HANOVER -- Spring Grove manager Matt Spangler has been waiting all season for a complete performance from his American Legion team.
He just didn't think it would take until an elimination game in the York-Adams Tournament for his team to accomplish it.
Spangler's club allowed a couple of chances to get away early, yet still managed to maul South Western's pitching as the game wore on. The visitors bundled 15 hits, while pitcher Dalton Hoiles held the home team in check with six scoreless frames of two-hit ball.
The result was an emphatic 12-0 thrashing of a South Western club that defeated Spring Grove in the regular season. The visitors will now travel to New Oxford at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday night, with the winner advancing to the tournament final against Hanover on Wednesday. New Oxford beat Hanover on Monday, 9-7. All three remaining teams now have one loss in the double-elimination event.
"It's been a while since we ended a game with 15 hits," Spangler said. "All of our losses have been close, within one run, and we just haven't hit the baseball consistently up-and-down the lineup. Here in the playoffs we're starting to catch our groove."
Spring Grove's hitting barrage coincided with the excellent performance of Hoiles on the mound. The right-hander gave up the only two hits he allowed in the sixth inning, when he escaped a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout.
Hoiles' performance (four walks, nine strikeouts) was hardly a surprise to Spangler, who knows that pitching is probably his team's best asset.
"We're deep in pitching," Spangler said. "Dalton comes out and throws a great game today. And we got Levi (Krause) going (Tuesday)."
Spring Grove squandered a bases-loaded opportunity with one out in the top of the first against South Western starter Chris Mills. A botched suicide squeeze and a come-backer to Mills prevented the visitors from getting on board early.
Ultimately that proved to be of no consequence. Spring Grove exploded for four runs in the third, two more in the fourth and fifth, one in the sixth and three more in the seventh.
Will Maughlin, Nick Spangler and Hoiles led the hitting barrage with three hits apiece. Devin Fisher and Austin Hunt each collected two hits off the bench. Colby Murphy drove in three runs, while Hoiles, who rapped a pair of doubles, and Brandon Warner each tallied two RBIs in the victory.
Bishop Elder and Kyle Raubenstine were the lone South Western players to get hits.
Now Spring Grove will try to oust New Oxford, which won the regular-season title, in another elimination game.
"They have great pitching," Mike Spangler. "We're going to have to go up and play a game. We lost to them in the regular season, 5-3, and, again, we didn't hit the ball that well. So we'll see."
OTHER LEGION GAME
NEW OXFORD 9, HAN OVER 7: At Hanover, the regular-season champions stay alive with a slugfest victory.
Both teams collected double digits in hits. Darren Majczuk tripled for the winners, while Jake Toal, Corbin Czap and Kenny Horney doubled. Todd Cook homered for Hanover, while Ryan Kehr and Jacob Crawmer doubled. Justin Duble got the win in relief, while Anthony Lippy picked up the save.
-- Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.