Susquehana, Central leagues to renew their interleague baseball partnership this summer

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
717-505-5403/@ydsports
Central League champion Stoverstown and Susquehanna League champion East Prospect are seen here in action the 2019 York County Championship Series. The two leagues have agreed to return to interleague regular-season games this summer, as well as hold the annual all-star game between the two leagues. The leagues will also again compete against each other for the overall county championship.
  • The Central and Susquehanna league have again agreed to interleague regular-season games.
  • The leagues will also again compete against each other in the annual all-star game.
  • The annual York County Championship Series between the two leagues is also back on the schedule.

After a contentious couple of years, the rival Susquehanna and Central leagues have put aside their differences.

That should be welcome news for York County sandlot baseball fans.

Officials from both leagues agreed that the introduction of regular-season interleague games during the 2019 regular season was a success.

A dispute that began during the York Country Championship Series that summer, however, created a roadblock to continued cooperation.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic shortened the seasons for both leagues in 2020, eliminating any chances that the two leagues would be able to again implement interleague play last summer.

Now, with the expectation that both leagues will be able to play a full season this summer, the rival leagues have agreed to put any acrimony behind them and interleague play will again be a part of the 2021 season. The interleague games will typically be played on Saturdays, starting with the games of May 29.

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“We’re excited about that,“ Susquehanna League president Jeff Barkdoll said. “(Central League president) Mark Skehan and I worked really hard together on this and we’re really glad to bring that back. I think that the excitement is mutual among the teams in both leagues.”

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The 2019 dispute: Barkdoll declined to discuss the bad blood between the two leagues that came as a result of a dispute during the 2019 county title series between East Prospect and Stoverstown. The Tigers balked at EP’s inclusion of Austin Gallagher on their roster for the annual clash between the regular-season champs of both circuits. Gallagher did not play for the Pistons during the regular season. Instead he played pro ball overseas.

After the Pistons claimed the series, with some major help from Gallagher, the Central League protested the outcome, claiming Gallagher should've been declared ineligible.

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The Susquehanna League was asked by the Central League to vacate EP’s victory, but refused to do so, which led to the CL barring the Pistons from entering the Tom Kerrigan Memorial Tournament over Labor Day weekend.

Letting bygones be bygones: In the end, for the good of both sides, what happened back in the summer of 2019 has been put aside. Barkdoll and Skehan worked together to again implement interleague play during the upcoming campaign.

“I’m not even going to talk about it,” Barkdoll said of the 2019 dispute. “We have to let bygones be bygones. We have to move forward and do what’s right for baseball.”

“I feel the same way,” Skehan said.

The cooperation between the leagues was already evident last weekend, when the Susquehanna League was able to bring back one of its staples — the Early Bird Tournament. Teams from both leagues participated in the abbreviated draw with no issues.

“It was kind of abbreviated, but we at least got some guys on the field early,” Barkdoll said. “It was more of an interleague scrimmage type thing, but it was fun. Nothing really serious, but it at least got the guys back on the field. which was a good start.”

Getting started: The leagues will open their seasons next week, with the Central League starting on Tuesday, May 11, while the Susquehanna League opens on Saturday, May 15.

“I know that we’re excited to see baseball back on the field,” Barkdoll said.

The two leagues didn't just agree to interleague regular-season games. The leagues also agreed to again hold the annual all-star game, as well as the county championship series this summer. Neither of those events was held last summer.

“The Central League versus the Susquehanna League All-Star Game will happen again this year,” Barkdoll said. “And that’s a great thing for county baseball. It’ll be a Central League-hosted event this year. And the county championship will return, which will be another good thing.”

Central League adds the Brew Crew: On the Central League side, Skehan is excited by the fact that the league has added another new member this season in the Brew Crew. Based out of northern Maryland, the Brew Crew was looking for a new place to play after their league folded.

“They’re a team we know,” Skehan said. “Their league down there folded and they’ve been coming to the Kerrigan Tournament over Labor Day the last handful of years. A lot of their players have played in our league previously, so when they approached us and asked about coming in there was some discussion about it, but we agreed (to let them in). It’s a good ballclub with some quality people.”

For this season, the plan is for the Brew Crew to play their entire schedule on the road, although they will be considered the "home" team for half of their contests.

“The plan is that by next year that they will have a home field that is not too far away,” Skehan said.

With the addition of the Brew Crew this season, during the interleague Saturdays, there will be normally be one Central League regular-season contest that won't be an interleague game. That was necessitated because the CL will have 10 teams, while the SL will include only eight.

East Prospect is the defending Susquehanna League playoff and regular-season champion. Jefferson won the Central League regular-season crown last year, while Glen Rock took the CL playoff title. Jefferson also captured the Kerrigan championship.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.