Susquehannock baseball rides ace pitchers to repeat York-Adams League title
The Warriors beat Dallastown and Delone Catholic on Monday to capture their second straight league title.
The Susquehannock baseball team had been laser-focused on its York-Adams League tournament semifinal game against Dallastown since the matchups were announced last week. So when the Warriors beat the Wildcats on Monday afternoon at Red Lion, head coach Joel Stoneberg knew a brief letdown could be in store.
“To them, that was the mountaintop all week — ‘We’ve gotta go beat Dallastown,’” Stoneberg said. “(But) there was still a game to be played.”
After a 3-0 semifinal victory that avenged a regular-season defeat, Susquehannock took some time to reset its focus for the Monday evening final against Delone Catholic. The Squires plated the first two runs of the contest, and while Susky quickly leveled the score, neither team could pull away.
But the Warriors broke the game open with four runs in the sixth, senior Brayden Heaps put the finishing touches on a complete game in the seventh and Susquehannock poured out of the dugout to celebrate a 6-3 victory and a second straight YAIAA championship.
Monday night called back in many ways to a year ago, when Susky — then the York-Adams Division III champion, before moving up to D-II this year — also beat Dallastown and Delone Catholic in pitcher’s duels to capture the title. But there’s something special about a repeat, especially for the seniors who played such key roles in going back-to-back.
“This is a really awesome moment for us,” Heaps said. “In our last year, we wanted to leave an impact on our school, and this is how we’re gonna do it.”
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Delone Catholic, which coasted to the Division IV title, shut down D-III champion Bermudian Springs, 3-0, in Monday’s semifinal at Dallastown, while the Warriors and Wildcats played at Red Lion’s Horn Field. The Squires made the short trip to Red Lion for the final, which started about 10 minutes earlier than its scheduled time of 6:30 due to the brisk pace of the early games.
Trent Giraffa and Chris Cole lashed doubles for Delone in the bottom of the second, with Cole coming home on Matthew Mummert’s single to make it 2-0. When the Warriors returned to the dugout, it was clear the Squires’ scoring had jolted them back into the moment.
“I saw the look on the kids. They came off the field and I said to our assistant coach, ‘The switch is flipped,’” Stoneberg said. “I saw the kids all of a sudden realize, ‘We’re not gonna lose the county title now.’”
With one out in the third, Heaps singled and Josh Preston tripled to put the Warriors on the board. Luke Geiple’s two-out double scored Preston and tied the game at 2-2. Both Heaps and Delone’s Denver Ostrum settled into a groove from there, with neither team threatening again until the top of the sixth.
Geiple, the Warriors’ No. 3 hitter, started the frame with a double, and Squires coach Jimmy Smith pulled Ostrum for relief pitcher Aidan Wittmer. After Cameron Brewer’s sacrifice bunt moved Geiple to third, Jarryn Andrews slapped a single that gave Susky a 3-2 lead. Josh Pecunes singled and Grayson Copenhaver was plunked by a pitch to load the bases. With two outs, Heaps drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 4-2 and Preston lashed a single past third base to score two more.
Wittmer and Brodie Collins singled to start the bottom of the sixth, but Heaps induced a crucial double play that wiped out the Squires’ momentum despite scoring a run. The senior — who recorded the final two outs of the Dallastown game before going the distance in the final — retired the last five batters he faced.
“I was struggling a little bit in the first half of the game,” Heaps said, “but all the guys were there to pick me up. ‘Hey, head up, let’s go. We believe in you.’ That’s what this team’s all about — we’ve all got each other’s back.”
Heaps allowed three earned runs on seven hits while striking out seven without a walk and throwing 80 pitches to lock down the league title. Geiple went 3 for 4 at the plate, while Preston finished 2 for 3 with a game-high three RBIs and Pecunes was 2 for 4. The Warriors finished with nine hits to Delone’s seven.
Ostrum was charged with three runs in five innings for the Squires, while Wittmer gave up the last three runs in the sixth-inning surge. Collins finished 2 for 3 at the plate, while five of his Squire teammates added hits of their own.
While Delone Catholic will have a week to regroup before beginning its District 3 Class 2A title defense next Monday, Susquehannock is back in action Friday in the opening round of the 5A district tournament. The Warriors figure to be the No. 3 seed in that 16-team bracket; current rankings would pair them with No. 14 Shippensburg.
While Monday will provide players and coaches with a lasting memory, Susquehannock’s season will be on the line Friday. And as much as a county title is to be celebrated, this next stage of the postseason is where legacies are truly left.
“Counties, to me, it a little bit more (about) bragging rights,” Stoneberg said. “It’s great, we love it, but we still have a lot of goals to check the box off.”
Susquehannock 3, Dallastown 0: Warriors ace Joe Smith outdueled Dallastown’s Conner Barto, allowing just three hits in 6 1/3 scoreless frames before Heaps finished the shutout.
“I just wanted to come out and do better than I did last time and do what I could to give my teammates a chance to win,” Smith said. “I did that, and we scored some runs and got the win.”
Barto went the distance on the other side, allowing two earned runs on six hits. Copenhaver singled home Pecunes to make it 1-0 in the top of the second, Preston delivered an RBI triple in the fifth and the Warriors added an insurance run on the error in the sixth.
Preston had the lone multi-hit game for either side, going 2 for 3 with a walk. Dallastown had runners on first and second with no outs in the fourth and seventh innings, but Smith worked out of the first jam and Heaps finished the job in the final frame.
Dallastown, which beat Susquehannock 3-1 behind a gem from Barto on March 28, fell to 16-5 with the loss. The Wildcats are No. 4 in the District 3 Class 6A power rankings, which would merit a bye in the 12-team tournament if it holds.
Delone Catholic 3, Bermudian Springs 0: Cole Lambert stole the show for the Squires in the afternoon, pitching a shutout and launching a home run in the sixth to lead Delone past the Division III champion Eagles (15-5).
Lambert allowed five singles and a walk while striking out eight in his 100-pitch performance. Bermudian’s Gabe Kline kept the game scoreless for four innings before Collins delivered a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the fifth. Lambert’s solo shot in the sixth chased Kline from the game after 5 1/3 innings and three runs allowed on five hits.
No players had multi-hit games in the semifinal contest, although Collins was 1 for 2 and reached on a walk.
Bermudian Springs closed the regular season on an 11-game winning streak — which included a 4-2 win over the Squires on April 24 — before suffering a setback Monday. The Eagles will be the No. 1 seed in the District 3 Class 4A playoffs and have a bye into the second round next week.