GETTYSBURG — Playing meaningful baseball at this point in the season has been a rarity over the past several years for Red Lion.
The Lions have not made the District 3 playoffs since 2012.
This year, however, has been different. Red Lion finds itself in a tie for the York-Adams Division I lead and is ranked third in the latest District 3 6-A power ratings. The postseason is all but certain for the Lions this year, barring a late-season collapse.
That is what made Monday's game at Gettysburg so crucial.
The Lions were facing a Warriors team that has taken control of the Division II standings. It pitted two of the league's better clubs against each other in a meaningful league showdown.
Monday, Red Lion got the better of Gettysburg, using a seven-run fifth inning to break open a tie game and come away with a huge 9-2 road victory.
"Every single game matters," Lions' head coach Kevin Lawrence said. "We're in a tie in the division and the (third-place) team is only a game back, so we didn't prepare, as a coaching staff, any differently for this game than we did for any other game, and our players' challenge is to make sure that they don't prepare any differently."
Red Lion (9-2 overall, 7-2 in Division I) fell behind by a run twice through the first two innings, but each time clawed back to level terms. Then in the fifth, the Lions' bats came alive. They also took advantage of some shoddy defense by the Warriors (9-2 overall, 7-1 Division II)
After loading the bases with only one out in the inning, Cole Delp delivered the first big blow with a bases-clearing triple to push the Lions in front for the first time, 5-2. He was driven in one batter later by Tyler Burchett, and then Patrick Daugherty brought home another guy to make it 7-2. The final two runs in the inning scored on a second error in the inning to make it 9-2 and put Red Lion firmly in control. Of the nine runs scored in the contest for the Lions, only five were earned.
"From the beginning, he was throwing a first-pitch fastball and you could see the curve ball out of his hand," said Delp, who finished a home run shy of the cycle. "So, we just went up and saw if we could hit the first-pitch fastball and, if not, wait on the curve ball and drive it the other way."
After staking starting pitcher Tyler Stabley to the big lead, he did the rest. After holding a strong Warriors offense to two runs on five hits through the first two frames, Stabley settled in, getting through six complete innings, allowing two hits and a walk over his final four innings. He reached the 100-pitch threshold during the final batter of the sixth and finished with a line of six innings, two earned runs on seven hits, a pair of walks and six strikeouts.
"He did struggle a little bit by his own standards in those first couple innings when he was facing pretty good hitters," Lawrence said about Stabley. "What he demonstrated was a lot of maturity to be able to come back and get himself settled in and continue to get outs because that's a spot where a lot of guys just fall apart."
Along with Delp's big day at the plate, Patrick Daugherty went 3 for 4 with an RBI and run scored.
For Gettysburg, this game felt like a missed opportunity because of the errors the team made. Gettysburg's performances over the last week haven't been up to par with what head coach Ryan Brady would like to see, and Monday's defeat was the latest example.
"Overall, we just weren't sharp today," Brady said. "It was just one of those games where we weren't sharp. I don't really have an explanation for it, but when you're not sharp against a team like Red Lion, you're not going to win."
Dallastown 2, Northeastern 1: At Manchester, Jake Gates led the Wildcats by starting the game on the mound and throwing 6 2/3 innings, striking out seven, walking two and allowing zero earned runs. Tye Golden and Alex Weakland each went 1 for 2 for Dallastown, while relief pitcher Michael Carr struck out the final batter of the game on three pitches. For the Bobcats, Robbie Elzinga went 1 for 2 with one run scored, Robbie Clipp went 1 for 1 and starting pitcher Robbie Smith threw 5 2/3 innings, striking out two, walking five and allowing one earned run. Dallastown improved to 7-2 in the division and 8-4 overall.
Kennard-Dale 2, Biglerville 1: At Fawn Grove, Ben Stewart pitched 6 1/3 innings of four-hit, one-run ball to get the win, striking out eight and walking three. Sean Fletcher pitched two-thirds of an inning to get the save. Ben Lowe had two hits and scored a run for K-D. Each team had just four hits. K-D improved to 10-3 overall and 7-2 in York-Adams Division III.
York Tech 8, Eastern York 5: At Wrightsville, Nathan Chronister pitched six innings and allowed four runs to get the win. At the plate, he had a hit and scored two runs. Camden Schanberger (two hits, run, RBI), Jacob Perry (two hits, RBI), Tyler Smith (hit, two RBIs, run) and Luke Greisler (two RBIs, run) also excelled at the plate for Tech. Bren Taylor had four hits, three runs scored and two RBIs in a losing cause. Taylor hit for the cycle.
Dover 12, South Western 3: At Dover, Zach Atland led the Eagles by going 4 for 4 at the plate, including a double and a triple, with two runs scored and two RBIs. Also for Dover, Wil Fetrow went 2 for 4, with a grand slam; Andrew Chronister went 3 for 4 with a triple, four RBIs and two runs scored; Nic Morrett went 1 for 2 with three runs scored; and starting pitcher Shane Haffner threw six innings, striking out eight, walking one and allowing two earned runs.
West York 3, New Oxford 1: At West York, Zach Gettys pitched a complete-game one-hitter, striking out 11 and walking three. He also had a hit and scored a run at the plate. Anthony Kahley had two hits, including a double, and drove in a run for the Bulldogs.
Spring Grove 12, York Suburban 2: At Suburban, Connor Reed led the Rockets by going 3 for 4 at the plate, including a homer and a double, to go with three runs scored, and three RBIs. Also for the Rockets, Austin Piety doubled with two runs scored and one RBI, Brandyn Schuchart doubled and Cameron Sterner threw a complete game on the mound, striking out four and walking two. For the Trojans, Jake Taylor went 2 for 3, including a homer, with two RBIs, while Miles Staub and Carson Holsinger each doubled.
Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com.