As August enters its third week, the playoffs are heating up in both the Central and Susquehanna Leagues.
The Central League playoffs began this past weekend with two series kicking off the three-round tournament. Both sets turned out to be splits in the action on Saturday, Aug. 12 and Sunday, Aug. 13, so there is a need for winner-take-all Game 3s on Tuesday, Aug. 15.
The Susquehanna League is in the midst of the its best-of-five championship series between York Township and regular-season champ East Prospect. The Pistons won Game 1 Sunday by a 2-0 score to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Jefferson and Glen Rock facing must-win situations: With a lot more uncertainty, the Central League is where a great deal of the intrigue currently sits.
Both of the series that began this weekend — Jefferson vs. Mount Wolf and Vikings vs. Glen Rock — started with splits. That means that the winner of the two Game 3s slated for Tuesday will advance to the semifinals.
The Titans are the defending Central League champs, but after finishing in a tie for second with Manchester, Pat Schultz’ club was forced to play in an opening-round set with the Wolves. After winning Saturday, 1-0, Jefferson fell by a 7-2 margin Sunday. To keep their season alive, the Titans will need to find a way to get the offense going Tuesday.
“Honestly, we really need our offense to step up,” Schultz said. “We really struggled these past two games. We won 1-0 Saturday and I don’t want to say we got lucky, but (Sam) Crater threw a heck of a game.”
Schultz isn’t sweating it too much. That’s because he knows he has Brian Bossum ready to go against Mount Wolf in Game 3.
Bossum, who is better known as ‘The Boss’ around the team’s dugout, has been in pressure situations many times in the past. He helped the Titans go on a late-season nine-game winning streak last year before pitching a shutout in the York County Championship Series against Hallam.
“We should be good,” Schultz said. “We have ‘The Boss’ Tuesday.”
If the Titans win, they will face Manchester in the semifinals which start Thursday, Aug. 17. If the Wolves win, they will face Stoverstown starting Thursday.
The other series saw the Vikings score a 12-9 upset in Glen Rock Saturday before ‘The Rock’ turned the tables Sunday with a 5-1 triumph.
Glen Rock or Vikings will face either Stoverstown or Manchester depending on the outcome of the other series.
East Prospect on historic run: It doesn’t take a lot to motivate East Prospect these days.
And the Susquehanna League is quickly finding out that a motivated team is a very, very tough chore for opponents during the postseason.
Carrying a bit of a chip on its collective shoulder, the Pistons have outscored their opposition by an eye-popping 64-3 margin en route to five consecutive victories, four of which have come by the way of shutouts.
“We want it bad,” said East Prospect manager Mark Toomey. “We have a collective fire under us right now, but I don’t want to get into it.”
When pressed, Toomey declined to discuss the reasons behind it, but the evidence is clear that something has gotten under the team’s skin. After breaking a 24-year drought by winning the regular season title this year, the Pistons are aiming for the double-dip by capturing both the regular season and playoff crowns.
“They have it all,” York Township manager Robin Striebig said of East Prospect. “They ended up winning the regular season for a reason.”
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org