MOUNT WOLF — The remnants of Hurricane Harvey forced some format changes to the 2017 Tom Kerrigan Memorial Tournament this weekend.
With only a handful of games being played Saturday, Sept. 2, in the 16-team bracket, the tournament committee was forced to change to a pool-play format for Sunday, Sept. 3, with a single-elimination format on Monday, Sept. 4.
When the dust finally cleared, Jefferson emerged as the tournament champion with a 2-0 triumph over Cecil County, Maryland.
The triumph marked the first-ever title for a Jefferson team that has only earned a berth into the draw three times. The championship also was the 16th for a Central League team over the 53 years that the tournament has been around.
The on-the-fly changes earned praise from most of the teams entered since it allowed all squads to play a minimum of three contests. Previously, squads were only guaranteed two games in what is normally a double-elimination event.
All four of the York-area sandlot league teams — Jefferson, Stoverstown, York Township and East Prospect — advanced to single-elimination action on Monday, Sept. 4.
While Township and East Prospect won their respective pools to clinch berths, both Stoverstown and Jefferson needed to win suspended games Monday morning, Sept. 4, to make it.
For Jefferson, that meant beating an unbeaten Cecil County squad Monday morning. The Titans did just that, 3-2, while the Tigers edged Delco, 11-6.
While the Pistons, Tigers and Township failed to make it to the final, the Titans were able to take things full circle. The Central League playoff champs defeated perennial contender Susquehanna Assault (4-1) and Burlington (1-0) to make the finals against Cecil County, which advanced after shutting out both Township (2-0) and East Prospect (1-0, 10 innings) to get a rematch with Jefferson.
Fortunately for the Titans, they had Austin Allison and Brian Bossom on their side. Allison smoked two doubles, including a go-ahead RBI two-bagger in the third inning. Bossom did the rest. The Jefferson ace pitched a five-hit shutout to help the Titans earn the 2-0 victory.
“We got hot at the right time,” Jefferson manager Pat Schultz said. “Our pitching was outstanding all weekend.”
Mastria a key pickup: One of Schultz’s best pickups of the tournament, Trevor Mastria, earned the Most Outstanding Pitcher Award. A senior at Albright College, Mastria pitched complete-game victories against the Assault and Burlington to get the Titans to the finals. Over 14 innings, the southpaw allowed just one run and six hits.
“We heard he had pretty good stuff,” Schultz said with a smile. “He keeps the ball down and throws strikes and that’s all you need in this tournament.”
Allison a big addition: Allison was the Most Outstanding Hitter after hitting at better than a .550 clip. A member of the rival Manchester Indians, this year’s victory marked the second year in a row that Allison played for the eventual champion. He was a pickup for Stoverstown during its run to the title last season.
“Everyone looks forward to this,” Allison said. “It’s the best weekend of the year.”
Bossom excels: While Bossom wasn’t needed until the final game, the Jefferson ace lived up to his billing. After pitching a shutout in the final game of the York County Championship Series last year against Hallam, the "Boss" did it again Sunday, albeit with some help from his friends.
“Nothing’s changed,” Bossom said. “I rely on my defense. Anytime I throw, it’s a complete team effort. I wouldn’t trade any of my guys … they’re all great.”
Gentile watches title: While winning is always a thrill, for Schultz it was even more exciting to have Steve Gentile, the longtime patriarch of the Southern/Jefferson franchise, there for the title. Gentile kept the organization afloat for many struggling years before the core of this group finally came together.
“Over 10 years I’d say,” Schultz said. “When we were Southern, everything came out of his pocket. Umpire fees, uniforms … everything came out of him just because he wanted to be a part of it. A lot of dry years. But we merged with Jefferson and now we’ve kind of pieced things together.”
Notes: The tournament was certainly bittersweet for East Prospect.
After rolling through the first two days unbeaten, the York County champs rallied from a 4-0 deficit to upend Stoverstown, 5-4, in the quarterfinals. The Pistons shut down Cecil County for more than nine innings but were unable to scratch a run across before Nick Macey hit a walk-off home run with two outs in the bottom of the 10th. Seth Lefever threw the entire contest while allowing just five hits. Lefever, who was 13-0 this season entering the day, was sacked with the hard-luck loss.
Township’s run was also cut short by Cecil County. The Susquehanna League playoff runners-up rolled to a 3-0 mark in their pool before getting shut out in the first round Monday. One highlight for Township was a victory earned by veteran pitcher Jay Dimler. Dimler is now within four victories of 300 for his illustrious career.
Stoverstown’s struggles at the plate were again evident Monday. After defeating Delco to make the draw, the Tigers raced out to a 4-0 lead with the help of a three-run home run by Austin Botts in the first inning against East Prospect. The Central League champs, however, were unable to get anything more against Pistons starter Dylan Stoops despite collecting 10 hits. A two-run single by Ryky Smith put East Prospect ahead for good in the fifth inning.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.