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After years of rumored whispers, interleague play is finally about to become a reality for the Central and Susquehanna baseball leagues.

The two rival York County leagues agreed to the format beginning with the 2019 season.

“(Susquehanna League president) Jeff Barkdoll and I met and talked over some things,” Central League president Mark Skehan said. “And he said, ‘we just need to get this done.’”

Skehan gave most of the credit for getting the deal done to Barkdoll.

After laboring over the details, the two presidents came to an agreement that will afford every team in the eight-team Susquehanna League and eight-team Central League to play each team from the rival league once.

“Jeff did most of the work putting the schedule together,” Skehan said. “It’s a great schedule. Starting on Memorial Day and then on each successive Saturday until the Fourth of July, we will have interleague games. And these games will count (in the standings for each league). They are not exhibition games.”

Skehan is hopeful that starting interleague play will help both leagues remain strong and vibrant for years to come. While the agreement and format is only officially slated for just this season right now, the hope is that it will continue in perpetuity.

“That is the presumption,” Skehan said. “If this thing is as successful as we both think it will be, we will just reverse the schedule next year.”

Goodbye Dover: A good bit of the reason for the change is the reality that the two leagues are facing.

The Central League, which included nine teams a season ago, is back to an eight-team league after Dover withdrew for the second time in the past three years. The Susquehanna League was a nine-team outfit itself just a few years ago before Red Lion folded.

The departure of Dover, however, had no impact on creating the implementation of interleague play, according to Skehan.

“There has been waning interesting in local baseball over the past 10 or so years,” Skehan said. “So we’re coming up with ways to try to rekindle some of that local interest and we think that this is a good way to try to do it.”

York County Championship Series rematch kicks off slate: The first day of interleague play will feature a Memorial Day rematch of last year’s York County Championship Series. Reigning Central League champion Stoverstown will travel to East Prospect to take on the reigning Susquehanna League champion Pistons. In fact, the SL champions from East Prospect have won the past two YCCS vs. Stoverstown.

The format to determine the home teams for interleague games alternates on each day of play. Thus, on Memorial Day, all games will be played at Susquehanna League fields, with the Central League teams hosting the next round of play.

“I’ve heard through the rumor mill that there’s a lot of people excited about it,” Skehan said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Re-entry rule introduced in both leagues: With the two teams playing one another during the regular season, the Susquehanna League agreed to adopt the re-entry rule that the Central League recently put in place for the upcoming season. The re-entry rule is identical to the one used in high school.

“It mirrors the PIAA rule,” said Skehan, who, in addition to running the Central League and the York City Ice Arena, is also a baseball coach for York Catholic. “It gives our managers some flexibility to use some of our younger players. If you have a fairly established team, it’s tough for the younger kids to break in and get some game action, so this should give them the opportunity to get a good feel for the league.”

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.

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