STOVERSTOWN — This season hasn’t exactly turned out the way that Jefferson pitcher Sam Crater envisioned.
One of the Titans' top pitchers over the past few years, Crater managed to pitch in only two games during the regular season. To make matters worse, those contests resulted in Jefferson losses.
So when Crater was given the ball in a potential series-clinching Game 2 of the Central League Playoff Championship Series against regular-season champion Stoverstown, getting a victory was the primary thing on his mind.
With a little help from his own bat, Crater accomplished his goal. The right-hander allowed just three runs over seven innings and his two-run double in the bottom of the first sparked the Titans to their eventual 8-3 triumph.
The victory marked the ninth straight triumph for the Titans while capping off a terrific late-season run. It was Jefferson's second straight playoff championship. The Titans swept the best-of-three series, 2-0.
“He threw a gem,” Jefferson manager Pat Shultz said. “But that’s what he does.”
Crater’s heroics were not just limited to the mound, where he fanned six while walking just one. After a walk and a single to start the first against Stoverstown starter Chris Mattison, Crater drove in both runners with a one-out double. A two-out single by Joe Jasinski drove in Crater to give the Titans an early 3-0 advantage.
An insurance run scored by Crater in the third proved to be helpful. That’s because the Tigers put up a rally in the top of the fifth.
With one on and two outs, Stoverstown closed the gap to a run after a RBI single by Zach Schuler, an RBI double by Nick Spangler and a RBI single by Levi Krause. Crater escaped with the lead by getting Mattison, who was Stoverstown’s top hitter this season, to bounce out to short.
“They always seem to make it interesting,” Shultz said of Stoverstown’s rally. “But fortunately we came back big with the bats.”
The Titans erupted for four runs in the bottom of the sixth. A leadoff double by Steve Gentile was followed by a slap RBI single to right by Aaron Becker. Krause was then summoned to replace Mattison, who allowed six runs (four earned) on just four hits, but didn’t fare much better. Two batters later, Jordan Higgins drove in two more runs with a double before scoring on a two-base throwing error to make it 8-3.
“Sam threw a nice game for them,” Stoverstown manager Tim Thoman said. “Now we battled back there to get within a run, but Aaron, their No. 9 hitter, gets a big base hit for them. That was a big play.”
Both teams may see one another in the Tom Kerrigan Memorial Tournament that begins Saturday, Sept. 1, and runs through Labor Day.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.