GREENCASTLE, Pa.—Very few regular-season victories are as sweet as the one Greencastle-Antrim’s baseball team celebrated Tuesday.
Mid-Penn Colonial rival Northern York — the defending PIAA Class AAA state champion — paid a visit to Greencastle and left with its first loss of the season. Denton Cordell’s fielder’s choice scored Danny Stepler with the winning run in the sixth inning, and the Blue Devils defeated the Polar Bears, 3-2.
“This one was circled on the calendar, no doubt,” Greencastle coach Eric Shaner said. “We had an opportunity to beat the team that beat us three times (last year), won the conference, knocked us out of the playoffs and won the state championship. You don’t get those opportunities every day.”
The Blue Devils (3-1, 2-1) overcame two solo home runs by Northern catcher Jon Mayer, thanks to solid pitching by starter Josh Young and reliever Ryan Ricci, an RBI double by Ashtin Byers that got Greencastle’s offense started in the fourth inning, and aggressive base running that set up the winning run.
Through three innings, the left-handed Young and Polar Bears starter Justin Charles locked into a scoreless pitcher’s duel, with each allowing just two hits and a walk and facing two hitters over the minimum to that point.
Mayer put Northern ahead by pulling a 2-1 offering from Young over the fence to left to lead off the fourth inning.
Greencastle took a 2-1 lead in the bottom half, breaking through against Charles. Denver Cordell led off with an infield single deep in the hole at second. Byers then cranked a 1-1 pitch deep into the gap in left, scoring Cordell, who was running on the pitch. Byers took third on Adam Moore’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Stepler’s RBI bloop infield single.
“Ashtin has just been killing the ball,” Shaner said. “We had the steal called, it wasn’t a hit and run so I can’t look like a genius. But (Byers) isn’t up there to take pitches. When one is in there, I want him hacking at it.”
Young worked into the sixth, striking out the leadoff hitter. Shaner chose to pull Young — who was at 80 pitches — for Ricci with Mayer coming up, and Mayer drove the 1-1 pitch well beyond the fence in dead center to tie the game.
“He’s a monster,” Shaner said of Mayer. “Young didn’t do anything wrong, he was just starting to get the ball up a little. Ricci doesn’t sweat. He just left one up, but I knew it wouldn’t rattle him. He’s not bothered by the big spot, he just gets better.”
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Stepler drew a six-pitch walk. He stole second and third, and Denton Cordell followed with a slow roller to second. The throw home was high and Stepler — who broke for home on contact after getting a huge lead off of third base — slid home safely.
“We knew (Mayer) is great. He’s outstanding,” Shaner said. “(Charles) has a high leg kick and we wanted to take advantage of that. Athleticism is one of our strengths.”
After surrendering Mayer’s second home run, Ricci retired the last five hitters he faced for the win.
Greencastle-Antrim 3, Northern York 2
Northern 000 101 0 — 2 4 0
Greencastle 000 201 x — 3 6 1
Charles and Mayer. Young, Ricci (6) and Moore. WP — Ricci. LP — Charles. HR — NY: Mayer 2 (4th, none on; 6th, none on).