After downing No. 4 Lancaster Catholic, 9-6, and then No. 5 Oley Valley, 7-1, the Greencastle-Antrim baseball team finds itself with a chance to cut down defending state champion West York in a District 3 Class AAA semifinal game Tuesday, starting at 6 p.m. from North York High School.
"They're the defending state champs," Blue Devil coach Eric Shaner said. "They know how to win. The big thing is for us to stay the course we've been on, take care of ourselves and if we keep playing like we have, we'll be fine."
The Blue Devils have caught fire at the right time and epitomized a Class AAA tournament that's been full of upsets. Only No. 3 Littlestown - which will play No. 7 Lampeter-Strasburg - remains of the top six seeds. G-A has now matched its longest winning streak of the season by prevailing in its last three games.
Shaner's team has always looked to be aggressive on offensive and particularly on the base paths, but the Blue Devils went ice cold at the plate during times this season. The team was on the wrong side of no-hitters twice. In district play, however, G-A has out-hit its opponents 19-9.
All eyes will be on the Blue Devil pitching Tuesday.
"We need to pitch well," Shaner said. "We have to stay out of the big inning, which ties along with good pitching and defense."
"This is the point of the season where you're playing teams as good as you and whoever blinks first is in trouble, so we need to not blink.
Shaner has tentatively penciled in junior right-hander Ryan Ricci as his starting pitcher. Ricci saved No. 13 Greencastle's season in the first round by entering in relief and surrendering only one earned run as the team erased a four-run first inning deficit to beat Crusaders.
Freshman Myles Gayman will also be eligible to pitch. He took the win in the quarterfinals, allowing just three hits while punching out five and walking none.
The No. 8 Bulldogs will be the higher seed for the third time on Tuesday. Ace pitcher Joe Prego eliminated Shippensburg, 5-3, and will be available. Despite earning the victory, Prego did allow 11 hits, something he can ill afford to repeat against the Blue Devils.
A key for G-A will be the availability of third baseman Holden Baker. Baker received stitches after a ball struck him in the face during a fielding play against Oley.
Shaner said, "He's been practicing, he's just sore and swollen."
Thomas Bowers could slot in at the hot corner if Baker isn't a go.
After a season of inconsistency that was just narrowly good enough to qualify them for districts, the Blue Devils will look to use the underdog role once again Tuesday to extend an already unlikely run of upsets.
"We don't want to wait back," Shaner said. "We want to take the game ourselves."
Jeff Kolb can be reached at 262-4819 or firstname.lastname@example.org
District 3-AAA semifinal
Game data: Greencastle-Antrim vs. West York, Tuesday at Northern York High School, 6
Teams: No. 13 Greencastle (13-7) beat No. 5 Oley Valley last round, 7-1 ... No. 8 West York (16-7) eliminated No. 16 Shippensburg, 5-3.
Notes: The Blue Devils have upset the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, while West York will be the higher seed for its third consecutive game (beat No. 9 and 16 seeds).
Probable starter: Greencastle-Antrim: Ryan Ricci (4-1)
P.O. pick: Blue Devils, 6-4