There is little drama in the Central League and Susquehanna League baseball races with less than a week to go in the regular season.
East Prospect (25-7) has already successfully defended its regular-season title, clinching the crown by defeating York Township 5-0 Saturday.
“How about that?” Pistons manager Mark Toomey said of his team’s second straight regular-season title. “This one was a little different because we’ve had to deal with some injuries as well as, at times, not having all of our guys available.”
Defending Central League champion Stoverstown (22-4-1) is all but assured of repeating. The Tigers, who lead second place Glen Rock (17-8-1) by 15 points, are atop the standings with just five games remaining.
“When we have everybody there, I wouldn’t want to face our lineup,” Tigers manager Tim Thoman said. “They’re a lot of fun to be around.”
Facing similar problems: Besides talented pitching and hitting, both the Tigers and Pistons have faced similar problems during the season, mostly about attendance.
For Toomey, it’s a combination of injuries and availability. Standout pitchers such as Hunter McVey and Dylan Stoops, who clinched the repeat with a one-hit, 13-strikeout performance against Township, are only able to play on weekends. Others, such as the power-hitting Tanner Forry, have been out because of injury.
Smith, Taylor excel for Pistons: The guys that are there and ready for Toomey on any given night have certainly done their jobs. Ryky Smith and Bren Taylor have sparked the hitting for East Prospect, while Seth Lefever, Tyler Tubbs and others have been formidable on the mound.
“Frankly I think that we have some of the best pitching in the Susquehanna League,” Toomey said. “And that’s going to win you a lot of games all day long. And when you add in a Ryky Smith, who’s close to breaking the league’s regular-season record for doubles, and Bren Taylor, you have two guys who are probably among the five candidates for league MVP.”
A chance to celebrate: While last year’s title was special for Toomey and his crew, winning the title this year was a little different in one big regard.
Last year’s clinching victory over Stewartstown came in the middle of the seventh inning when the umpires called the contest because of darkness. Because of that, there was no on-the-field celebration, which was understandably anti-climatic to say the least.
Saturday at York Township, there were no such issues. After Stoops recorded the final out, his teammates mobbed him on the mound in the traditional sense.
“This one was pretty cool,” Toomey said. “We got to mob Stoops on the mound and were able to celebrate a little bit.”
Because of the recent rain, the start of the Susquehanna League playoffs has been tentatively pushed back until Monday, Aug. 6. A league meeting was set for Monday, July 30, at the Red Lion Elks to finalize the postseason situation.
Tigers looking to clinch: Thoman and his Tigers are hoping to follow East Prospect's lead sometime this week. But with five games left on their slate and a rainy forecast for the final week, Thoman’s not really sure what could happen.
“We were pretty lucky to get most of our postponed games rescheduled quickly,” he said. “But then you have teams like Jefferson or Dillsburg, that still have 10 games to fit in before next Sunday. So I’m not quite sure what they’re going to do.”
One thing that Thoman will not do is worry too much about it. Thoman has been dealing with some off-the-field issues personally and sounded a bit worn out from it all.
“I’ll tell you this,” he said. “I’ll be happy when it’s all over.”
Thoman is hoping that ending will come on Labor Day, which is the final day of the Tom Kerrigan Memorial Tournament. The Tigers will officially clinch a berth in the prestigious holiday bracket by clinching the regular-season title.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.