Larger Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament may have its 'best' field 'in a while'
- The Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament starts Saturday and runs through Monday.
- Two local teams will participate: Jefferson and Glen Rock.
- Jefferson has won the Kerrigan championship twice in the last three years.
There have been a lot of changes to the Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament over the last two decades.
The biggest one, of course, is the name change to honor the late Tom Kerrigan back in 2007. Kerrigan was a driving force behind the event. In the years before his death, the bracket was dubbed the Colonial York Tournament.
Others changes have occurred as well. There was the switch from aluminum bats to wooden ones, the inclusion of the extra-hitter rule and the introduction of pool play.
One of the more noticeable changes, however, has been the size of the field for the event, which has long been a Labor Day weekend tradition. As recently as 2007, the number of teams entered in the draw exceeded the maximum of 24, requiring the tournament to refund fees those who applied too late.
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Since then, that number dwindled to as low as 12 just a few years ago, which allowed the tournament to switch from a double-elimination bracket to one that includes pool play.
In the age of COVID-19 in 2020, it would seem like the numbers issue might get worse.
In fact, this year’s draw saw an uptick in interest. The 56th annual tournament bracket includes 16 teams, with two local squads competing: Jefferson, the 2020 Central League regular-season champ, and Glen Rock, the 2020 CL playoff champ.
“We have seven new teams entered this year,” tournament director Ed Brenner said. “And all were unsolicited. I think word is out about the quality of baseball played in this tournament. And I’ve had to turn a few teams away.”
The tournament features four, four-team pools playing at eight locations on Saturday. Each team will play three pool games on Saturday. The results from the three pool games will determine the single-elimination draw that concludes with a champion being crowned at 1 p.m. Monday at Manchester.
“I’m really looking forward to this weekend,” Brenner said. “I believe the competition will be the best that we’ve had here in a while.”
While the new additions to the draw will bring some intrigue to the 2020 bracket, the two local clubs figure to be among the favorites.
Jefferson: The Titans have emerged as perennial contenders.
Under the guidance of manager Pat Schultz, Jefferson has claimed the Kerrigan title twice in the past three years.
The Titans again look like a contender. Schultz may have the best team, on paper, entering the draw. In addition to his normal roster of standouts, that includes pitchers Sam Crater, Brian Bossom and Jon Kibler, Schultz added the area’s most prized arm in East Prospect stud Dylan Stoops to his arsenal.
Stoops finished up the Susquehanna League playoffs in dominating fashion. The southpaw tossed back-to-back no-hitters in the semifinals against Conrads and then in the finals vs. Stewartstown.
Since East Prospect, the 2020 Susquehanna League regular-season and playoff champ, is not in this year’s draw stemming from the controversy surrounding the 2019 York County Championship Series, Stoops was available for Schultz to pick up.
In addition to Stoops, a pair of former Titans who now play for EP were also acquired in catcher Jordan Higgins and infielder Austin Denlinger.
Jefferson also added five players to the roster via the Central League draft this past weekend. Schultz selected Levi Krause and Zach Schuler of Stoverstown, Austin Allison and Logan Allison from Manchester and Danny Dierdorff from Mount Wolf.
“I feel great about the team,” Schultz said. “We have a great group of guys coming in that have played us before. Probably the best Colonial team we’ve fielded honestly — knock on wood — offensively and pitching-wise.”
That said, Schultz isn’t taking anything for granted. The team that Jefferson defeated in last year’s final, Lansdale, is back in the fold with a new name — Diamond Academy. Other perennial contenders return such as Cecil County — which lost to Jefferson in the 2017 final — Delco and Staten Island.
“This should be the strongest field, top to bottom, since the tournament moved to pool play a few years ago,” Schultz said. “Some of our guys know guys on other teams. Delco, Staten Island and Cecil County have been extremely tough outs the last couple of years and I hear the team out of Pittsburgh is one to watch out for as well.”
Glen Rock: So, too, is Glen Rock, which finished one point behind the Titans in the regular-season standings. “The Rock” rolled through the CL playoffs, winning five of its six games against Stoverstown and Mechanicsburg.
“I feel really good about my team,” Glen Rock manager Mike Knott said. “We had a good season and capped it off by winning the playoffs.”
Strong performances on the mound by the duo of Steve Cooke and Conor Miller carried Knott’s club down the stretch. Those two will be aided by a number of new additions that Knott was able to pick up this weekend.
“I added Toby Sponseller, Justin Charles, Joe Yourgal, Mike Baker, Jonah Latshaw, Trevor Farrell, Chase James and Donovan Oaks,” Knott said. “All of them are top-notch players, so I’m happy about that.”
Another wild-card addition this weekend for Knott will be the return of Mason Heyne. Heyne, who starred in high school at Susquehannock before moving on to the college ranks at Rider University, was one game shy of qualifying for the CL playoff roster.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.