By KIMBERLY RUTH
For the Daily Record/Sunday News
Updated: 08/15/2009 11:34:11 PM EDT
After struggling early in the season, it all came together in the end for Stoverstown as the Tigers strung together strong pitching, great defense and timely hitting to become Central League tournament champions.
Saturday afternoon, they shut the door on Mount Wolf, wrapping up the continuation of Game 1 in the morning, 5-4, before heading back to Stoverstown to top the Wolves, 9-3, in the afternoon in Game 2 to sweep the series.
That earned first-year manager Tim Thoman -- who took over for the legendary Curly Holtzapple -- not one, but two water-cooler showers.
"The first one was OK," Thoman laughed. "The second one wasn't so good."
The playoffs have been a whirlwind for the Tigers, who shut out Manchester in two games before knocking out regular-season champion Glen Rock in three games.
"It's been outstanding," Thoman said. "The momentum we took from the season and then the momentum we built up after playing Manchester and Glen Rock really carried us through these two games."
Stoverstown struggled early against Mount Wolf in the first game that began Thursday night.
Down 3-0, Stoverstown took advantage of walks, a wild pitch and a bloop single in the sixth inning to take a 4-3 lead that eventually turned into a 4-4 tie after the Wolves responded in the bottom of the sixth.
After hearing about the Game 1 tie, Stoverstown's Dusty Heigler -- who had already left for college in Virginia after the Glen Rock series -- decided to come back home for the finals.
A hot bat for the Tigers, Heigler came in as a pitch hitter Saturday morning in the top of the eighth inning after Mount Wolf's Kyle Cook hit Jake Hockensmith with a pitch to put a runner on base with one out.
Heigler laced an RBI double into center field, scoring Hockensmith from first base as the throw went to the right of the plate.
The Wolves had no response in the bottom of the eighth, as all three batters flyed out against Hockensmith.
"It's unfortunate they hit Jake, but it gave me the opportunity to come up with a runner on," said Heigler, who is 11-for-19 at the plate in the postseason. "I got two strikes and it just opened up the field. I wasn't trying to pull it and just shot the ball into left field."
The Wolves came out swinging in Game 2, scoring two runs against Tigers starter Chris Powl in the top of the first on a walk and an error by the typically air-tight Stoverstown defense.
Stoverstown's bats responded in the home half of the inning, getting to Mount Wolf starter Drew Rentzel.
Brandon Wolfe drove home Zach Schuler and Kyle Wildasin on a long single, and Hockensmith smoked an RBI single to right-centerfield to score Heigler.
Wolfe and Heigler both scored on a wild pitch by Rentzel, giving the Tigers a 5-2 lead as the pitcher unsuccessfully guarded the plate against both runners. He dropped the ball and took hard hits from Wolfe and Heigler.
Rentzel left the game after the collisions, and was replaced by K.C. Beshore, who worked the rest of the way for the Wolves.
Mount Wolf added a run in the third inning on a double by Andy Srebroski.
Stoverstown tacked on a sixth run in the fifth when Beshore hit Wolfe with the bases loaded to plate Schuler.
The home team added three more runs in the sixth inning against the Wolves, and Brett Harmon struck out two as he shut down the final four Mount Wolf batters.