HERSHEY -- Already, the margin for error figured to be slim. That's what the 90-mile-per-hour fastballs that emerge from Twin Valley pitcher Jared Price's right arm tend to do: They make every one of his opponents' scoring chances that much more precious.

And when the Raiders grabbed an early, five-run lead in their District 3 Class AAA baseball semifinal against West York, an already-daunting task for the Bulldogs grew even more difficult.

Second-seeded West York did manage a few scoring opportunities against Price, during a 7-2 defeat at Hershey High School on Wednesday. But the 6-foot-2 right-hander, who has signed with Maryland, was overpowering when he needed to be, striking out 10 and working around some early control issues.

Price was able to do what few have this season -- muzzle a West York lineup that has been among the district's most potent. The Bulldogs (20-4) left eight runners on base Wednesday.

"We just didn't capitalize when we needed to," said West York coach Roger Czerwinski, whose team had averaged eight runs per game coming into Wednesday. "All year, we've been able to rely on getting it done. We just didn't do so."

Third-seeded Twin Valley (18-5) advanced to play ninth-seeded Lampeter-Strasburg (19-6) in the district championship game at 4 p.m. Thursday at York's Sovereign Bank Stadium.

As for the Bulldogs, they won't have much time to regroup. They'll play Northern York (18-6), the defending PIAA Class AAA champions, Thursday at 4 p.


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m. back at Hershey. The winner will earn the district's third-and-final qualifying spot for the state tournament.

"They know it's one-and-done from this point," Czerwinski said.

Price played a large role in that sentence, even if the he wasn't his usual, dominant self early. Price issued five walks during the first four innings -- including a pair of free passes to his first two batters -- and worked around six hits. His coach, Twin Valley's Matt Royer, said it was the most he's seen Price struggle with his control this season.

But Price made big pitches when he needed to.

And West York's offense didn't exactly help its own cause.

The Bulldogs sabotaged a bases-loaded opportunity in the first inning, when Brandon Rauhauser was picked off second to end the frame. In the fourth, a bases-loaded, one-out opening failed to produce any runs.

"You just got to get your foot down and try to hit the ball the other way or try to get in front of it," West York catcher Cole Bixler said of facing Price. Bixler was one of the few Bulldogs hitters who solved Price, going 2-for-3 with an RBI double in the second inning.

Meanwhile, Twin Valley's offense struck early against Bulldogs starter Brandon Kinneman. The Raiders scratched out an unearned run in the first and tacked on four more runs in the second, highlighted by designated hitter Travis Royer's solo home run. Shortstop Izzack Albright added another solo shot in the sixth inning, one of 12 Raiders hits.

"We have not been an offensive team," Raiders coach Matt Royer said. "I see their batting average, they're hitting .350-something. I don't know if we have anyone on our team hitting .350."

Kinneman improved, lasting 51/3 innings and striking out eight. Five of the seven runs he allowed were earned.

But against Price, the Bulldogs weren't able to cut into the lead. The hard-throwing righty retired eight of the last 10 batters he faced and didn't allow a walk after the fourth. It was the fourth time this season West York has been held to two runs or fewer.

One major consolation for the Bulldogs: They will have their own ace, senior Kaden Hepler, on the hill this afternoon.

"New day (Thursday)," Bixler said. "Just try to come out, get a win and move on."

@johnsclayton; 771-2045
  
At Hershey H.S.
TWIN VALLEY 7, WEST YORK 2
Twin Valley  141 001 0 -- 7 12 1
West York  020 000 0 -- 2 6 2

   TW, Jared Price and Kyle Trivits; WY, Brandon Kinneman, Joey Prego (6) and Cole Bixler. SO-BB -- TW, Price 10-5; WY, Kinneman 8-4, Prego 1-0. W -- Price. L -- Kinneman. 2B -- TV, Price; WY, Bixler, Brett Kinneman. HR -- TV, Travis Royer, Izzack Albright.