STOVERSTOWN — Sometimes, for a baseball team, it's just a matter of getting hot at the right time.
At the moment, the time certainly appears right for the Jefferson Titans.
After completing their regular-season schedule with a 13-13-1 record, the Titans entered the Central League playoffs as the No. 5 seed.
Since then, coach Pat Shultz and his crew have played like anything but a low seed. Consecutive sweeps of No. 4 Manchester in the first round and No. 2 Glen Rock in the semifinals put Jefferson back into the Central League Playoff Championship Series against regular-season champion Stoverstown.
Led by a big day at the plate from Tyler Troxel (home run, five RBIs) and a solid start from Jeremy Sabathne, the Titans are just one win away from securing back-to-back playoff titles after capturing a 7-4 triumph Sunday in Game 1 of the best-of-three playoff title series.
Game 2 is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Tuesday back at Stoverstown. The contest will be played there because of an issue that has rendered the field in Jefferson unplayable.
“We are rolling pretty good right now,” Shultz said after Sunday’s triumph.
Starting quickly: Facing arguably Stoverstown’s top pitcher this season in Aaron Lippy, the Titans went to work quickly. After back-to-back singles, Troxel drove in his first run of the game with a ground out to short in the second inning.
Troxel broke things open in third by clubbing a grand slam that capped off a five-run third against Lippy.
“(Troxel) came through with the big bomb,” Shultz said, while pointing at Troxel. “That was just what we needed.”
Rain factors in: Those six runs figured to be plenty for Sabathne, who was making his first start of the playoffs. The right-hander allowed just four hits over the first five innings.
A steady rainfall throughout the contest seemed to affect Sabathne’s control in the sixth. Two walks, a hit batter and a costly error allowed the Tigers to plate four runs to tighten things up.
Sabathne, however, got out of the inning with a punch-out before Shultz lifted his starter in favor of Colin Porter, who threw a 1-2-3 seventh to earn the save.
“Great effort by Jeremy,” Shultz said. “This was actually his first start of the playoffs because everything was getting pushed back. It just worked out that we’ve really only played Thursdays and Saturdays (in the playoffs) so far.
"Boss (Brian Bossum) pitches Thursday and (Jeremy) can’t make it on Saturdays. But in the playoffs our pitching has been phenomenal.”
Susquehanna playoff title series starts Tuesday: The best-of-five Susquehanna League Playoff Championship Series starts with Game 1 at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at East Prospect.
The regular-season and York County champion Pistons will take on Hallam.
East Prospect won its best-of-three semifinal series over Stewartstown, 2-1, with a 5-0 victory on Saturday.
Hallam also won its semifinal series vs. York Township, 2-1, grabbing a 5-4 win on Saturday.
In the Pistons' win Saturday, Dylan Stoops pitched a three-hit shutout, striking out nine with one walk. Bren Taylor (two hits, two runs), Ryky Smith (two hits, one run) and Mark Schauren (two RBIs) led Prospect. Jere Preston had two hits for Stewartstown.
In Hallam's win Saturday, Alex Tucci pitched a complete-game nine-hitter. Tucci also had two doubles and a run scored. Also for Hallam, Dan Wecker added two hits and a run scored, while Joe Pietrobone doubled with an RBI and run scored. Tyler Butcher pitched a complete game for Township, allowing two earned runs. Township's offense was led by Max Naill (three hits, run), Micah Striebig (two hits, RBI, run) and Derek Pitzer (double, two RBIs)
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.