Central League won't crown a playoff baseball champion this summer
- The Central League won't crown a playoff baseball champion in 2021.
- Stoverstown and Mechanicsburg won't be able to finish their semifinal series.
- Problems with player availability won't allow the Stoverstown-Mechanicsburg series to be concluded.
The Central League will not crown a playoff champion this summer.
Central League president Mark Skehan said difficulties with player availability will not allow Stoverstown and Mechanicsburg to finish their best-of-three semifinal series. That series is tied at 1-1 after Stoverstown rallied for a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.
Skehan said Stoverstown doesn’t have enough players to field a team on Wednesday night and Mechanicsburg doesn’t have enough players to field a team on Thursday night. Game 3 was originally scheduled to be played Thursday night.
Stoverstown's Levi Krause said his team wasn't asked to move Thursday's scheduled Game 3 to Wednesday until shortly after the conclusion of Tuesday night's Game 2. Krause said that given the nature of the "working-man's league," with players having day jobs, it was impossible to gather enough players on such short notice, especially given the fact that the game was scheduled for Mechanicsburg and that some players had to travel an hour to get to the Cumberland County field for a 5:45 p.m. start.
Krause believes that if Mechanicsburg couldn't field a Game 3 team on Thursday, as originally scheduled, the Cardinals should've been forced to forfeit the series.
Mechanicsburg's Teed Wertz had a different take on the events. Wertz said his team was prepared to try to play Thursday, but was asked by the league to move Game 3 to Wednesday. The Cardinals, Wertz said, agreed to play Wednesday. At that point, one of Mechanicsburg's players made other arrangements for Thursday and would not be available to play on Thursday.
Then, when Stoverstown said it couldn't play on Wednesday, discussions began about again playing the game on Thursday, as originally scheduled, At that point, Wertz said his team may not have enough players to field a team on Thursday because of the player making other arrangements when he thought the teams were playing Wednesday.
Skehan, meanwhile, said that even if Mechanicsburg would’ve won Tuesday night to win the semifinal series vs. the Tigers, the regular-season champion Cardinals wouldn’t have had enough players to field a team for the championship series, which was scheduled for this coming weekend.
Wertz, however, said the only day during a potential title series that his team may not have enough players would be Sunday.
“It’s an imperfect solution, but it’s an imperfect situation,” said Skehan, who called the situation a "mess."
The other semifinal series between Jefferson and Glen Rock was also tied 1-1 after Glen Rock earned a 4-2 victory in 11 innings on Tuesday. That was the completion of a suspended game from Monday night.
Skehan and Jefferson manager Pat Schultz said that the Jefferson-Glen Rock series will not be concluded either.
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Kerrigan event: Skehan also said that since the Central League playoffs will not be concluded, the league will now send all four semifinal teams to the annual Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament over Labor Day weekend: Mechanicsburg (28-8), Stoverstown (26-14), two-time defending champion Jefferson (27-11-1) and Glen Rock (27-10).
The league normally sends two teams to the Kerrigan event.
That tournament has been expanded from 16 to 24 teams this season because of increased demand, Skehan said. That event will also include two teams from the Susquehanna League — regular-season champion East Prospect and Hallam. Those two teams will battle for the SL playoff crown starting Thursday.
Glen Rock 4, Jefferson 2 (11 innings): At Jefferson, Glen Rock finally captured Game 2 of the Central League playoff semifinal series.
The series is deadlocked at 1-1 after Jefferson won Game 1, 3-0, on Saturday.
Game 2 was originally set for Sunday, but was rained out. The contest got started Monday, but was tied 2-2 after six innings when it was suspended because of darkness.
It was resumed Tuesday, and neither team could score until the 11th, when Glen Rock plated two runs. Connor Hood’s sacrifice fly scored the first run in the 11th, while the other run scored on an error.
On Tuesday, Tim Halasnik pitched four innings of two-hit shutout relief to get the win. Hood pitched a shutout bottom of the 11th to get the save.
Jefferson’s Jon Kibler pitched four innings of three-hit shutout relief on Tuesday in a no-decision.
Stoverstown 3, Mechanicsburg 2: At Stoverstown, Xavier Bonilla’s two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh gave the Tigers the walk-off victory.
Chris Mattison opened the seventh with a walk and Bonilla followed with the homer. The Tigers won with just three hits.
Daryl Harang allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings for Stoverstown. Kyle Raubenstine got the final two outs in the top of the seventh to record the win.
Mechanicsburg’s Troy Schreffler had two hits, including a homer.
Reach Steve Heiser at email@example.com. This story has been updated with new material.