Pleasureville Post 799 coach Elliot Ness may not know who will show up for any of his team’s 14 regular-season games this year.
One thing Ness can rely on, however, is strong pitching.
Twice this week, Ness started a pitcher he wasn’t expecting to go with.
Monday that was Grant Smeltzer, who Ness figured wouldn’t be available after playing with his showcase team last weekend. It turns out, however, that the rising junior at Central York High School was available. Ness gave him the ball and Smeltzer did the rest, throwing his first career no-hitter while fanning 15 in a 3-0 victory over Glen Rock.
Wednesday, Ness arrived at Red Lion’s Horn Field to discover that his scheduled starter was a no-show. That would likely have been a major blow for any other team in the league. Ness just shrugged his shoulders and entrusted the game to Izak Nadzom.
Having thrown just one other time this season, Nadzom threw four three-hit, shutout innings to help Post 799 earn an 8-2 triumph over Red Lion.
“Our pitching has been pretty decent most of the year,” Ness said after his team improved to 7-2-3 on the season. “And Izak did a nice job in what ended up being an emergency start.”
For Pleasureville, getting players to games this season has been a struggle at times. That could be a problem again come Friday, when Ness can only count on six players to be there for an East Division showdown with rival Northeastern (8-4-1).
“When we have our guys here, we’re a good team,” he said. “It’s been a matter of that and if we string enough hits together.”
Pitching has been stellar: That clutch hitting was missing over the first six games of the campaign, which contributed to Pleasureville’s 1-2-3 start. During the team’s six-game winning-streak, however, there hasn’t been much need for hitting. Ness’ staff has allowed just one earned run over those six contests. The first four of those were shutouts, including Smeltzer’s gem Monday.
With theYork-Adams League regular-season drawing to a close and the playoffs looming, that kind of pitching could be pivotal if the two-time defending Y-A champions want to win another title and a Region IV berth.
The special thing about the recent pitching run is that it hasn’t been just one or two arms doing the heavy lifting. In addition to Smeltzer and Nadzom, Landon Ness, Josh Marquard and Michael Livingston have all started games during the win streak.
That’s five different pitchers over that six-game stretch, which is a luxury that any other coach in the league would kill for.
“We really do have a lot of pitching depth,” coach Ness said. “And tonight was Izak’s first start of the year. But we’ve had a lot of guys that play on the weekends, so we don’t typically have many of them for Mondays or Fridays.”
Simple formula: According to Smeltzer, the key to his team’s success has been fairly simple.
“We’re just throwing a lot of strikes and not walking guys,” he said. “With everyone playing with wooden bats you really just have to hit the strike zone and pitch to contact.”
While Smeltzer didn’t pitch against Red Lion Wednesday, he did contribute with a big double in the seventh inning to helped ignite a four-run rally.
“At the beginning of the year I was kind of struggling with the bat,” he said. “But I feel like I’m back into it now.”
The same can be said of entire team, which has surged up the Y-A East standings.
“At the start of the year we just weren’t playing good baseball,” Ness said. “And now we’re starting to do that.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.