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The 2018 York-Adams League baseball season got off to stumbling start.
Miserable early-spring weather left area fields a mucky mess.
It appeared the season would never get underway.
In the last couple of weeks, however, the weather has finally moderated and the local players have gotten the chance to display their talents — and this year, there’s lots of talent to go around.
That’s especially true for the Route 74 corridor that connects longtime arch-rivals Dallastown and Red Lion.
The two neighboring schools have long battled fiercely for athletic supremacy.
This year’s struggle between the Wildcats and the Lions for the Y-A Division I baseball title, however, is shaping up as something truly special.
Dallastown (12-1) leads the division at 9-1, while Red Lion (7-3 overall) looms close behind at 7-2.
The records, however, tell just part of the story.
Standout pitchers: Both the Lions and the Wildcats are led by heralded pitchers who have already committed to NCAA Division I powers.
Red Lion’s Tyler Burchett, a towering, 6-foot, 5-inch right-hander with a low-90s fastball, is headed to Kentucky, which is ranked No. 14 in the nation.
Of course, that’s only if Burchett doesn’t turn pro, instead. Burchett is rated as one of the top five prospects in Pennsylvania and could be a high pick in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft in June.
The scouts have been following Burchett closely, and they have to be salivating at what they see. His size and velocity are both major-league caliber. He’s backed up those lofty measurables with some strong on-field performances. In 18 innings, he’s struck out 32. going 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA.
With those kinds of numbers, you might think Burchett would be considered head and shoulders above the Y-A League pitching crowd.
You would be wrong.
That’s because Dallastown boasts its own D-I recruit in Nick Parker, who’s headed for Coastal Carolina, which won the 2016 NCAA title and is ranked No. 18 this season.
Parker is not as big as Burchett at 6 feet tall, and he doesn’t throw quite as hard. As a result, he’s not rated quite as highly by the scouts. His ERA this year, however, is actually lower than Burchett’s at 0.48. Overall, Parker is 4-1 with 37 strikeouts over 29 innings.
Of course, Burchett, did get the best of Parker in their head-to-head meeting on a snowy Monday in early April — a 2-1 Red Lion triumph.
That was Parker’s first loss in his high school career and Dallastown’s only loss of the season.
Parker and Burchett are both threats at the plate, too, boasting averages north of .320.
Not one-man gangs: While it’s easy to focus only on Burchett and Parker and their prodigious talents, Red Lion and Dallastown are far from one-man gangs.
In fact, based just on ERA, Burchett and Parker aren't even the best pitchers on their teams.
For Dallastown, Morgan Smith (1-0) has not given up an earned run over 18 1/3 innings, while Alex Weakland (4-0) boasts a 0.30 ERA over 23 1/3 innings. Ben Writer, meanwhile, has a 0.58 ERA over 12 innings. Dallastown’s overall team ERA is a minuscule 0.39, allowing just five earned runs in 89 innings.
For Red Lion, C.J. Czerwinski (1-0) has a 0.57 ERA over 12 1/3 innings, while Sean Glatfelter (2-0) has a 0.91 ERA over 15 1/3 innings. Nathan Hodgkinson (1-0) isn’t far behind with a 2.83 ERA in 17 1/3 innings.
Great expectations: Dallastown, of course, came into this season with great expectations, after falling just one win short of a PIAA Class 6-A state title in 2017.
The Wildcats (who finished 23-5 last season) have not disappointed. They’re ranked No. 1 in the latest District 3 6-A power ratings.
Parker and Weakland were the pitching stalwarts during the Wildcats’ memorable 2017 postseason run, and their return this season made Dallastown a team with serious state title aspirations.
Red Lion, meanwhile, was not quite as highly regarded coming into 2018 after finishing at 13-7 in 2017, which included a first-round District 3 6-A loss.
The early-season win over Dallastown, however, garnered a lot of state-wide attention and the Lions are rated No. 6 in the district 6-A power ratings. The Lions’ three losses are to three good teams (Waynesboro, Gettysburg and Dover), who had a combined record of 22-8 entering Tuesday’s action.
Put all those factors together — arch-rivals, star power, first-rate teams — and you have a Y-A D-I baseball race that should be fascinating to follow over the coming weeks.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Statistics for this story came courtesy of the team’s sites on GameChanger.