Sometimes a player’s name perfectly matches his style of play.
That's most certainly the case with Jefferson pitcher Brian Bossom.
Known as "The Boss" to his teammates and the Jefferson fans, Bossom was in control throughout the Central League playoffs for the Titans.
The right-hander scattered three hits over six strong innings to help Jefferson capture another Central League Baseball Playoff Championship with a 6-1 triumph over regular-season champion Stoverstown on Saturday. Jefferson swept the best-of-3 series.
“Boss is just that guy,” Jefferson manager Pat Schultz said. “I think that every title that we’ve won over the last handful of seasons, that he’s been on the mound in the clincher. He did it against Glen Rock, who has what I think is the toughest lineup in the league, and he shut them down, and he did it again Saturday.”
Bossom was a big reason the Titans claimed the organization’s fourth CL playoff title over the past six years. In addition to Saturday’s victory, Bossom finished off the semifinal series sweep against Glen Rock with a complete-game four-hitter in a 2-1 victory.
Getting healthy: One of the most remarkable aspects of Bossom’s pitching in the playoffs is that he was hurt for much of the season. Bossom only pitched in three games while compiling a team-worst 5.44 ERA during the regular season.
With his shoulder issues behind him, the ace of the Jefferson staff reverted to his championship form at just the right time, even as Schultz was still concerned about his health.
“He pitched the first couple of innings Thursday,” Schultz said of Saturday’s resumption of play from Thursday's suspended game. “And he wanted to pitch Saturday, and I was like, ‘how’s your arm?’ And he just kept with his running joke that you only hurt your arm if you throw hard.”
Command and location: So what is the recipe the makes Bossom such a success on the mound?
According to Schultz, it's command and location.
“Everybody that watches him is just like, ‘what is this?,'” Schultz said. “They’re like, ‘we’re going to kill this guy’ but then nobody can hit him. And Brian knows that and he enjoys it.”
Saturday’s victory didn’t actually secure another berth for the Titans into the prestigious Tom Kerrigan Memorial Tournament this upcoming Labor Day weekend. Jefferson had already clinched a Kerrigan berth just by making the finals against a Stoverstown side that already claimed its Kerrigan berth by virtue of winning the regular-season title.
Still, for Jefferson, the significance of the title can't be understated.
Another late-season surge: Not only did it earn the Titans a seventh title over the past six years (one CL regular-season title, four CL playoff titles, one York County title and one Kerrigan title in 2017), it also marked the eighth-straight victory for a team that finished the regular season with a 17-12 mark.
That late-season surge is nothing new for Schultz and his club. It’s been a nearly annual occurrence since Schultz took over full control of the team back in 2016.
So what is the trick? To Schultz, it’s dedication and focus.
“During the summer we have guys that have things going on and they may miss a game here and there,” Schultz said. “But when it comes to playoff time, they’re like ‘we’re going to make this work.’ And that always helps.”
Kerrigan event: The bracket for the Kerrigan event is still being finalized, but without the two regular entries from the Susquehanna League this season, in addition to two other teams that dropped out, the field is likely down to 12 teams this year.
With a smaller field, the draw will go from the normal double-elimination style to a pool-play format. There will be three pools of four teams each with each team playing the other team in the pool once. At the conclusion of that, an eight-team double-elimination bracket will be produced, with the winner being crowned Monday afternoon.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.