York County Championship Series, for first time, has baseball team from outside of county

East Prospect's Anthony Torreullas, left, and  Ryky Smith celebrate during Susquehanna League baseball action at Hallam Express Field in Hallam, Wednesday, July 14, 2021. East Prospect would win the game 6-3. Dawn J. Sagert photo
  • The York County Championship Series will be held this weekend.
  • The baseball series features the regular-season champs from the Central and Susquehanna leagues.
  • The best-of-three contest pits CL championship Mechanicsburg vs. SL champion East Prospect.

After a hiatus last summer, the York County Championship Series is back.

The best-of-three event, pitting the regular-season baseball champions from the Susquehanna and Central leagues, returns this weekend.

And for the first time ever, one of the teams in the series won’t actually be from York County.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Susquehanna League champions are the East Prospect Pistons. Winners of the last three county titles, the team from eastern York County is looking to do it again this year after tallying a 23-7 regular-season mark.

East Prospect, who faced Stoverstown in the county finals in 2017, 2018 and 2019, will face a different CL squad this time around. In just its second year in the CL, the Mechanicsburg Cardinals (28-7) won the regular-season title, eclipsing runner-up Glen Rock (26-9) by two games. Mechanicsburg is located in Cumberland County. The Cardinals joined the Central League when their previous league folded.

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The Pistons will host Game 1 of the series at 2 p.m. Saturday, while Mechanicsburg will host Game 2 at noon Sunday, with Game 3, if necessary, to take place immediately following the conclusion of Game 2.

The county series was not played last year, when both leagues dealt with cramped and shortened schedules caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2019 series featured a controversial finish, when Stoverstown felt EP used an ineligible player.

The Pistons won in the regular season: During the regular season, the two sides did face one another once, an 8-4 EP victory back on June 12.

Nick Lucky helped rally the Pistons from a 4-2 deficit in the fifth inning with a three-run homer. Lucky also drove in two runs with sacrifice flies for the unusual 1-for-1, five-RBI stat line.

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One thing to note about that contest is that neither side threw one of their aces that day. Christian Foltz (0-1) started for Mechanicsburg, which was his only start of the season. Jeremy Sabathne (1-1) earned the victory, although it was one of only four starts for the EP veteran this season.

East Prospect's Terry Godfrey pitches against Hallam during Susquehanna League baseball action at Hallam Express Field in Hallam, Wednesday, July 14, 2021. East Prospect would win the game 6-3. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The pitchers: Both sides figure to load up with their best this weekend. The Cardinals were led this year on the mound by Travis Miller, who finished 8-1 with a 0.88 ERA. Miller fanned 51 batters in 58 innings.

Kyle Otstot (4-1, 1.17 ERA) and Riley Shafer (3-2, 2.33 ERA) are also quality arms who could start games for Mechanicsburg, while Teed Wertz (4-0, 1.73 ERA) is a reliable arm out of the bullpen.

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The Pistons, especially late in the season, rode the dynamic arms of Terry Godfrey and Tyler Butcher. Godfrey finished 5-0 in five starts, striking out 33 in 43 frames with a 1.05 ERA. Butcher, who threw a no-hitter against Windsor this season, was 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA.

The Kreider brothers, Nick and Josh, also filled out the EP rotation for most of this year. Dylan Stoops, EP’s ace the past several years, has been dealing with an arm injury. Nick Kreider went 4-2 with a 3.89 ERA while Josh Kreider was 3-1 with a 2.42 ERA.

East Prospect's Tyler Butcher pitches against Windsor during Susquehanna League baseball action in East Prospect, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. East Prospect would win the game 1-0. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The hitters: Both sides feature some of the top hitters in their respective leagues, so this weekend doesn’t figure to be a dull one offensively.

Logan Sauve led Mechanicsburg with a .436 average. Over a third of Sauve’s hits went for extra bases. The Cardinal slugger pounded six doubles, two triples and a home run among his 24 hits.

Otstot and Ryan Gray drove in the most runs for Mechanicsburg this season. Gray led the Cards with 26 RBIs, while also leading the squad with 33 hits and seven home runs. Otstot drove in 15 runs despite only four extra-base hits this year.

Stoverstown catcher Dylan Spangler watches the action as Mechanicsburg's Kyle Otstot scores the go-ahead run in Central League baseball at Stoverstown Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Mechanicsburg took the one-run lead in the seventh inning, winning 2-1. Bill Kalina photo

A trio of Pistons finished the season with averages north of .400: Austin Denlinger, Brett Alaimo and Anthony Torreullas. Dalton Renn just missed at .398.

Denlinger, a York College standout, hit .462 with 24 hits, smashing a pair of homers while driving in 15. Alaimo, who is in his first year with the Pistons after coming over from Jacobus, hit .420 while scoring 27 runs. Torreullas hit an even .400 with half of his 18 hits going for extra-bases (eight doubles, one home run).

Ryky Smith led the Pistons with 23 RBIs and 28 runs scored while still batting .371. Smith also belted a team-best seven homers, while drawing a team-high 20 walks.

They said it: Here’s a sampling from around of the two leagues about what to expect:

►“Mechanicsburg is a young team, but they play confidently. They limit their mistakes well and are great at taking advantage of yours. They have three good starters that can win any game they throw.” – Jefferson manager Pat Schultz.

Stoverstown's Joe Capobianco can't handle the relay to third as Mechanicsburg's Ryan Gray advances during the Cardinals' seventh-inning rally in Central League baseball at Stoverstown Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Mechanicsburg took a one-run lead in the inning, winning 2-1. Bill Kalina photo

►“Mechanicsburg has a nice, young ballclub. They play hard and they came back several times throughout the year to win ballgames, and with a young ballclub that really speaks volumes. It’s usually the really experienced team that can battle back.” – former Stoverstown manager Tim Thoman.

►“Terry (Godfrey) has been unbelievable. With (Dylan) Stoops being out basically all year, we’ve had to go to Terry and go to (Tyler) Butch(er) and the Kreider brothers. And I would take any of them all day long.” – East Prospect veteran Ryky Smith.

►“When you have a couple veteran guys like Ryky, who pretty much runs the team on the field, and guys like (catcher) Mark Schauren, the guys listen to what they have to say. They know. They know where to be and where to play guys, even when we’re playing a Central League team, but they’re invaluable, man. It’s spectacular to have them.” – East Prospect manager Mark Toomey.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.