GETTYSBURG — The West York baseball team had to scratch and claw over the last three weeks just to put itself in a position to make the playoffs.
So, perhaps it's only fitting that its postseason fate will come down to the last day of the season.
After getting off to a slow start through the first several weeks of the regular season, the Bulldogs hit their stride and eventually overtook Gettysburg in the York-Adams League Division II standings, thanks to some help from the Warriors, who simultaneously began slumping. All of that gave West York a one-game lead in the division race heading into Wednesday's showdown at Gettysburg. The Bulldogs already clinched at least a share of the division title, but the winner of the game would secure the berth into the league tournament, with the Warriors owning the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Gettysburg wound up winning Wednesday's game, 5-4, to grab a share of the division title and book its spot in next week's league tournament. West York, meanwhile, must now wait and see if it'll hang onto one of the last District 3 Class 4-A playoff spots.
It was West York's second one-run loss to Gettysburg this season.
"I think we've lost six games now by one run," Bulldogs' head coach Scott Erickson said. "We've been right there in every game and just couldn't get on the right side of it."
Wednesday was no exception.
After falling behind 3-0 heading into the fifth inning, West York (10-10 overall, 10-4 D-II) showed the fight it has shown the last few weeks, stringing together a pair of two-run innings in the fifth and sixth to grab a 4-3 advantage. Anthony Kahley did the damage in the fifth with a two-run double to make it 3-2, Warriors. Then two runs were plated in the sixth on an error and sacrifice fly by Corey Wise to give the Bulldogs the 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.
However, the game turned in that frame once West York ace Zach Gettys had to leave the mound after reaching his 100-pitch limit. He left with a man on first base and two outs in the inning, but Gettysburg got to reliever Jacob Mease for two runs, one of which was charged to Gettys, to reclaim a 5-4 advantage.
The Bulldogs did get the tying run into scoring position in the top of the seventh, but couldn't do anything with it, leaving him stranded at second.
"These guys have logged countless amount of innings together, so I think they trust each other," Warriors head coach Ryan Brady said about his team's resolve to come back. "They're good enough to make the plays. We had a freshman (Zach Ketterman) on the mound to get the final out and nobody blinked at that because we were all confident that he was going to get the final out."
After sitting out the first inning for undisclosed reasons, Gettys pitched a strong game for West York, getting deep into the sixth inning. The only time he ran into any trouble came in the bottom of the fourth when he loaded the bases with nobody out. After recording back-to-back strikeouts and getting leadoff man Ketterman to two strikes, he couldn't find the one pitch to put him away, allowing a two-run single and then an RBI single to Michael Tempel before finally getting out of the frame, but trailing 3-0.
"He threw well," Erickson said of Gettys. "He knew the circumstances he was in and he came in and did his job. That one inning I think he threw 32 or 36 pitches and that bumped his pitch count there and I think if we get out of that inning with just one run, I think he can go another one and we're not hopefully running out of pitchers."
Gettys wound up allowing four runs, but just one earned, over 5 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and striking out five. Ketterman picked up the win for Gettysburg, entering in relief of starter Josh Topper in the sixth and recording the final six outs, allowing just one run.
The share of the division title for the Warriors is their first since 1981, when they still played in the now-defunct Blue Mountain League. They're still not a shoo-in for districts, needing a win on Thursday vs. Littlestown to solidify that, but they've at least guaranteed some sort of postseason baseball with the league tournament berth.
The same can't be said for the Bulldogs, who had a decent cushion for the 10th-and-final district spot in 4-A, but made things interesting with the loss. They now must now sweat out the other results in the class.
"We're doing the math, scouting out every other team that's below us, what games they have left," Erickson said. "But, I told my guys that we're going to play. With the schedule that we had and the teams that we played, I think we're going to be 10th. So, we're going to show up to practice for the next, just over a week, and be prepared to play on May 22."
Central York 4, York Suburban 0: At Central, Brandon Walters threw a one-hit shutout to lead the Panthers. Walters struck out 13, walked none and allowed just one single. He also connected for a double at the plate. Also for Central, Nick Myers went 2 for 4 with two runs scored, Landon Ness went 1 for 2 with two RBIs and Jordan King doubled.
Big Spring 11, Dover 8: At Dover, the Eagles trailed 11-2, but plated six runs in the bottom of the sixth. They were unable to complete the comeback. Joe Morrett led the Eagles by going 2 for 4, including a double, with two RBIs and one run scored. Morrett also threw two shutout innings in relief while striking out three and walking one. Also for Dover, Andrew Chronister went 1 for 2 with two runs scored and two RBI's, while Trey Neiman doubled.
Cumberland Valley 7, Red Lion 3: At Mechanicsburg, the Eagles plated three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a commanding lead and went on to capture the non-league victory. For the Lions, Hank Shultz went 3 for 3 with two runs scored and one RBI, while Connor Dewees went 2 for 2 and Patrick Daugherty went 2 for 3 with one run scored.
Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org.