SHILOH — It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that this week will be pivotal for the West York baseball team.
With games against York-Adams League Division II rivals Dover and Gettysburg on the schedule, in addition to cross-over games against Spring Grove and Red Lion, the Bulldogs can either gain firm control of D-II, or fall off the pace.
Coach Scott Erickson, however, doesn’t allow his youthful, yet experienced squad much chance to look too far down the road. The only game on the minds of the West York players on Monday afternoon was the one against rival Dover in Shiloh.
While the weather was much better than for most of the spring, — sunny, 65 degrees — a sometimes strong and persistent wind quickly turned the showdown into a pitchers' duel.
Dover starter Shane Heffner limited the opposition to just one run over the first four innings. West York starter Justin Wetzel, meanwhiile, allowed just a sacrifice fly to Alan Hansel in the third.
Haffner, however, was victimized by a costly error in the fifth when a fly ball to left-center was dropped, allowing the go-ahead run to score with one out. Despite inducing a line-drive double play to get out of the inning without further damage, Haffner’s teammates could not push another run across against Wetzel, allowing the Bulldogs to claim a key 2-1 triumph.
West York (9-5 overall) gained sole possession of first in the division at 7-3. The Bulldogs are now a half game ahead of idle Gettysburg (8-4, 6-3) and 1½ games in front of Dover (9-5, 6-5).
“That dropped ball was essentially the game,” Erickson said. “We took advantage of it. Now we had a couple of errors that we have to clean up and play a little better, but we’ll take this win. Dover’s a very good team.”
Had it not been for four errors by his defense, Haffner would not have allowed a run. He gave up three hits, two walks and zero earned runs in a complete-game effort. The right-hander kept the Bulldogs off balance throughout with a mix of fastballs and off-speed pitches.
Instead of celebrating a brilliant performance from their ace, however, the Eagles had to watch as the Bulldogs gave high-fives to Wetzel, who earned a complete-game three-hit victory.
“He was around the zone mainly,” Erickson said of Wetzel. “He had a couple of walks, but besides that he made them swing and got a lot of outs from his defense.”
Wetzel escaped a two-on, no out jam in the top of the sixth unscathed before inducing three grounders to second to complete the triumph.
“I wasn’t getting the outside (strike) at all, so me and my catcher, Anthony (Kahley), just had to keep grinding and find out what would work,” Wetzel said. “We started working inside with the curve ball and every once in a while mixing in a two-seamer on the outside.”
The Eagles appeared to be primed for a big inning in the sixth. An error and walk put runners on first and second with no outs. A grounder to third went down as just a force out at third when the throw to first pulled Jacob Mease off the bag. Wetzel recovered with a strikeout and a fly out to center to end the threat.
“I’m just trying to make them hit the ball every time,” Wetzel said. “And I know that with our defense out there, and I think we have one of the best defenses out there, I trust them to make the plays and they did.”
Dover catcher Andrew Chronister was the lone batter for either side to collect more than one hit (two singles). Chronister also walked in his three plate appearances.
York Catholic 11, Hanover 1 (5 innings): At York, the Fighting Irish improved to 7-3 overall and 7-2 in York-Adams Division IV. Luke Kordaz (three hits, double, five RBIs) and Kevin Duncan (two hits, two RBIs, run) paced the Irish offense. Evan Tanner pitched four hitless, shutout innings to get the win, striking out three. Tanner also doubled at the plate with an RBI and a run scored. The win, combined with Biglerville's loss to York Tech, moved York Catholic into first place.
York Tech 7, Biglerville 3: At Spry, Juan Lopez had three hits (including a double), three RBIs and two runs scored to power Tech to the win over the York-Adams Division IV leader. Joey VonRohr added two Tech RBIs. Nathan Chronister pitched 1 1/3 innings of shutout relief to get the save. Luke Greisler pitched the first 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, to get the win. Biglerville fell to 9-4 overall and 7-3 in the division. Tech improved to 7-6 and 5-5.
York Suburban 9, Northeastern 1: At Manchester, Carson Holsinger and Lucas Miller combined on a three-hit shutout. Holsinger went the first four innings to get the win. Maxwell Reinecker (three hits, double, two RBIs, two runs), Tracy Carr (two hits, two runs, RBI), Trey Pridgen (two hits, two runs), Adam Petersen (double, RBI, run) and Nick Miller (two RBIs, run) led Suburban's attack. Josh Rich had all three of Northeastern's hits (including two doubles), with a run scored.
Kennard-Dale 17, Littlestown 1 (3 innings): At Fawn Grove, in a battle of York-Adams Division III leaders, the Rams left no doubt about the outcome to improve to 10-3 overall and 8-1 in the division. Littlestown fell to 9-3 and 8-3. Adam Freese (three hits, homer, double, six RBIs, run), Garrett Lowe (two hits, homer, five RBIs, two runs) and Carson Fish (two hits, homer, two RBIs, two runs) powered K-D. Pitchers Ethan Phillips and Ryan Dandy allowed just two hits for the Rams.
South Western 6, Central York 5: At Central, South Western broke a 5-5 tie with a run in the top of the seventh. Mike Nizinski (three hits, run) and Michael Livingston (two hits, RBI) led Central's offense. Livingston also pitched well in relief, allowing one earned run and three hits over five innings.
New Oxford 12, Spring Grove 2 (6 innings): At Spring Grove, Pat Anderson tripled and Aaron Perry doubled in a losing cause for the Rockets, who had just four hits.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.