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Lane Nye kept his thinking simple.

He stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning on a chilly, overcast Thursday at York Suburban High School. Littlestown trailed in its YAIAA Division III baseball game, and Nye told himself he just needed a hit. Until that inning, Trojans pitcher Thomas Merkle baffled Thunderbolts batters.

"I knew if I came through with this, my team would really look up to me," said Nye, a senior No. 6 hitter who already had a clutch hit earlier this week.

Nye waited for a fastball. Once he got one, he drove it to right field to clear the bases and send Littlestown on its way to a 4-3 comeback victory.

Just two days earlier against Gettysburg, Nye led off the seventh inning with a single that ultimately prevented the Bolts' first loss. Although that matchup still needs to be resumed in extra innings, Littlestown (6-0, 5-0) is unbeaten and atop Division III by walking a tightrope this week.

"We just try to feed off each other's energy," said Nye, who drove in three runs on the go-ahead hit. "When we're batting, the dugout definitely picks it up a lot."

York Suburban coach Chris Rotolo noticed that noise picked up in the fifth and sixth innings.

For the first four, Merkle kept them quiet.

The slender 6-foot right-hander struck out seven of the first nine hitters he faced. He finished with 11 strikeouts with four perfect innings to start the game. Twenty-seven of Merkle's first 35 pitches went for strikes. He sat down the side for both the second and third innings, getting an even number of third strikes on swings and looks back to the umpire from Littlestown hitters.

"He fooled a bunch of us," said Littlestown starter Chase DiPietro, who also hung in for a complete game. "It was breaking real far inside. It was a hard pitch to hit, even when we knew it was coming."

The Trojans built a 3-0 lead, starting with RBI hits from sophomore catcher Collin Slenker and Merkle in the first two innings. It seemed as if Suburban (4-2, 3-1), which had just four wins last season, was about to eclipse that mark.

"Every year we see a tough team from them," Littlestown coach Todd Gantz said. "Even when they're struggling, record-wise, they find a way to beat us. They make good approaches. If you watch in BP (batting practice), they do everything right."

Rotolo, who played with Gantz at York College, thought his team's performance "was a good response" to its 11-10 loss Wednesday against Dover. Since a March 27 win against last year's division champion, Susquehannock, Rotolo has noticed opponents using their ace pitchers against his squad.

"When we did well against Susky, I told the kids you just made the rest of the year harder," said Rotolo, who welcomed the challenge.

Despite the loss, Suburban outhit Littlestown, 10-4, and got half of those hits from its fourth and fifth hitters. Brendon Delridge finished 2-for-4 in the cleanup spot, while Slenker batted 3-for-3 with two RBIs.

"They have a lot of new faces, but they always come to play," said DiPietro, who slowly settled in on the mound and trusted his fielders.

Of course, with a game like this, he could not easily escape the final inning. With the tying run at second and just one out, DiPietro earned a full-count strikeout before forcing the final batter to hit right back to him.

The easiest play of the day for DiPietro, he jogged halfway to first base before tossing to his first baseman.

Contact Matt Goul at 771-2045.

Littlestown 4, York Suburban 3

Littlestown0000040—440York Suburban1100100—3101

Littlestown, Chase DiPietro and Travis Henrie. York Suburban, Thomas Merkle and Collin Slenker.

SO-BB — Lt, DiPietro 1-4. YS, Merkle 11-3; W — Dipietro; L — Merkle; 2B — Lt, Lane Nye. YS, Brad Smith, Collin Slenker, Nick Miller.

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