NEW BRIDGEVILLE — This summer may be the last hoorah for a lot of guys on the Hallam Express baseball club.
Sensing that, a number of the team's key veterans have played with an extra sense of urgency.
The latest case in point was third baseman Jason Seitz. The 37-year-old Eastern York High School grad stepped up in a big situation Thursday night when his team battled Conrads in a clash of top Susquehanna League outfits.
Hitless in his previous three plate appearances against Conrads starter Randy Stewart, the right-handed slugger laced a two-run single into right field in the top of the seventh. That hit put his team, which trailed 2-1 after five innings, ahead for good.
That clutch hit also made a winner of starter Shawn Hedrick, who fanned 11 batters and helped the Express claim an important 5-2 triumph.
First-place Hallam improved to 13-3, while Conrads dropped into a second-place tie with Jacobus at 12-6.
"We just keep going to the end," Seitz said. "The last two years we've been known for pulling off wins late."
For guys such as Hedrick, Seitz, Jon Benchich and a handful of others, this season may be the final time they put on a uniform. Seitz, who is playing in his 18th season in the league, already has outlasted his younger brother, Justin, and spoke openly about making the most of what could be his last opportunity for a title.
"This is a veteran-laden team, but we have some younger guys thrown in there," he said. "And I'm not knocking any other team out there, but we have the best pitching staff, hands down. And we're on a mission. We're trying to win it all again, just like we did last year, and that's why we come out here and play."
For much of the night, the Express struggled against Stewart, who is known for getting guys to hit into outs. The right-hander didn't strike out anyone, but was able to keep the ball down in the zone to induce ground balls to his infielders.
Stewart seemingly tired as the game wore on, however, and the visitors took advantage. After quickly getting the first two outs in the sixth, Hallam connected for two singles sandwiched around a walk that loaded the bases. Stewart got a ground ball to third off the bat of Dan Wecker, but the ball ate up third baseman Josh Knaub, who failed to record an out and the game was deadlocked at 2-2.
That trouble continued into the seventh. A walk and three back-to-back singles, the final one off the bat of Seitz, put the Express ahead 4-2. Hallam added another run when a runner scored on a suicide squeeze play easily, despite no bunt getting executed. The ball skipped to the backstop.
With Seitz at third and a runner on first, the Express tried a delayed steal. When the throw to second was made, Seitz broke for the plate but was gunned down by shortstop Travis Hake by a few feet.
The play ended with Seitz receiving a bloody nose, which was fitting for a veteran who is still giving his all whenever he's on the field.
"I'm good," he said. "Just a bloody nose, so I'm fine."
So too was Hedrick, who ran into a bit of trouble over the first few innings. After fanning the first two batters he faced, a walk to Hake and back-to-back singles put the home team up 1-0.
After Hallam (14-3) tied it up on a Wecker RBI single in the second, the home team took the lead in the third on a Hake RBI single.
With Stewart cruising through the third, fourth and fifth innings, things didn't look promising for Seitz and company. The veteran club, however, knows that a game isn't over until the final out is recorded and Seitz proved he still knows how to hit in the clutch.
"I came through," Seitz said. "I was trying to hit the ball out of the park all night, but he gave me something away and I went that way with it."
Benchich led a 10-hit attack with three hits, the only player with a multi-hit game. The York College grad doubled and singled twice in four at-bats.
OTHER SUSQUEHANNA LEAGUE GAMES
Felton 8, East Prospect 1: At East Prospect, Steve Ahlbrandt pitched a complete-game four-hitter to get the win. He struck out nine and walked five. He also had two hits and an RBI at the plate. Mark Shoff (two RBIs, two runs, hit), Corey Waltersdorff (two hits, two runs) and Devin Gohn (two hits, one RBI, one run) also excelled for Felton. Ryky Smith had two hits for East Prospect, while Ryan Saxman doubled and scored a run.
Jacobus 4, York Township 1: Daryl Harang held Township to a run on four hits with six strikeouts and one walk to earn the victory. Teammates Drew Kelly and Brian Hudish combined to go 5-for-5 at the plate. Jacobus snapped Township's five-game win streak.
CENTRAL LEAGUE GAMES
Glen Rock 7, Stoverstown 6: At Glen Rock, the home team broke a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the fifth by plating two runs and taking the lead for good. Dan Rhodes led the offense for the home team by going 2-for-2, including a two-run homer in the bottom of the second, and scored two runs. Also for Glen Rock, Scott Merkle went 2-for-3 with two runs scored. For Stoverstown, J.W. Besore had two doubles and two runs scored, Nick Spangler went 2-for-4 and Brandon Bishard went 2-for-2. Glen Rock improved to 11-6. Stoverstown fell to 9-9.
Manchester 7, Pleasureville 2: Jeremy Pagano held Pleasureville to a pair of runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and one walk to earn the win. At the plate, Manchester was led by Dan Royer (2-for-4, three RBIs, run scored) and Eric Barton (2-for-3, run scored). Manchester tallied the seven runs by scoring two in the third and five in the sixth. Eric Meisenhelder had a double for Pleasureville.
Jefferson 7, Shiloh 4: At Shiloh, the visitors trailed 4-1 entering the top of the fourth, when they plated five runs, highlighted by a three-run homer from Joe Trail, to help them take the lead and go on to the victory. Also for Jefferson, Zach Schuler went 2-for-2 with a solo homer, Scott Trail went 2-for-4 with a triple and relief pitcher Jonathan Kibler came on in the third to finish the game, striking out eight, walking two and picking up the win. For Shiloh, Jake Molison went 3-for-3, while Brock Gladfelter and Ryan Stough each went 2-for-3.
Mount Wolf 8, Dover 3: At Dover, Paul Rogerson led the visitors to the victory by pitching a shutout, striking out 12 and walking none. Devin Dellinger went 4-for-4, including a three-run homer in the seventh, and collected four RBIs, while Dan Dierdorff hit a two-run inside-the-park homer. First-place Mount Wolf improved to 15-3.
AMERICAN LEGION GAMES
Hanover 12, York 2: Hanover scored three runs in the first inning, one in the second and eight in the third to get the victory by the 10-run rule in a shortened 4 1/2 inning game. Kai Hess had the breakout night at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored and five RBIs, capped off with his three-run triple in the eight-run third.
Pleasureville 8, Dallastown 1: At Dallastown, the visitors plated four runs in the top of the first, highlighted by a three-run double from Walker Monteith, to give them the lead for good. Monteith had two doubles and four RBIs. Also for the winners, Tyler Wagner went 2-for-3 with a double, one run scored and two walks and Dan Sepic went 2-for-2 with two runs and one walk. Wagner picked up the win, going four innings with six strikeouts and two walks, while Monteith went the final three innings, striking out four and walking one. For Dallastown, relief pitcher Jon Snyder pitched five innings, allowing only one run. Pleasureville improved to 8-3-0.
Northeastern 6, Red Lion 3: At Manchester, starting Northeastern pitcher Brayton Bare threw six innings, striking out seven and walking none to pick up the victory. Steve Shimkus pitched the seventh, striking out three and walking one. At the plate for Northeastern, Shimkus went 2-for-4, including a double, while Jordan Zirkle went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Ryan Shindler went 1-for-2, with two stolen bases and one RBI. For Red Lion, Mike Godfrey hit a homer and collected two RBIs, while Alex Price went 2-for-3. Adam Whitman came on in relief of starter Brett Landis in the second and finished the game, striking out four and walking one.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.