There has never been a three-way tie atop the standings in its history.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.