After a lot of drama, excitement and yes, rainouts, the end of the York County sandlot baseball season is upon us.
Four local teams — Stoverstown and Jefferson of the Central League and East Prospect and Hallam from the Susquehanna League — will compete this weekend for the right to be called the 2018 Tom Kerrigan Memorial Tournament champion.
In total, 16 squads will compete in the three-day, double-elimination event slated to take place (weather permitting) from Saturday through Labor Day at five different fields. The finals are set for noon Monday at Manchester, with an if-needed second game to be played around 3 p.m.
"It's always our goal, as a team, to play in this tournament," Stoverstown manager Tim Thoman said. "It's a lot of fun to see the different teams that come into York. While the (number of teams) isn't as big as it was in the past, this year I think we have 16 quality teams."
Here's a preview of what's on deck for the local squads:
Jefferson: The Titans enter as the defending tournament champions after defeating Cecil County, 2-0, in last year's final.
The regular season was a mixed bag for Jefferson, which finished fifth in the Central standings. The Titans, however, got hot late en route to capturing the Central playoff title with a sweep of the best-of-three series vs. Stoverstown.
Manager Pat Schultz is hoping the experience of winning last year's crown will prove invaluable this year. The Titans enter the event on a nine-game win streak.
"That guys that were with us for the stretch and playoff run are playing great," Schultz said. "We're confident. And we're bringing back some guys that we lost during the year due to work or other reasons."
Schultz noted that Ross Drawbaugh, Scott Trail, Jon Kibler, Kurt Seiders and Sam Crater will be available all weekend. In addition, the Titans picked up Grant Hoover from Mount Wolf, Tyler Wagner from Pleasureville and Logan Allison from Manchester.
Jefferson will begin its title defense at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mount Wolf against Delco.
East Prospect: Fresh off a second straight York County Championship Series victory vs. Stoverstown, the Susquehanna regular-season champion Pistons are looking to capture the Kerrigan crown for the first time.
While some of manager Mark Toomey's regulars — such as outfielders Hunter McClintock and Nathan Loser — won’t be around, Toomey feels his pick-ups will make up for the absences.
EP selected Cody Brittain of Stewartstown, Tyler Butcher and Derek Pitzer of York Township and Travis Hake and Joe Yourgal from Conrads. Jason Enoch, who was one of the top pitchers on the Red Lion teams that were successful in the Kerrigan Tournament years ago, will also be available.
“We have a lot of pitching, so we put our focus on getting the top-notch players that were available,” Toomey said. “We loved Brittain because he can throw, he can hit and he’s a great outfielder.”
East Prospect opens at 10 a.m. Saturday vs. a team from Philadelphia at Shiloh.
Hallam: No strangers to the Kerrigan event over the past decade, the Express return after missing out last season.
Like Jefferson, Hallam claimed a ticket into the draw by getting hot at the right time. The Express knocked off East Prospect, 3-1, in the best-of-five Susquehanna playoff finals.
"Pretty much everyone that is on this team has been in the (Kerrigan) before," Hallam first baseman Angel Matias said. "We all know that this tournament is filled with a lot of talent and good teams. We're just glad to be in it and hopefully we'll continue to play some good baseball, like we did in our playoff run. Our goal is to make it to Monday."
Hallam is hoping to win its first-ever Kerrigan crown. In addition to standouts such as Alex Tucci, Matt Ruth, Travis Stump and Brian Crumbling, the Express picked up Tyler Page from York Township, Blake Kendrick and Justin Sommer of Stewartstown, Randy Stewart from Conrads and Mike Crowe, Jaron Shimmel and Drew Kelley from Jacobus.
Hallam opens vs. the Susquehanna Assault at 10 a.m. Saturday at Manchester. The Assault has won five Kerrigan crowns in the past eight years.
Stoverstown: The Tigers have rolled through the Central regular season two straight years, but have no other titles to show for it. Back-to-back playoff losses in the Central playoffs and in the county series have left Stoverstown hungry to win back the Kerrigan title for the first time since 2016.
"We expect to be competitive and have a chance to win the tournament," Thoman said. "Hopefully we will get some great pitching, but we will need our timely hitting (to show up)."
During the regular season, the Tigers pitching staff had a 1.77 ERA with 14 shutouts.
Thoman is looking to bolster the offense with pick-ups that include Austin Allison, Trey McWilliams and Matt Jordan from Manchester, Mark Burnside and Colby Smith of Mount Wolf and Austin Rickrode from Dover.
Allison has played for the last two Kerrigan winners — Stoverstown in 2016 and Jefferson in 2017.
Stoverstown will begin tournament play on its home field at 1 p.m. Saturday vs. Centre County.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.