When the final District 5 baseball rankings were released and the field kept dwindling down, it seemed obvious that Southern Fulton and Meyersdale were on a crash course for a rematch.
For the third time in a row, Southern Fulton will take on the Raiders in the District 5 Class A championship, which will be played at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Everett. For the last two years, the Indians have earned a victory.
The game will pit the two best pitchers in District 5 against one another. Trent Rider will get the nod for SF (17-4), and Riley Christner is expected on the mound for Meyersdale (19-4).
"This game is going to be about the other eight in each teams' lineup," Indian coach Dustin Fischer said. "It's the two best pitchers facing off, so it's the other eight kids that can field the ball and hit the ball. We always say that if can get Trent three runs, we're going to win."
Despite the much-anticipated pitchers' duel, Rider and Christner have never actually faced each other. Older brother Connor Christner, who has graduated, started last year's championship, and by the time Riley came in to relieve, Rider had already been replaced by Connor Litton.
"Southern Fulton presents a big challenge with a Division I pitcher," Meyersdale coach Wayne Miller said. "Riley will have four days of rest, and so will (Rider). Runs will be at a premium; it will probably a 1-0, 2-1 or 3-2 game. We'll have to claw for anything we can get and move runners up."
Both coaches are expecting something similar to the last two championships. In 2014, SF eked out a 4-3 victory, and a year ago, the Indians needed eight innings to capture a 5-4 win.
While the pitching situation is clear, the offense for both teams remains questionable. Meyersdale has a team batting average of .322, with Christner (.467) and Max Caton (.407) leading the way. But the Raiders haven't faced as tough of a schedule as Southern Fulton has.
The Indians, on the other hand, are batting just .273 as a team but have started to come on strong lately. Carl Potter is SF's top hitter with an average of .407; Rider and Tanner Elbin have both driven in 15 runs this season.
"We know what we have to do, and we know what we have to execute," Fischer said. "In years past, we've had bigger wins, but then we'd get in close games and people would panic. This team is used to playing in tight games, and we're much more disciplined. We've worked on a lot of the small things."
Hopefully that'll pay off, because it could very well come down to a hit here or an error there with these two teams.
Indians-Raiders at a glance
Game data: Southern Fulton Indians vs. Meyersdale Raiders ... District 5 Class A championship ... At Everett Elementary School, 4:30 p.m.
Media: For live updates, follow @liziarbogast
Teams: Meyersdale (19-4) earned the No. 1 seed and beat Forbes Road 6-0 to reach the final ... SF (17-4) was seeded No. 2 and blanked Shanksville 2-0 in the semifinals.
Series: In the teams' last 6 meetings, the Indians have won 4, including each of the last 2 years in the district final.
P.O. pick: Southern Fulton by 1.