Twice as nice: Jefferson repeats as Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament champion

  • The Jefferson Titans defeated the Pelham Mets on Monday at Manchester, 4-2.
  • The win gave Jefferson the Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament title.
  • Jefferson defended its Kerrigan crown. The Titans have won three of the last four Kerrigan events.
Jefferson Titans' pitcher Brian Bossom reacts after winning the Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament championship, Monday, September 7, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

MANCHESTER – Central League president Mark Skehan was a happy man on Monday after the local sandlot baseball season came to a close with the Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament title game.

“With all the things that have gone wrong this year so far, this was a great way to end the 2020 season,” Skehan told the crowd at Manchester after the Jefferson Titans beat the Pelham Mets 4-2 for the Kerrigan championship.

Skehan easily could have been referencing a few things with his remarks.

For one, the weather over the three-day draw could not have been better. Many Kerrigan tournaments have been derailed by inclement weather in the past, but it was just sun and blue skies for the 2020 Labor Day weekend event.

For another, the local teams put on a show, to the delight of the hometown fans.

Central League rivals Glen Rock and Jefferson both advanced to the single-elimination draw Sunday. A perfect local scenario would have pitted CL regular-season champ Jefferson against the CL playoff champ Glen Rock in the Kerrigan final. That didn't happen, but the two York County sides did face one another in the quarterfinals, with the Titans scoring a 3-2 walk-off triumph.

Jefferson carried that momentum all the way to Monday’s final. With pitcher Brian Bossom on the mound, the Titans broke open a 1-1 tie after four innings with three runs over the fifth and sixth innings to claim the victory.

Here are three of the big storylines from this weekend’s tournament:

Titans roll: Jefferson manager Pat Schultz may not have the lengthy managerial resume of some other skippers around the area, but the Titans boss certainly has already cemented himself as one of the area's best.

For the third time in the last four years, Jefferson won the Kerrigan draw under Schultz, including a second consecutive crown.

“He’s a hall of famer already,” Jefferson veteran Steve Gentile III joked of Schultz.

It’s hard to argue with that sentiment. Schultz demonstrated a knack for boosting his roster during the Central League draft. He's also added some key out-of-league players over the years. This year was no exception.

Schultz said the recipe is not complicated.

“The formula is that I pick the same guys every year,” Schultz said. “I try to get as many Allisons (Logan and Austin) as I can. I try to get Danny (Dierdorff) and this year I was able to get some Stoverstown guys like Levi (Krause) and Zach (Schuler) since they were available.”

Bossom is the boss: The decision of who to start in the final Monday was never in doubt.

Whenever Schultz and his team are in a big-game situation, the ball is always put in the hands of one man — Brian Bossom.

The right-hander may not have a high-velocity fastball that he can throw past every batter, but "The Boss" definitely knows how to give opposing batters fits. Using his off-speed pitches — his curveball in particular — to his benefit, Bossom picked up the victory in the Kerrigan final for the third time.

“The weird thing about how this tournament unfolded is that I came in today with both Bossom and Sam Crater still fresh,” Schultz said. “And that’s just not normal when you talk about this tournament.”

Bossom delivered another gem in a high-pressure situation. He limited the Mets to two runs and six hits in a complete-game effort.

“We already faced them (in pool play Saturday) so that was good,” Bossom said. “I was able to use that as kind of a scouting report.”

What did his self-report tell him?

“They don’t like curveballs,” Bossom said with a smile. “So that was the plan from the start.”

After Pelham cut the deficit to 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Schultz was tempted to call upon Crater to finish things off. Bossom, however, wasn’t about to hand the ball over.

“I said to him that it looked like he struggled there in the sixth,” Schultz said. “And he just looked at me and said ‘what?’ That’s all I needed to hear.”

Stoops for Saturday: The plan wasn’t for Dylan Stoops to throw 14 innings Saturday, but the southpaw gave Schultz everything he could have asked for and more.

The ace for the East Prospect Pistons of the rival Susquehanna League, Stoops gave the Jefferson pitchers a complete day off as he picked up wins against Glen Rock (3-2) and Diamond Academy (2-1).

“If you’re going to get one guy from East Prospect, you’re going to go after the big fish,” Schultz said with a big smile.

East Prospect and Jefferson would have normally squared off in the York County Championship Series this summer, but the pandemic effectively eliminated that possibility.

“I tried to see if we could do an outlaw county championship,” Schultz said. “But there was just no time with them (East Prospect) and their playoffs.”

For Stoops, who enjoyed a dominant season for Pistons, the transition to playing for a different team with mostly unfamiliar players was smooth.

“They all embraced me right away,” Stoops said. “That’s a really fun group of guys. And it was nice that (Jordan) Higgins and AD (Austin Denlinger) — both East Prospect guys — had played with them in the past, but it was fun to meet and play with all of those guys.”

Notes: Stoops was named as the tournament's Most Outstanding Pitcher with a 2-0 record. Stoops threw 15 innings while allowing three runs and eight hits, with 15 strikeouts.

Nick Ward of Diamond Academy (Lansdale) was named the Most Valuable Hitter. Ward finished the draw with eight hits, including a pair of doubles and three home runs, while driving in six runs.

Skehan, meanwhile, clarified the reason why no Susquehanna League teams were in the Kerrigan draw for a second year in a row.

“The fact that East Prospect and Stewartstown are not in the field this year has nothing to do with what happened in 2019,” Skehan said about the controversial finish to the 2019 York County Baseball Championship Series. “When (SL president Jeff) Barkdoll called me about putting teams in this year, we were already full and had turned away several other interested teams. We filled up early this year probably due to the word of mouth from our successful Fourth of July tournament. So it wasn’t purposeful, it was just about timing.”

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