STOVERSTOWN — As it turns out, the question surrounding the Stoverstown Tigers baseball team wasn’t if, but when the team would finally break through against rival Glen Rock.
A day after getting blanked to send the Central League semifinal series to a pivotal Game 3, Stoverstown was still struggling to find itself at the plate heading into the bottom of the sixth inning on Sunday, Aug. 20. Last season the Tigers made a habit of breaking open close games in the sixth inning.
Just like the old days, Stoverstown did it again.
Trailing by a run, 2-1, the Central League regular-season champs battled back to plate four runs — two of which came off the bat of Ryan Kehr — in the sixth inning to beat Glen Rock, 5-2.
Stoverstown claimed the best-of-three series, 2-1, to advance to the best-of-three playoff finals. The Tigers will face Jefferson, which swept Manchester in the other semifinal series. Game 1 starts at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, at Stoverstown.
“Ryan can do it,” Tigers manager Tim Thoman said. “He came through for us. He put the ball in play and it turns out that it just got by (Glen Rock first baseman) Justin Anderson. That got us jump-started and after that we were fine.”
Kehr, who missed some time this season while playing with a team in the South Penn League playoffs, didn’t try to do too much with a big opportunity in front of him.
“It was a big game,” said Kehr, whose single drove in Austin Botts and Nick Todero. “I just tried to battle and put it in play.”
Kehr’s big one-out hit off Glen Rock starter Josh Houser ended his night. The Glen Rock right-hander allowed seven hits and five runs, three earned, over 5 1/3 innings. Up until that point, Houser limited the Tigers to just one run and four hits over the first five innings.
“Conor (Miller) threw a heck of a game against us (Saturday) and (Sunday) Houser was throwing a heck of a game too,” Thoman said. “You have to tip your hat to both of those guys.”
Brandon Warner drove in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder before Zach Schuler plated the final run of the contest with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.
Things didn’t look good for the Tigers before the bottom of the sixth. After Hood pitched a shutout in a 2-0 victory Saturday, Aug. 19, the home team was only able to muster one run — on a sacrifice fly by Todero in the first inning — against Houser.
The visitors weren’t able to generate much offense either against Stoverstown starter Jordan Lehman. Lehman surrendered only six hits over six innings while picking up the victory.
Rhodes shines for Glen Rock: Lehman, however, couldn't solve Glen Rock designated hitter Dan Rhodes. Rhodes, who batted second in Glen Rock’s lineup, drilled a solo homer in the first inning. The left-handed hitting slugger then put his team ahead 2-1 in the third with a RBI single that scored John Rivera-Moore.
Rhodes, who was on deck when Scott Merkel grounded out to short to end the game, finished the contest with three hits and two RBIs in three at-bats.
Daryl Harang pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the save for Stoverstown.
If the Tigers were hoping for a break before next weekend’s York County Championship Series with Susquehanna League champ East Prospect, the Central League champs will be disappointed. After playing three games in the last four days against Glen Rock, Stoverstown will get a day off Monday, Aug. 21, before starting the finals against Jefferson.
In order to get the series done before next weekend, the Tigers and Titans will play both Tuesday, Aug. 22, and Wednesday, Aug. 23, with a potential Game 3 coming Thursday, Aug. 24.
East Prospect, on the other hand, wrapped up an undefeated run through the Susquehanna League playoffs Friday, Aug. 18. So the Pistons will have more than a full week off before Game 1 against Stoverstown begins Saturday, Aug. 26.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com. This story was updated to correct the name of Glen Rock's pitcher on Saturday.