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PINE GROVE >> Minutes after Pottsville put an end to Spring Grove's baseball season, the Rockets' players and coaches huddled in the outfield of Walter Stump Stadium, arms around each other, reflecting on their 2015 season.

"I told these guys, 'Everybody, when you get to states, there's only one team that's gonna be happy when it's done,'" Spring Grove coach Kevin Stiffler said. "'I want you to look back and remember the memories this year.' We were so close to winning our first district title last week, that game could have gone either way. Tonight, we just ran into a buzzsaw on the mound. But I really feel like we've shown we can play with anybody."

The name of that buzzsaw is Eli Nabholz, the Pottsville senior who is committed to play baseball at Penn State next spring. He showed why he's Big Ten material by throwing a complete-game, no-hitter and striking out 13 batters in the Crimson Tide's 1-0 win in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA state playoffs. Spring Grove's only base runner came when Nabholz hit Cam Sterner in the back with a pitch in the sixth inning.

The Rockets wouldn't have faced Nabholz if their first-round game was played Monday, when it was postponed by rain, or Tuesday, when it was postponed again. Nabholz had just pitched in the District 11 championship game last Thursday.

"He threw a pretty good amount pitches that day and we just weren't gonna run him out here until he was ready," Pottsville coach Mike Welsh said. "We spoke (Tuesday) and he was ready to come back for (Wednesday)."

Even with Nabholz, one of three Pottsville players committed to Division I schools, on the mound, a Crimson Tide victory was in doubt right up to the final out. Spring Grove junior Matt Brooks, who has received Division I offers, threw a gem of his own by allowing just three hits in a complete game. Pottsville's only run came in the bottom of the sixth inning, when La Salle commit Connor Hinchcliffe hit a single up the middle to drive in Darian Jacoby from second base.

"I give a lot of credit to (Spring Grove)," Welsh said. "(Brooks) is a heck of a pitcher, kept us off-balance all night and was mixing well. He was pretty dominant himself, but we were able to scratch one across. My hat goes off to those guys. It's a heck of a program, a heck of a year for them."

That year included 18 wins, a YAIAA Division I title and a trip to the District 3 championship game. All with a team consisting of one senior, two juniors and one returning starter from last season.

"I'm proud of these guys. They've exceeded my expectations this year," Stiffler said. "We got further than I ever dreamed we would. These guys have a lot to be proud of. I'm proud to be their coach, I love these guys. I'm gonna miss (senior) Anthony Reed. He stepped us for huge this year. The guys really took to him. It's been a great group of kids to coach."

Pottsville 1, Spring Grove 0

Spring Grove0000000—001Pottsville000001-—130

SG, Matt Brooks and Derek Hoiles, P, Eli Nabholz and Connor Hinchcliffe

SO-BB — Brooks 5-2, Nabholz 13-0; W — Nabholz; L — Brooks.

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