SPRING GROVE — The achievements of the Spring Grove baseball team over the past couple of seasons have had a two-tiered effect.
With a core group of players that included Dalton Hoiles, Nick Spangler, Will Maughlin and Levi Krause, the Rockets were able to capture the past two York-Adams Division I titles. In the process, they also helped set the bar pretty high in terms of program expectations.
On the other hand, those players — most of whom have graduated — didn't provide a great deal of opportunity for younger players to gain experience at the varsity level.
So entering this season with a group that included just one senior, Coach Kevin Stiffler didn't know what to make of his bunch. But as the season progressed, Stiffler saw his team both win and grow more confident with each game.
That prompted Stiffler to ask his team a question at a practice.
"About a month ago I said: 'Why not us?,'" the Spring Grove coach said moments after his team clinched at least a share of a third-straight Division I title with an 11-1 victory over Dallastown. "There was a logjam at the top of Division I and we started to feel that we were playing some decent ball. So it was: 'Why not us? Why do we have to wait another year.' And most of the kids are juniors. And: 'Why not now?' And they kind of embraced that as a group."
That sentiment probably meant more to one player on the squad — senior pitcher Anthony Reed. It was Reed who helped carry his team to another milestone by again shutting down a scrappy Dallastown side. The left-hander held the Wildcats to just one hit over six innings. He also struck out four and walked three in picking up the victory.
"We always had it in our minds that we can do something," said Reed, who also held Dallastown to just one hit in their previous match up. "We have a group of guys that want to be here and want to win, which is great. This is a really fun team and we know that every game we go into we have a chance to win."
The Rockets (12-4 overall, 10-2 Division I) were able to make life easier on their senior standout by jumping out to an early lead. The home side sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning and scored three runs off Dallastown starter Riley Hamberger.
Part of Spring Grove's success early was their ability to make Hamberger work to throw strikes, which proved to be difficult. Hamberger had trouble locating his pitches — particularly his breaking ball.
By the time the inning was over, Hamberger's pitch count was over 40.
"(Hamberger) had trouble," Stiffler said. "And we just said that until he establishes (his curve ball) that we're going to lay off that pitch."
The Dallastown defense did their pitchers — Hamberger and reliever Brandon White — no favors on the field. The Wildcats (8-7, 7-5) committed six errors, which resulted in six unearned runs.
"One hit and six errors isn't going to win you any ballgames," Dallastown coach Scott Altland said. "We had that at the beginning of the year and I thought we were over those hiccups, but today it reared its ugly head again."
Errors provided the Rockets some insurance during a five-run sixth that resulted in the 10-run mercy rule being invoked. A throwing error led off the inning before Brandon Schuchart eventually laced a two-run single. A fielder's choice ground out drove in another run before another error extended the inning. White seemed to be on the cusp of getting out of the inning, but a fly ball to right was dropped, allowing two more runs to score to make it 11-1.
Trent Baker and Derek Hoiles led a nine-hit Spring Grove attack with three hits each. Schuchart drove in three runs, while Baker added two RBIs in the victory.
Dallastown's lone hit came off the bat of catcher Cody Sommerville, who drilled a RBI double in the top of the third that drew the visitors to within 4-1 at that point.
Red Land 9, West York 7: At Red Land, the Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season in a non-league contest. West York dropped to 12-1, while Red Land improved to 8-7. The Patriots scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to erase a 7-5 West York lead. The Bulldogs committed five errors which led to five unearned runs. Colton Kubicki had two hits and a run scored for the Bulldogs, while Logan Stover drove in two runs.
Bermudian Springs 11, Eastern 10: At York Springs, Alex Tweardy and Toby Sponseller each went 4-for-5 to lift the Eagles over the York-Adams Division III leader. For the Golden Knights, Colby Shimmel went 3-for-5 with three runs scored, while Brandon Knarr went 1-for-1 with two RBIs and Brandon Fry had two stolen bases. Eastern fell to 9-2 in Division III and 10-5 overall.
Central York 11, South Western 1: At Hanover, the Panthers used a seven-run second inning to roll past the Mustangs. Central out hit South Western, 14-6. Elzir Stroman had three hits for the winners, while Joe Kroeger had three RBIs. Ryan Crum and Mike Davis each added two RBIs for Central. Alex Myers pitched 4 2/3 innings to get the win.
Susquehannock 4, Northeastern 2: At Manchester, Dustin Babaie and Josh Bobbitt combined on a five-hitter for the Warriors. Babaie started and pitched five innings to get the win. Bobbitt pitched two shutout innings to get the save. Kevin Chick had two hits, a run scored and an RBI for the winners, while Jake Mahan added two hits. Trae Beyer doubled and drove both of Northeastern's runs, while Nick Sprenkle had two hits and two runs scored.
Kennard-Dale 2, Dover 1: At Fawn Grove, Kyle Amrhein threw a complete game on the mound, striking out six and walking none, to lead the Rams. Also for K-D, Ryan Vipperman and Stephen Miller each doubled. For the Eagles, William Fetrow threw a complete game, striking out six and walking one, while teammates Zach Altland and Austin Jewitt each doubled.
Red Lion 5, New Oxford 2 (8 innings): At New Oxford, the Lions' Hank Shultz came through in the clutch, smacking a two-run double in the top of the eighth to help Red Lion collect the win. Keegan Romanoff had a pair of hits for the Colonials.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.