EAST PROSPECT — After dropping Game 1 of the best-of-3 York County Baseball Championship Series Saturday to Central League champion Stoverstown, Susquehanna League champion East Prospect was looking for answers heading into play Sunday.
Fortunately for the Pistons, they definitely received one.
Austin Gallagher was not even in the country Saturday when the Tigers won Game 1, 4-3. The former Lancaster Barnstormer, however, was in uniform and in the lineup for East Prospect in Game 2.
The 30 year old didn’t disappoint, belting a three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning of Game 2 to put the Pistons ahead for good. The SL champs cruised to a 5-2 triumph.
The Lancaster County native did it again in Game 3. He led off the fourth inning with a solo homer. That run, which put EP ahead 2-0, proved to be the game-winner. The Pistons survived a sixth-inning scare to capture the organization's third-straight county title, 2-1.
“I’m really elated,” EP manager Mark Toomey said. “And Stoverstown has such a good team and I have sympathy for them because it’s tough to lose, but I’m happy for our guys.”
Toomey was also tickled to have a player the caliber of Gallagher at his disposal for a pair of must-win games Sunday. He was hoping to have Gallagher, who was playing pro ball in Germany, available last month, but he couldn’t argue with Gallagher’s impeccable timing.
“We thought that he was going to be back in the states earlier in the summer,” Toomey said. “So we have him on the roster, but it ended up that his team ended up in the playoffs or something. And it was fortunate for us that he got in yesterday.”
Gallagher, the older brother of Kansas City Royals catcher Cam Gallagher, would have still been overseas had his team, the Mainz Athletics, not lost in the Bundesliga semifinals.
“I flew in here Saturday and got home around 6 p.m.,” Gallagher said. “And I’ve known these guys for quite a while. I played with them a little two years ago and played in the Colonial Tournament with them so it was really cool to come back and play with my buddies and contribute a little bit.”
For the day, Gallagher finished with three hits (two homers and a single) and five RBIs. He was actually responsible for a sixth run when a flyball he hit to center in the first inning of Game 3 was misplayed, resulting in EP’s other run in Game 3.
Protest possible: After the game, Stoverstown did reach out to CL president Mark Skehan to inquire about protesting Gallagher’s eligibility.
In the past, postseason rules for the CL and SL playoffs require that a player participate in at least five contests to be deemed eligible.
While Gallagher was in fact on the EP roster during the regular season, he did not play in at least five games.
When asked for comment about the situation, Skehan confirmed he was aware of predicament.
“I’m waiting on a few confirming facts before I make any (statement),” he said via text message. “I don’t think this is the end of this, (but) I’ll be sure to keep you posted.”
Controversial call: Despite Gallagher’s big day at the plate, the Pistons were in plenty of danger of wasting his efforts. Leading 2-0 headed into the bottom of the sixth (East Prospect was deemed the “away” team by virtue of losing a coin flip before Game 3), starter Nick Kreider got himself into a jam. After walking Zach Schuler to begin the frame, Nick Spangler roped a double to right-center. moving Schuler to third with no outs.
Toomey wasted little time in bringing in Sam Deardorff for relief. Deardorff, who pitched a complete game in last year’s Game 3 triumph over Stoverstown, appeared to serve up the lead when Levi Krause bounced a ball down the third-base line for what would have been a game-tying base hit. The third-base ump, who was right on the line, ruled the ball foul, which set off Stoverstown skipper Tim Thoman.
Thoman, who was in the third-base coaches' box, vehemently argued the ball was fair. Thoman was quickly ejected, but his dismay with the call was clear.
Schuler, who was on the third at the time, admitted that he wasn’t exactly in position to determine it one way or the other.
“It was tough for me,” he said. “I kind of jumped out of the way to avoid the ball. I know a lot of people from our dugout said it was fair, but I didn’t have a clear view of it.”
Given a second chance, Deardorff was able to fan Krause for the first out of the inning. After walking Xavier Bonilla to load the bases, Deardorff was able to strike out Joe Capobianco for the second out.
Deardorff, however, walked Austin Rickrode to force in Schuler and make it 2-1. Then, after six foul balls that extended the at-bat, the EP right-hander was able to get Matt Taylor to bounce into a force out to end the inning.
“I’m glad that (foul) call went the way it did,” Deardorff said. “I could have made a mistake there and gave up the lead, but I got a second chance at it. And I knew I had to make better pitches.”
Dominant seventh: Having some time to rest up, Deardorff was dominant in the seventh. He fanned Jack Stiner, Brandon Warner, and Schuler to give the Pistons another title.
“I was just relieved to get out of that inning so I can start fresh in the seventh,” he said. “I could pitch out of the wind-up and didn’t have to worry about having runners on base.”
After the final strike call of the contest, Jordan Higgins raced out to hug Deardorff in celebration. The rest of the EP bench emptied onto the field before the title trophy was given to the Pistons for a third year in a row.
CENTRAL LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYOFFS
Jefferson sweeps Mount Wolf: Jefferson earned a pair of close wins over the weekend to sweep Mount Wolf in their best-of-3 first-round Central League playoff series.
Jefferson won 13-11 Sunday at Mount Wolf. That followed a 3-2 win Saturday at Jefferson.
On Sunday, Jefferson scored eight runs in the top of the seventh to erase an 8-5 Wolves' lead. Mount Wolf scored three times in the bottom of the seventh, but fell a little short.
Jefferson was paced Dylan Shaffer (three hits, three runs, two RBIs, two walks), Ross Drawbaugh (two RBIs, run scored), Scott Trail (two hits, three runs, RBI), Joe Jasinski (homer, three RBIs, two runs) and Jordan Witmer (two RBIs).
Mount Wolf was paced by Danny Dierdorff (two hits, homer, three runs, two RBIs), Steve Pokopec (two hits, homer, two RBIs, two runs), Zac Stoll (three RBIs), Colby Smith (three runs, two walks) and Miles Campbell (two hits, RBI, run),
In Saturday's game, Jefferson scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to walk off with the win. The winning run scored on an error.
Brian Bossom got the win with two-thirds of an inning of shutout relief. Jon Kibler started and went 6 1/3 innings without giving up an earned run. He struck out six and walked two. Shaffer led Jefferson with three hits, including a game-tying single in the bottom of the seventh. Colin Porter doubled and scored a run.
Grant Hoover had two hits for the Wolves, while John Mehring doubled and Jesse Sargen drove in a run. Mark Burnside pitched a complete game but took the loss, allowing one earned run.
Vikings, Manchester headed to Game 3: Vikings and Manchester are headed to a deciding Game 3 in their best-of-3 Central League first-round playoff series.
Manchester won the opening game on Saturday, 16-8, at Vikings, before Vikings rebounded for a 9-3 win on Sunday at Manchester.
Game 3 is set for 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at Vikings.
No other details were reported.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.