Don't look now, but there's a District 3 baseball contender in Manchester Township.
Christian School of York has managed to fly under the radar. With a high school enrollment of just 34 males, according to the PIAA, it's one of the smallest schools in District 3. But the Crusaders sit atop the Class A throne with roughly two weeks to go before the district playoffs.
This is the same program that went 4-10 in 2012, didn't have a team in 2013, then went 1-9 in 2014. And now they're the best Class A team in the district?
"Before, we were kind of lackadaisical and we thought we could get away with not working hard," junior Ben Bills said. "But before the season, as captains we said we had a great chance of doing something special, so let's do it. Christian School of York isn't really known for sports other than girls' basketball, so we wanted to make a change. We wanted to see if we could bring home a banner."
A banner isn't out of the question, and a lot of that has to do with the man with the blueprint for the program's turnaround — manager Joe Cordora, who took over after the tumultuous 2014 season. Since his arrival, the Crusaders have gone 18-10, including a 10-1 start this season through May 9.
The lone loss was a fluky forfeit result after the Crusaders committed an infraction during a game against Lancaster County Christian, the No. 2 team in Class A. Bills, the Crusaders' top pitcher, threw four innings April 26 before the game was suspended. Bills came back out and pitched three innings when the game resumed Wednesday.
PIAA rules state that a pitcher must have two calendar days of rest if he throws at least four innings. The umpire at the game told CSY coaches that Bills could pitch because it was a continuation of the same game. The official was wrong, and the Crusaders were later handed a forfeit loss.
"It was a mistake on our part," Cordora said. "We went by his word but we should've gone with our gut and gone with the second pitcher we had warm for the next game. It's a hard lesson to learn, but we're moving on."
The 10-1 record may be a surprise to the general public, but not to the players in the locker room. Cordora said the Crusaders had two goals this season: to compete for the Commonwealth Christian Athletic Conference title and to go deep in districts.
"I expected a lot of improvement," he said. "Last year was my first year and we worked them really hard on the fundamentals. We started with that first. I would say we probably overachieved a little last season, but I had a feeling we could improve off last year with strong pitching and timely hitting."
That hasn't been an issue for the Crusaders this season. Their one-two punch of Bills and Anthony Torreullas is undefeated on the mound, and both are hitting above .600 at the plate.
"I've just been staying within myself really," Torreullas said. "I worked really hard in the offseason, and it's paying off. I try to hit singles and the extra-base hits come. I'm confident at the plate, not to the point that I get cocky, but just confident that I can hit against any pitcher. It helps a lot that my coaches and teammates have confidence in me as well. I've been playing freely and having a great time every time I'm on the field."
Torreullas, a senior, has been with the team through some tough stretches but said this is a new team, one that's more focused and confident.
"We have the mentality that we can take on anyone in the conference," he said. "With the way we've been playing, the only people who can beat us is us."