MANCHESTER — It's a common notion at any level of baseball that leadoff walks turn into runs more often than not.
Northeastern learned that the hard way on Wednesday when, in three separate innings, West York batters reached first base on a free pass to lead off an inning, and all three times they came around to score. As a result, the Bulldogs (8-0 overall, 7-0 York-Adams Division II) made relatively easy work of the Bobcats (7-5 overall, 5-2 Division II) in a battle of the top two teams in the Division II, winning 10-2 and moving two games ahead in the standings.
After the first two innings went by scoreless, the first slip up for either side came in the top of the third, when West York's No. 9 hitter, Sam Eyler, worked a leadoff walk off of Northeastern pitcher Adam Kipp and turned the lineup over for the Bulldogs. Brett Kinneman, a North Carolina State commit, was the next man up for the Bulldogs and deposited a 2-2 fastball over the right-field fence for a two-run home run, drawing first blood for the road team.
"I was honestly looking curve ball," Kinneman said. "I didn't get many fastballs my first at-bat and didn't think that I was going to get that many my second at-bat, but he threw me a pretty good pitch and (I got around on it.)"
That shot by Kinneman kick-started the West York offense, which went on to put up four more runs in the next inning, again aided by a leadoff walk that came around to score. The Bobcats scratched across a run in the bottom half of the fourth to make it 6-1, but the damage was already done. Northeastern would never cut the Bulldogs' lead to less than five runs. West York added four runs over the final three innings, while the Bobcats only managed a single run in the fifth. In total, Northeastern left 10 men on base, unable to get a timely hit or put up a big number up against West York starter Logan Stover.
"Logan is a bulldog," Bulldogs coach Roger Czerwinski said. "He's bullheaded sometimes, but he's a bulldog. He's going to go after it and he's not afraid to throw strikes. When he's on, his change-up's working, his off-speed is working. Let's face it, he throws 78-80 mph, but he's able to hit spots."
Right from the very beginning, the game had a playoff-type atmosphere, with both teams doing a lot of talking from the dugouts, warranting both benches to be warned at separate points in the contest.
"It was a pretty cool atmosphere," Kinneman said. "Both teams chatted it up pretty good. Lot of excitement going on, especially in the early innings, there was a lot of excitement going on. ... It was definitely a fun game to play in and those are the kind of games you want to play in."
Kipp only lasted four innings for the Bobcats, surrendering six runs, five earned, on only three hits, but gave up six walks. When the bases were empty, he was tough to hit for West York. But, even when only one runner got on base for the Bulldogs, their aggressiveness on the base paths created all sorts of problems for Kipp, resulting in big innings.
"Anybody that knows us, we average, for the last three years, we average 100 stolen bases per year," Czerwinski said. "So, we've had success and that's what really sets it up for us."
Brady Dolan pitched 1 1/3 innings in relief of Kipp, giving up three runs, two earned, on two hits and four walks. Kenny Kopp finished it out for Northeastern, throwing the final 1 2/3 innings, giving up one run.
For West York, Stover threw four-plus innings, giving up two runs, one earned, on a single hit and four walks. Cash Gladfelter recorded the final nine outs in relief, striking out three, while only giving up a single hit.
At the plate, Kinneman, Gladfelter and Stover provided much of the pop for the Bulldogs at the top of the order, producing six of the team's eight RBIs, while Kinneman scored all three times he reached base.
It was a convincing win over a good team for West York, a team that won back-to-back state titles in 2012 and 2013, but played second fiddle to the Bobcats last postseason, a team that made it to the state tournament.
"More than, I guess, standings, it's nice beating a quality ball club," Czerwinski said. "And I think they're very quality. ... It's a nice win, but, again, today's done. We gotta look at the next game."
Eastern York 9, Littlestown 3: At Wrightsville, the Golden Knights won the York-Adams Division III showdown behind Brandon Knarr, who pitched a complete-game four-hitter, striking out 16 and walking six. He threw 138 pitches. He was also 3-for-3 at the plate with an RBI. Colby Shimmel added two RBIs and two runs scored for the winners, while Brandyn Fry homered, drove in two runs and scored two runs. Eastern (6-3 overall) took over first place in the division at 6-0. Littlestown fell to 8-1 overall and 7-1 in the division.
Spring Grove 4, Red Lion 1: At Spring Grove, Matt Brooks pitched a complete-game six-hitter to get the win, striking out 11 and walking two. He also scored two runs and drove in a run. The Rockets won despite getting out hit, 6-3. They were helped by six walks allowed by Red Lion pitchers. Derek Hoiles and Brandyn Schuchart each added a hit and an RBI for the winners. Roger Shultz (two hits, double, run) and Alex Zelger (two hits) led Red Lion. Spring Grove (7-3 overall) remained in first place in York-Adams Division I at 6-2.
York Catholic 3, Biglerville 0: At Biglerville, Brandon Kennedy pitched a seven-hit shutout to get the win, striking out five and walking one. The Canners out hit the Irish, 7-4. Chase Long pitched a complete game for Biglerville, striking out eight and walking four. Kennedy also doubled for the winners, as did Dillon Hippensteel. Noah Ayers had two hits, including a double, for Biglerville, while Jordan Trostel also doubled. York Catholic improved to 5-2 overall and 5-1 in York-Adams Division IV.
Gettysburg 3, York Suburban 2: Luke Wlazlak excelled at the plate and on the mound for Gettysburg. Wlazlak got the win, pitching five innings and giving up one earned run. He struck out four and walked one. He was also 2-for-3 with an RBI. Gettysburg's Ethan Ketterman was also 2-for-3 with an RBI. Michael Tempel pitched two shutout innings in relief to get the save, striking out three without a walk. Thomas Merkle pitched a complete-game, six-hitter for Suburban, striking out four and walking two while allowing two earned runs. He was also 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and a run scored. Bradley Smith added two hits for Suburban.
Dallastown 6, Central York 0: At Dallastown, Sam Deardorff got the win, striking out seven and walking two. Bryant Holtzapple homered and had three RBIs for the winners. Tye Golden, Brandon White and Riley Hamberger tripled for Dallastown, while Nick Schuler doubled. Schuler also came in to pitch in the seventh. Ryan Crum had three of Central's six hit. Mike Davis pitched a complete-game six-hitter for Central, striking out four.
Susquehannock 14, Dover 6: At Dover, Aaron Portner led the Warriors, going 3-for-4, including two runs scored and two RBIs. Also for the Warriors, Cody Dennis went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored, Alex Palmer doubled and Connor Hood tripled. For the Eagles, Nicolaus Morrett doubled.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org