York County teams take aim at Tom Kerrigan baseball title this weekend

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
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Jefferson's Dylan Shaffer and Emidio Bucci congratulate each other after scoring runs in a game earlier this season. The Titans will attempt to win a third consecutive Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament championship this weekend.
  • The Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament is set for this weekend.
  • Four teams from the Central League and two teams from the Susquehanna League are competing.
  • The event runs Saturday through Monday. The title game is slated for 2 p.m. Monday at Mount Wolf.

This weekend, all eyes in the Central League and Susquehanna League will turn to the annual Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament.

Now that the regular-season and postseason in both York County leagues have ended, everyone involved in the local sandlot scene is focused the annual Labor Day weekend event.

This year’s edition figures to be one of the better in recent history.

While Ed Brenner, one of the tournament directors, hoped to fill out a 24-team field, Brenner had few, if any, complaints about the 20-team field that he ended up with.

Glen Rock second baseball Connor Hood makes a throw earlier this season. Glen Rock is one of four Central League teams competing in the Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament this weekend.

One of the more intriguing aspects of this year’s tournament is the number of local clubs entered. While there were years when both local leagues entered a trio of squads in the draw, this year’s event features four Central League clubs and two Susquehanna League outfits.

The CL squads — regular-season champion Mechanicsburg and playoff semifinalists Stoverstown, Glen Rock and Jefferson — figure to be among the favorites to take home the title Monday.

Why are there four you might ask?

Central League won't crown a playoff baseball champion this summer

Because of some player availability issues and a tight schedule, the CL playoffs couldn't be completed. As a result, the decision was made to invite all four CL semifinalsts into the Kerrigan.

“It’s an imperfect solution, but it’s an imperfect situation,” CL president Mark Skehan said.

One factor that came into play was the fact that two-time defending champion Jefferson was already guaranteed a Kerrigan berth no matter the outcome of the CL playoffs. Mechanicsburg also had clinched a Kerrigan berth by winning the CL regular season. So, if the CL playoffs had been completed, there was a chance that a third CL team — either Glen Rock or Stoverstown — could've won the playoff title and earned a Kerrigan berth.

Taking three teams was more of a problem for the Kerrigan folks than four, so the decision was made to invite all four CL semifinalists.

“Having (three CL teams) kind of put us in a predicament,” Brenner said. “We didn’t know if they would take the second spot or, if the didn’t win, a third spot. And we wouldn’t have known until last weekend and that would have put us in a spot. We would have had to have a team hanging or, worse, have to find one to come in late.”

Brenner initially expected to have 24 teams in the field, but several couldn’t find enough players (namely pitchers) to participate in a draw. The tournament champion will typically play seven or eight games over three days, which requires a ton of pitching depth.

The good news is that 20 teams worked out pretty well in setting up this year’s draw.

The format: The tournament pool-play action will take place on eight different CL fields Saturday and Sunday, with four pools of five teams apiece. Each pool will be played at one of two fields that are reasonably close in proximity to one another and all teams will be guaranteed at least four contests.

Pool A, which will be played at Mount Wolf and Pleasureville, includes the defending champion Titans, along with SL playoff runner-up Hallam. The other three teams in the pool include perennially tough Staten Island, Mason-Dixon and a team from Pittsburgh.

East Prospect makes it a clean sweep of Susquehanna League baseball championships

East Prospect's Austin Denlinger is seen here in action earlier this season. The Pistons won the Susquehanna League regular-season and playoff titles this season. They hope to add the Tom Kerrigan Memorial Baseball Tournament championship this weekend.

Pool B, hosted by Manchester and Shiloh, includes SL regular-season and playoff champ East Prospect. The Pistons, who were Kerrigan runners-up a few years ago, will be joined by Diamond Academy (formerly Lansdale and the Perkiomen Stars), South Penn, Quad County and Cecil County, a team that is making its 57th Kerrigan appearance.

Pool C features Glen Rock and Stoverstown as the host sites. Those two CL squads will be joined by the New York Hawks, the York Venom and Delco.

Brenner initially had Stoverstown and Glen Rock in different pools, but the Tigers wanted to play on their home field. Since those two sites are the closest geographically, the decision was made to move Stoverstown from the Shiloh site to their home field.

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The Stoverstown vs. Glen Rock contest at 3 p.m. Saturday will be played at Glen Rock.

Pool D, which will be played at Mechanicsburg and Dillsburg, features the newly crowned York County champion Cardinals. They are joined in the pool with the Pelham Mets, the Delco Stars, Beast Baseball and Pleasant Gap.

The top three teams in each pool earn a berth into the single-elimination 12-team championship draw that begins Sunday afternoon. The winner of each pool will earn a bye into the quarterfinal round, while the remaining eight teams will play first-round contests on Sunday afternoon.

The semifinals are slotted to begin at 9 a.m. Monday at Mount Wolf and Manchester. A third-place contest will be played at 11:30 at Mount Wolf before the championship battle at 2 p.m., also at Mount Wolf.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.