The UNC-Charlotte commit talks about how he puts hitters away. He struck out eight batters against West York. Zach Miller - GameTimePA.com
Matt Brooks and Derek Hoiles sat on buckets in the Spring Grove dugout, grinning and popping sunflower seeds into their mouths.
The senior pitcher and sophomore catcher got the rare opportunity to watch from sidelines as their teammates finished off a 9-2 win against West York on a chilly Tuesday afternoon.
Although Spring Grove won the YAIAA Division I title and made a run to the state tournament last season, that success came with many nail-biting wins, and fewer blowouts that allowed the coaches to empty the benches for a couple innings.
“I enjoy it," Brooks said of the break. "Usually when I do (get to watch from the bench), we have a lead. I just chill out a little bit and chew some seeds. When Derek’s in there with me, we talk about the game.”
Added Hoiles: “It’s happy mood. We just kind of sit around and have some fun, but at the same time we still have our heads in the game in case anything happens.”
The battery-mates earned their break by combining for five hits — four for extra bases — and six RBIs in the middle of the Rockets' batting order. Brooks went 3-for-3 with three doubles and a triple, while Hoiles went 2-for-3 with a double and four RBIs.
“It was good to see," Spring Grove coach Kevin Stiffler said. "I told the kids coming into the season that we wanted to score more runs this year. Last year we had to play a lot of small ball. We felt, now that a lot of these kids have seen a full year of varsity pitching, we could square more balls up and score more.”
West York certainly helped Spring Grove out, making five errors in the infield to create opportunities for the Rockets. Spring Grove broke the game open with five runs in the fourth inning. With no runners on and two outs, the Bulldogs couldn't make a play on a hard grounder between first and second base, then committed an error on the following play. That brought Brooks to the plate, followed by Hoiles, for a rally that put the game out of reach.
“We need to clean it up," West York coach Scott Erickson said. "It’s not West York baseball to have five errors and only three hits. We also made five errors in our first game. It doesn’t matter how many hits you have, you’re probably not gonna win with five errors.”
Spring Grove third baseman Caleb Ruth and backup catcher Connor Reed also roped doubles in the victory, helping the Rockets get some revenge after two losses to the Bulldogs last year. Brooks struck out eight batters and walked none in five innings pitched.
“It’s still West York," Brooks said. "The years before that, too, West York’s always been tough. They have a great coaching staff and great kids.”