Glen Rock baseball team solves ever-evolving lineup puzzle, grabs Central League top spot
- The Glen Rock baseball team leads the Central League this season at 9-1-1.
- One of Glen Rock's wins came vs. East Prospect, the defending York County champ.
- Glen Rock's first loss of the season came on Tuesday vs. Vikings, 5-4.
The entire makeup of the roster is almost entirely different.
The manager is different, too.
Yet, over the past two decades, the Glen Rock baseball organization has consistently remained one of the better outfits in the Central League.
Entering play Tuesday, "The Rock" was sitting pretty atop the CL standings with an impressive 9-0-1 mark.
What has made Glen Rock’s hot start to the 2019 season all the more surprising is that the composition of the lineup on any given day is much more of a puzzle than it has ever been before.
Sure, players such as veterans Dan Rhodes and Rick Goebeler remain. They were integral parts of league championship squads from 10-20 years ago.
Some new faces, however, have emerged on any given night to help manager Mike Knott’s club remain a year-in, year-out contender in the Central League.
“We have a lot of the same guys back from last year,” Knott said after his team suffered its first loss of the season, 5-4, against the Vikings Tuesday. “But starting off (9-0-1) was pretty tough.”
For a guy such as Rhodes, who is playing in his 20th season with the organization, getting to the ballfield for games remains a lot of fun.
“Our hitting has been great,” Rhodes said. “We have some really good hitters that have come through in the clutch.”
History of great hitters: Great hitters and Glen Rock have gone hand-in-hand over the years.
Ten of 15 years ago, when Rhodes was in his prime, the lineup was almost always the same every night. Guys such as Fritz Allison, Tim Hare, Brad McCullough, John Devilbiss, Rhodes and others could all be written into the lineup in ink every night when manager Kim McCullough was skippering the squad.
Fast-forward to this season and the hitting has remained a staple. It’s just that the lineup that is doing it every night has been more of a puzzle than ever before. The names once written in pen have to be written in pencil now.
“You don’t have the same group of guys for every game, so we’re just putting whoever is here together,” Rhodes said. “And I know it’s hard on our coach, but so far we’ve been doing it well.”
Pitching also effective: Rhodes, who was once the team’s everyday catcher, heaped praise on a pitching staff that has also been quite effective all season. Like the hitting, the difference comes back to the "who" question.
“Our pitching has been outstanding,” Rhodes said. “But it’s just not the same kind of aces that other teams have.”
Enjoying interleague play: One change that Rhodes and Knott have really enjoyed so far this season is the inclusion of interleague play with the Susquehanna League into the fray.
Glen Rock already owns a victory over East Prospect, last year’s SL and York County champ.
Rhodes also likes the opportunity to play some games on Susquehanna League fields that he’s never had the chance to play at over his long tenure. That includes the field they played on Saturday down in Felton, a game that "The Rock" won in convincing fashion, 22-1.
“I know that the left-handed hitters loved it,” said Rhodes, a left-handed hitter himself. “We hit like three grand slams, so it was a lot of fun.”
Rhodes not ready to retire: While a player such as Rhodes is more of a rarity in the league these days, it doesn’t sound as if the all-time Glen Rock great is ready to think about retirement anytime soon.
“They can’t get rid of me,” he said with a laugh.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.