EAST PROSPECT — In baseball circles, it's commonly said that good pitching trumps good hitting.
This past weekend, that phrase was proven true when Susquehanna League champion East Prospect squared off with Central League champ Stoverstown in the York County Baseball Championship Series.
The Pistons rolled through the season on the back of a dominating pitching staff that allowed less than three earned runs per game. Behind a pair of southpaws, in Dylan Stoops and Seth Lefever, East Prospect did it again against the Tigers.
After Stoops limited Stoverstown to one hit and one run Saturday, Aug. 26, in a 5-1 Pistons win, Lefever nearly matched his teammate Sunday, Aug. 27. Lefever surrendered three hits and one run, helping the home-standing Pistons earn a two-game sweep of the best-of-three series after a 6-1 triumph.
East Prospect’s victory put an end to a three-year slide for the Susquehanna League in the series. The Central League owns a dominating 28-12 overall record — thanks in large part to an 18-year unbeaten run in the series from 1984 to 2003.
The county series dates back to 1974.
Pistons' first county crown: Not surprisingly, the Pistons were all smiles after claiming the organization’s first York County title.
“This means a lot,” said East Prospect manager Mark Toomey, while pointing to the York County Championship Series trophy. “We don’t have our name on that until now. This is our first one. It was our goal to win the league and then after we won the league it was our goal to win the (Susquehanna League) playoffs, and then there was one thing left — this.”
The Pistons' pitching put the clamps on a prolific Stoverstown offense. The Tigers entered the series hitting a collective .321 as a team, but mustered only four hits over 14 innings against Stoops and Lefever.
Stoops, who played professionally in both independent ball and with the San Diego Padres organization over the past two years, dominated everyone he faced this season. The left-hander has allowed two earned runs over 48 innings.
Perfect season for Lefever: While Lefever doesn’t have the same professional pedigree as Stoops, the Shippensburg University product rolled through the season unbeaten. He did so by allowing hitters to make soft contact instead of over-powering them with high velocity.
“Seth pitched to contact,” Toomey said. “He was getting guys to ground out and fly out. I don’t know how many hits he gave up today, but I don’t think it was many. He just did another awesome job and he’s been doing it all year. That’s his 13th win of the year — 13-0.”
Tigers struggle at plate: Stoverstown manager Tim Thoman gave credit for his team’s struggles at the plate to the East Prospect pitchers.
“They had good pitching,” Thoman said. “But, that said, we just have to do a better job of hitting. If we don’t hit, we don’t get many guys on base. We’ve been hot all year hitting, but toward the end here, the bats have gone kind of silent.”
The Tigers were able to take the lead in the third against Lefever. Levi Krause stroked a two-out single that drove in Stoverstown starting pitcher Daryl Harang from third.
That would be all the offense the Tigers would generate Sunday against the Pistons ace. A fifth-inning single by Zach Schuler and a walk to Ryan Kehr in the seventh would be the only base runners Lefever allowed from that point.
East Prospect offense: The East Prospect offense took the lead for good in the fourth against Harang. A single by Dalton Renn and a sacrifice fly by Ryan Smith put the home team ahead 2-1 after four innings.
The Pistons put the game away in the fifth with a four-run barrage that was highlighted by RBIs from Renn and Smith.
Kerrigan next: This weekend’s series signals that there is just one more weekend of local sandlot baseball left this year. Next weekend the Tom Kerrigan Memorial Tournament will begin with 16 teams vying for the title. Stoverstown will look to defend its crown from last year, but East Prospect, Jefferson and York Township will all look to cap off their seasons with one last championship.
Toomey, however, doesn’t want to start thinking ahead just yet. He’s content with soaking in a very satisfying triumph.
“Right now we’re happy about today,” Toomey said. “We’ll worry about the Kerrigan Tournament next week.”
East Prospect shortstop Ryky Smith paced a seven-hit attack against Harang with three hits, while Renn finished with two.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org