Article by Eric Epler, The Patriot-News/Photograph by Sam Getty
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YORK – Forget the imperfect defense, the shoddy baserunning and generally reckless behavior throughout. None of it altered the picture-perfect moment Joey Bishop fell to his knees in celebration.
Two weeks ago, Mechanicsburg initiated a plan to rip through this District 3-AAA postseason and claim the school’s first baseball championship. And Bishop, the junior right-hander seeing his first action since suffering a serious head injury on April 18th, helped deliver that nugget Thursday at Sovereign Bank Park.
The fourth-seeded Wildcats, behind 13 hits and a whole heap of moxie, scored six runs in the top of the eighth inning to dispatch Berks County hopeful Twin Valley 14-8. The troubled Raiders suffered four errors in the wild extra frame, nine errors in all, as Bishop claimed victory over 4Ò innings of relief.
“This feels amazing. You can’t even explain it in words,” said Mechanicsburg catcher Jimmy Spanos, who went 2-for-5 with three runs batted in.
Spanos, who helped turn away Twin Valley’s early lead with a two-run double in the fourth, Matt Miller (2-for-4) and Alex Holbert (2-for-5) steered the top-half of the order.
The Wildcats (18-5) will meet District 12 runner-up Franklin Towne Charter in Monday’s PIAA Class AAA opening round.
“First one in school history. It’s huge for us,” Spanos said. “Everyone played well but it was a rough game, up and down. At the end, we just plugged in a few hits and Joey made some great pitches.”
Trailing 8-5 in the sixth, the Cats’ comeback bid coincided with the Raiders’ collapse defensively. Miller’s single came between two Twin Valley errors, the last scoring Andy Williams. After Holbert’s fielder’s choice and Brock Athey’s sacrifice fly, Mechanicsburg pulled even.
About the same time, Bishop, relieving starter Sal Purpura in the fourth, started to settle in.
“I was nervous, being a championship game,” said Bishop, who struck out four and allowed a single earned run. “Jimmy kind of calmed me down a told me to relax and I did. I wouldn’t want any different team behind me. It was amazing.”
After Bishop stranded a pair of runners in the last of the seventh, Twin Valley reliever Jeremy Rahn wouldn’t finish the top half of the eighth. His defensive playmates took care of that.
Via two quick errors and walk to Miller, Holbert’s RBI fielder’s choice turned into a pair of runs when Raiders’ shortstop Izzack Albright was flagged for interfering with Miller between second and third.
Two batters later, a William Reardon bobble on Joe Hennessy’s shot to second posted both Holbert and Justin Tate. Deveney’s sac fly and Ryan Greene’s RBI single finished the damage. An amped Bishop shot down Twin Valley 1-2-3 in the bottom half.
“It’s just a shame that you’ve got to throw in a clunker when you get to this point. I feel sick for them,” Twin Valley skipper Matt Royer said.
“It was ugly. The incredible thing is there was still a chance to win up until that last inning. I can’t beat my kids up because it takes a lot to get here.”
Greene, Athey and Tate all chipped in two hits for the Wildcats, making its first championship appearance since 1999. All nine runs charged to Rahn, in relief of Twin Valley (23-4) starter Matt McInaw, were unearned.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game, obviously, but I honestly think we have a tough bunch of kids that overcame some adversity,” Mechanicsburg coach Clay McAllister said.
“We’ve got great senior leaders, good juniors and a ton of energy. They love to play for each other and that’s what it’s all about.”
D3-AAA Baseball: Mechanicsburg wins district title in extras
Article by Travis Pickens, The Sentinel
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YORK – The first two pitches Joey Bishop threw in 45 days weren’t very memorable.
The first one was out of the strike zone, and Brandin Snyder laced the second one to the gap in left-center for a two-run single.
The hit handed Twin Valley a 7-5 lead in the fourth inning of the District 3 Class AAA championship game Thursday evening at Sovereign Bank Stadium in York.
“After that, the credit has to go to (catcher) Jimmy (Spanos),” said Bishop, who came on in relief of starter Sal Purpura with two runners on and two outs. “He calmed me down, told me to relax, and I did.”
The next batter, Ryan Plank, flew out to center and, from there, Bishop found his form.
The junior right-hander, who was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Lower Dauphin’s Chad Baker on April 18 and hadn’t appeared in a game since, went the final 4 1/3 innings and allowed one run on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
“He came in and everyone knew he was nervous,” Spanos said. “From (the fifth inning) on, I felt he was pretty dominant.”
Twin Valley, meanwhile, couldn’t get out of its own way. The second-seeded Raiders (23-4) committed nine errors – four in the eighth inning alone – and blew a three-run, sixth-inning lead in falling to the Wildcats, 14-8, in eight innings.
The win gave fourth-seeded Mechanicsburg its first district baseball title.
“I told these guys down here, I’ve got so much emotion going through my mind right now,” Mechanicsburg coach Clay McAllister said. “I inherited a really proud program. I was here in 1999 when that team lost the district championship to Chambersburg. It’s been a long time coming for this program.”
Mechanicsburg, which will meet District 12 runner-up Franklin Towne Charter (5-15) on Monday in the PIAA Class AAA first round at a District 3 site, had six players with two hits but never led at the conclusion of one full inning until the game was over.
In the fateful eighth, Mechanicsburg (18-5) scored six runs on two hits.
Losing pitcher Jeremy Rahn was charged with nine runs, not one of which was earned.
“It was ugly,” Twin Valley coach Matt Royer said. “It’s just a shame that you have to throw in a clunker there when you get to this point. … I feel sick for (the players).
“I can’t beat my kids up, but at the same time, that was just awful.”
In the sixth, Mechanicsburg rallied from an 8-5 hole with three unearned runs thanks to a pair of Twin Valley errors.
The inning started badly for the Raiders when Rahn fielded a ground ball by Andy Williams and lobbed it over first baseman Paul LePage’s head.
“That’s my favorite play in baseball,” Royer said of a soft ground ball to the pitcher. “Every time that happens, I say, ‘That’s my favorite play’ because it’s an automatic out. We had two (of those plays), and we got nobody.”
Two batters later, Williams scored on another error, and Matt Miller came home on a ground-out to make it 8-7. Brock Athey’s sacrifice fly brought home courtesy runner Andrew Spanos to pull the Wildcats even.
“You have to find ways to win,” McAllister said. “I told them, there’s a lot of teams that would have shut it down in the sixth inning, but we didn’t.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game, but I think we have a tough bunch of kids that overcame some adversity.”
At the start of the game, Twin Valley went on top against Purpura almost immediately.
The senior walked in two runs in the first and gave up back-to-back RBI triples to Albright and Price in the second.
At that point, it was 4-1.
Mechanicsburg clawed back in the third when Miller walked and Alex Holbert, Justin Tate and Athey strung three singles together to make it a 4-3 game.
Then, in the fourth, a two-run double to left from Jimmy Spanos gave the Wildcats a 5-4 lead.
The teams combined for 22 runs on 23 hits and 11 errors. Five batters were plunked in a game that lasted 2 hours and 58 minutes.
“It was a rough game, up and down, but we tried to stay even-keeled,” Spanos said. “At the end, we just got a few hits, and they made a few errors that helped us.”
WILDCATS 14, RAIDERS 8 (8)
Mechanicsburg 012 203 06 – 14 13 3
Twin Valley 220 310 00 – 8 10 9
Andy Williams, rf, 6/2/0; Matt Miller, 2b, 2/4/2; Jimmy Spanos, c, 5/0/2; Alex Holbert, cf, 5/2/2; Justin Tate, ss, 5/1/2; Brock Athey, 3b, 3/2/2; Joe Hennessy, dh, 5/1/0; Sal Purpura, p, 0/0/0; Joey Bishop, p, 0/0/0; Jeff Deveney, 1b, 3/0/1; Ryan Greene, lf, 4/1/2. TOTALS: 38/14/13.
Will Reardon, 2b, 4/2/1; Izzack Albright, ss, 4/2/3; Jared Price, 3b-lf, 4/1/2; Jeremy Rahn, lf-p, 3/0/0; Greg Gaydos, cr, 0/1/0; Matthew McInaw, p-3b, 2/0/0; Brandin Snyder, rf, 5/0/2; Ryan Plank, dh-p, 5/0/0; Paul LePage, 1b, 0/0/0; Kyle Trivits, c, 4/2/2; Jon Abbadusky, cf, 3/0/0. TOTALS: 34/8/10.
Doubles: M – J. Spanos. TV – Snyder. Triples: TV – Albright, Price. RBI: M – J. Spanos 3, Holbert 2, Tate, Athey, Deveney 2, Greene. TV – Albright 2, Price, Rahn, McInaw 2, Snyder 2. Mechanicsburg pitching:Purpura 3 2/3+ inn., 7 runs, 7 earned, 5 hits, 4 SO, 6 BB; Bishop (W) 4 1/3 inn., 1 run, 1 earned, 5 hits, 4 SO, 0 BB. Twin Valley pitching: McInaw 3 2/3+ inn., 5 runs, 5 earned, 7 hits, 2 SO, 2 BB; Rahn (L) 4 inn., 9 runs, 0 earned, 6 hits, 1 SO, 1 BB; Plank 1/3 inn., 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 SO, 0 BB.
Errors cost Twin Valley 3-AAA Title
Article by Rich Scarcella, The Reading Eagle
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YORK – The District 3 Class AAA championship game Thursday at Sovereign Bank Stadium seemed to have a ’60s theme.
While Joey Bishop and Andy Williams played for Mechanicsburg, Twin Valley played like the hapless 1962 New York Mets.
The Raiders committed eight errors, threw four wild pitches and made countless other gaffes, leading to a brutal 14-8 loss to the Wildcats.
Mechanicsburg broke an 8-8 tie in the eighth by scoring six unearned runs on two hits, three errors, a walk and a hit batsman.
“Abner Doubleday is rolling, is spinning in his grave right now,” Twin Valley coach Matt Royer said, “because this is not the way baseball was meant to be played.”
The fourth-seeded Wildcats (17-5) won their first district title and will play the District 12 runner-up Monday in the first round of the PIAA Tournament. The second-seeded Raiders (23-4) will face the District 12 champion.
That was the furthest thing on Royer’s mind after he watched his team blow leads of 4-1 and 8-5 while botching routine plays.
“In my 30 years (of coaching), that’s the worst (performance by one of his teams),” he said. “I’ve lost hundreds of games. I feel sick for them because of all of the special things they did to get to this stage.
“We had the opportunity to win, which was hard to believe. It was ugly.”
After Mechanicsburg scored three unearned runs in the sixth to tie it 8-8, Brandin Snyder’s double off the left field wall put runners on second and third with one out for the Raiders and they didn’t score.
In the bottom of the seventh, Billy Reardon and Izzack Albright singled with one out and were stranded.
Those missed chances came back to haunt Twin Valley in the eighth when the Raiders booted three ground balls, which fueled the implosion.
“If we wouldn’t have made that many mistakes, that game was ours,” Jeremy Rahn said. “If we had played the way we normally play, execute without making many mistakes, it would have been a completely different game.”
Mechanicsburg was only slightly better. Two runners were picked off second base and another overslid the bag and was tagged out. Starter Sal Purpura walked six, hit two batters and allowed seven runs in his 32/3 innings.
Bishop entered and steadied the Wildcats, allowing just one run and walking none the rest of the way. He was making his first appearance since April 18 when he was hit in the head with a line drive.
The strangest inning might have been the Mechanicsburg sixth when the Raiders failed to record an out when two straight batters hit back to the pitcher. Rahn overthrew first baseman Paul LePage and then got the ball stuck in the webbing of his glove.
“That was the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to me,” Rahn said. “It got wedged in. I reached in (his glove), tried to pull it out and I couldn’t.”
The Raiders didn’t look like a team that was playing its 23rd playoff game in the last three seasons. They looked overwhelmed at times.
“It’s a shame when you throw in a clunker when you get to this point,” Royer said. “I kept telling them the pressure was off. This is a fun day. … I don’t know what happened.”