With the regular season winding down, the York Junior American Legion Post 66 team defeated Lancaster 9-8, moving into first place in Region 5 and nailing down a home playoff game.
Coach Chris Stephenson said Post 66 will host the playoff opener at 7 p.m. Monday at the York Comprehensive High School baseball complex.
An opponent had yet to be determined for the best-of-three series.
Making an appearance in a relief role with two outs and runners in scoring position in the final inning, Trent Alexander struck out the Lancaster batter to end the game in dramatic fashion.
Stephenson lauded Alexander for his relief stint and starting hurler Ryan Gilbert for a strong mound performance.
Gilbert reached his limit on the number of pitches allowed and had to be replaced late in the game.
Prior to the win over Lancaster, Post 66 built an early lead against the Clover Post 38 Junior Legion team, then held on down the stretch for a 5-4 win.
Post 66 assumed a 1-0 lead in the first inning, highlighted by Harrison Childers’ RBI-single that sent teammate Caleb Clayton, who had reached base on a solid double to right-center field, across the plate.
After visiting Clover was held scoreless the first two innings, the Post 66 Junior Legion team had a productive bottom of the second frame.
Shannon Cobb got things started with a double, followed by Will McSwain’s timely single.
Later, with runners at first and third, Alexander delivered an RBI single. Dangerous hitting John Moorefield followed with an RBI single, staking Post 66 to a 3-0 lead in inning number two.
Moorefield reached second on the throw, leaving runners at second and third. Clayton’s grounder over second base created problems for the Clover infield, sending two runners across the plate and pushing York’s lead to 5-0.
It appeared the Post 66 juniors were in command, but the Clover contingent had other ideas.
Clover plated three runs in the fifth and added a run in the sixth inning, slicing York’s lead to a scant run at 5-4.
But Post 66 withstood Clover’s late-game rally as Gilbert halted a potential uprising in the final inning to secure the win.
Commenting after the game, Stephenson was a bit relieved after watching Post 38 cut into the lead.
“We went into the game planning to use a lot of pitchers,” he said. “We rotated a good many pitchers and it almost cost us. Clover fought back”
Stephenson pointed out that the York hitters weren’t as productive as they had been in previous games.
“We hit the ball well in one inning,” said Stephenson. “We’ll have to do better than that with the playoffs nearing.”
Stephenson wants York fans to know that playoff action begins Monday at the YCHS complex.
“We encourage area fans to come out and support the team in our home playoff game,” he said. “The kids have worked hard and have the potential to make a run in the playoffs.”
The best-of-three series begins with a game in York, followed by a game at the opponent’s field. The series finale would be played in York, if necessary.