Standout pitching carries East Prospect to Susquehanna League playoff baseball crown
- East Prospect won the Susquehanna League baseball playoff championship.
- The Pistons won the best-of-five finals over Stewartstown, 3-1.
- East Prospect clinched the crown with 8-1 and 4-1 victories over the Vets on Saturday.
EAST PROSPECT – It was a long day of baseball for the East Prospect Pistons.
In the end, however, it proved worthwhile.
East Prospect, the four-time defending Susquehanna League regular-season champion, played host Game 3 and Game 4 of the best-of-five SL playoff finals opposite Stewartstown on Saturday afternoon.
With the series tied at 1-1 after the first two games, a sweep of Saturday’s contests by either side would clinch the title.
And that’s just what the Pistons did.
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Led by strong pitching performances from Jeremy Sabathne and Nick Kreider, the hosts made sure a pivotal Game 5 would not be necessary on Sunday.
Sabathne surrendered one run while fanning 10 in earning the win in an 8-1 triumph in Game 3.
Kreider allowed four hits over six innings before turning the ball over to EP ace Dylan Stoops to finish off the Vets. Stoops walked the first batter he faced, but continued his 2020 dominance by fanning the next two before getting a popup to the third baseman to nail down a 4-1 victory.
That gave EP its first league playoff crown since 2017. EP finished its season at 25-4, including a 7-1 run through the playoffs. Stewartstown finished at 19-15.
“Our pitching has been strong all year,” EP manager Mark Toomey said. “And today, whenever we were in a crucial situation, we were able to get guys out.”
Stoops finishes off phenomenal run: Getting guys out has been the norm for Stoops, especially during the playoffs. The southpaw finished up the most dominating run in SL playoff history with this third straight hitless appearance on the mound.
Stoops, who threw a pair of seven-inning no-hitters earlier in the playoffs, finished the playoffs with 15 innings pitched without surrendering a single hit.
“That was big-time,” Stoops said. “It was a huge nod for them to want me to come in and close that game out. Just kind of an exclamation point on what was a great season. It was a very emotional ending to a great year.”
Sabathne, Kreider in strong efforts: As strong as Stoops has been all season — the left-hander allowed one earned run all season over 61 innings pitched — the rest of the EP staff has been nearly as dominant. That showed up again Saturday. Both Sabathne and Kreider took their turns dealing from the mound.
“They both threw great today,” Toomey said. “And our pitching all year has just been phenomenal. As a team we gave up just 48 runs total.”
EP lineup does its job: While the pitching has been fantastic, the EP lineup again did its job. After getting shut down in Game 2, courtesy of a terrific performance by Stewartstown standout Cody Brittain (seven innings, four hits, one run in a 2-1 Stewartstown win on Thursday), the Pistons struck first in both games on Saturday to set the tone.
EP managed five hits in Game 3, but none was bigger than the one off the bat of Anthony Torreullas, who smoked a fourth-inning homer that pushed the Pistons lead to 2-0. The home team added another run later in the inning to give Sabathne a three-run cushion after four innings.
“A.T. hit a big one there,” said Stoops, who was the DH in both games. “After that, I think we just kind of felt like we were in the driver’s seat from then on.”
Dalton Renn had a big Game 4, collecting three of EP’s seven hits, while driving in a pair of runs.
Sorry to see season end: While the Pistons were celebrating Saturday’s accomplishment well into the evening, the realization that the 2020 season is over was a bit of a disappointment.
The 2020 campaign was truncated because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There will not be a York County Championship Series against the Central League champ this year. And because of an eligibility controversy surrounding last year’s county title series, EP will not appear in this summer’s Tom Kerrigan Memorial Colonial Tournament.
“To be honest, out of all four of our championship teams, this one is definitely our deepest,” Stoops said. “And that’s both with the offense as well as the pitching. In the past we’ve been loaded in either one or the other, but this year we're close to loaded in both. And I think that if we had a chance this year, we could have made a strong run in the Kerrigan.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.