Rockets' 113-pounder seeks encore after state semifinals appearance last year. (Teddy Feinberg/GameTimePA.com)
Brady Pitzer wanted payback.
The Spring Grove freshman had been waiting to face Dallastown's John Ligon for a year after being pinned by him last season in middle school. On Tuesday, the 132-pounder got to take on his rival again, this time in a varsity match with a division title on the line.
With the Rockets trailing by two halfway through a home dual meet against the Wildcats, Pitzer put Ligon on his back for a second period pin that helped Spring Grove eventually win, 40-24. The victory helped the Rockets claim at least a share of the Division I title for the ninth straight season.
"I was just trying to get a win, a pin would have been a bonus," Pitzer said. "I knew that if I squeezed hard enough I would get it. It feels awesome."
Pitzer's win gave Spring Grove the lead and started a streak of five straight wins that clinched the match for the Rockets. While multiple Rockets produced pins or tech falls, the fall by Pitzer evoked the loudest reaction from the home crowd.
Spring Grove head coach Tony Miller said he was most impressed the freshman 132-pounder wasn't overwhelmed by the moment.
"We knew it would be a tight match, and for him to do his thing, I'm happy for him," Miller said. "He's only in ninth grade so we're trying to help him along, and we get a packed house and he's thinking the league (title) is on the line. You never know how he's going to react but he showed up tonight."
Another marquee bout was the final one of the night at 182, where Spring Grove's Jared Barley beat Dallastown's Drake Pew, 9-6. While Pew injured his knee midway through the second period, he battled through the pain and finished the match
Dallastown head coach Rob Jansen said he asked Pew if he wanted to come out, but the senior said he was okay to continue. Pew, who entered the match ranked third in District 3 Class 3A at his normal weight of 170, was tended to by trainers afterward.
"He hurt his knee pretty badly so I don't how that's going to be for the next few weeks now," Jansen said. "You've got a kid who's tough. When I went out there the first time, he was like, 'No, I just kind of tweaked it.'"
Dallastown opened the match strong with three straight wins from Cameron Green (195), Bryce Shields (220) and Will Anderson (285) but weren't able to overcome Spring Grove's strength in the middle of the lineup. The Rockets won nine of the 14 bouts, with Pitzer, Dalton Rohrbaugh (113) and Clay Baker (120) earning pins.
Spring Grove can win Division I outright by beating New Oxford at home on Thursday. The Rockets remain the only undefeated team in the division.
"It's another league match, so the mindset is we've got to come back and get to work," Miller said. "You don't want to slip at the end. New Oxford is going to come after us, I think they match up well with us and it's going to be a great match."