Here are some of the top local players taking the field in 2017. (Teddy Feinberg/GameTimePA.com)
A team win was exactly what Red Lion needed Monday night against rival Dallastown.
The Lions got a strong starting pitching performance from Tyler Stabley, a key outing out of the bullpen from Cameron Czerwinski and clutch base hits from Cole Delp and Denny Dennison to knock off the Wildcats, 5-3, at Horn Field.
The victory moved the Lions to 6-1 on the season while the Wildcats are now 3-4.
In classic Dallastown vs. Red Lion fashion, however, this one was a nail-biter, no matter the records.
"Were were 5-1 going into today and we were sixth in the district power rankings. Every game is important," Red Lion head coach Kevin Lawrence pointed out. "It's more important to (the players) because they go to the same ice cream places and pizza shops as the guys in the other uniform."
With the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Delp hit a bomb to right-center field that was ruled a ground-rule double. Two batters later, Dennison hit a rocket to left-center field that easily scored pinch-runner Ben Kitzmiller.
Dallastown then had trouble getting the relay throw in and there was no stopping the hard-charging Dennison, who rounded third and slid across home plate to give the Lions a two-run advantage.
Czerwinski, who wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam the inning before, shut the door in the seventh and final frame by fanning the final batter of the evening.
Those were the late-inning fireworks in a game that pitted two starting pitchers that had their competitive juices flowing right from the start.
The left-handed Stabley didn't give Dallastown much to hit for the majority of the afternoon. He pitched into the sixth inning surrendering just one run on two hits and zero walks until the Wildcats chipped away at their 3-1 deficit.
A potential double-play gone wrong for Red Lion put Wildcat runners at the corners and Bryant Holtzapple ripped an RBI single to center, making it a one-run ballgame.
The Wildcats then loaded the bases, and Lawrence summoned Czerwinski from the bullpen with two outs. The sophomore walked Michael Carr to tie the score 3-3, but then got a groundout to escape the jam.
That set the stage for Delp and Dennison to deliver in the bottom-half of the stanza.
Czerwinski said it was the third time this season he's come in during a bases-loaded situation and the third time he's found a way to get out of trouble.
"I'm used to it, I guess," he said. "My defense backs me up and I throw strikes."
While Stabley was effective and Czerwinski came through in crunch time, the Lions didn't even unveil 6-foot-5 right-hander Tyler Burchett out of the bullpen.
"We have a lot of depth. A lot," Lawrence said of the pitching rotation. "On the mound, with the new pitch-count rules, that's necessary."
The Wildcats got a solid starting pitching performance as well from diminutive right-hander Jake Gates.
While Red Lion scored two runs in the first and another in the second, Gates proved to be tough for the duration of the contest, exiting in the sixth inning after Delp's double.
"I thought he battled and kept us in the game all night," Dallastown coach Greg Kinneman wrote in a text message. "We just simply didn't make enough plays behind him and, on top of that, didn't swing it well."
Kinneman would continue: "We have to learn how to compete and win games. Right now, we just are not doing that. Red Lion did all of those things better than us tonight — congrats to them."