JACOBUS — In baseball, there's a saying that hitting can be contagious.
During the Susquehanna League playoffs, York Township is putting a little different spin on that phrase. As their opponents are finding out, pitching can be contagious, too.
In the opening game of its semifinal series against Jacobus on Tuesday evening, Aug. 8, Township followed up a standout quarterfinal performance from James Striebig against Stewartstown with an equally impressive one by starter Avery Strayer.
Strayer dominated a potent Jacobus lineup, limiting the Jackals to three hits over seven scoreless innings.
Jacobus starter Mike Crowe was nearly as effective. The southpaw allowed only five hits. One of the hits that Crowe surrendered, however, was a RBI single to Andy Freeburger in the fifth inning that proved to be the difference in a 1-0 victory by Township.
Township now leads the best-of-three series, 1-0, with Game 2 coming at 5:45 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, at McWilliams Field.
“I’m not trying to one-up (James Striebig),” Strayer said. “I’m just trying to go out there and throw strikes.”
During Township's quarterfinal series win over Stewartstown, James Striebig pitched 14 innings without giving up an earned run.
The only real threat that Strayer faced vs. Jacobus came in the first inning, which is something that has plagued him his entire baseball career.
“The first inning has always been my worst inning,” he said. “It’s always been that way.”
After allowing a one-out double to Kerry Clark, Strayer hit Mike Austin with a pitch. As he did all night, however, Strayer quickly got out of trouble by getting a double-play off the bat of Drew Kelley to end the frame.
That would be the only inning in which the Jackals would get more than one runner on base against Strayer.
“Just move on from there,” Strayer said. “Just try to cruise from there.”
Township rallied to take the lead in the fifth with some bad, then good, base running. Austin Martinez led off the inning with a single, but Martinez was picked off first by catcher Joel Buchko. Moments later Jake Reichard singled to again give Township a runner on first.
Getting big leads and stealing bases is certainly a tough chore against the combo of Crowe and Buchko, as Martinez found out. But Reichard must have learned something from Martinez’s experience. He was able to steal second before Freeburger brought him home with a single to left.
“They have a pretty tough pitcher to run on and an excellent catcher too,” Township manager Robin Striebig said. “So it was not an ideal situation to run, but Jake was able to get a decent jump and beat the throw to second.”
Both Strayer and Crowe proved to be remarkably effective in getting some quick outs, which helped the contest come to a quick conclusion. The game, which began at 5:45 p.m., was over by 7:10 p.m.
“I guess it was just two pretty hot pitchers tonight,” Robin Striebig said. “Just making pitches and getting them to put the ball in play all night.”
Township will look to advance to the best-of-five playoff final with a victory Thursday. Striebig’s club is gunning to capture its first Susquehanna League playoff crown since 2006.
East Prospect 5, Conrads 0: At East Prospect, the regular-season champion Pistons plated all five runs in the bottom of the fourth to take the opening game in the best-of-three semifinal series.
Mike Androconis threw a shutout, striking out eight, walking one and allowing four singles. Also for the Pistons, Ryky Smith went 2 for 3 with one run scored, Anthony Torreullas went 1 for 1 with one run scored and D.J. Ream had a double with three RBIs and one run scored.
Game 2 is set for 5:45 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, at Conrads.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.