If there ever was a time to put together all aspects of the game, Monday night in front of a huge crowd at Red Lion's Horn Field was it.
And with first place in Division I of the YAIAA on the line, Spring Grove produced what coach Eric Zeigler called "a great team win tonight."
Pitching? Nick Spangler tossed a three-hit shutout, walking just two with five strikeouts. Fielding? The Rockets grabbed nearly everything in sight in support of Spangler. Hitting? Pounding out nine hits was one thing, but two-out rallies showed how clutch the bats were.
With six of seven runs coming with two outs, Spring Grove went on to capture the Division I regular-season title behind its 7-0 victory against the Lions.
The Rockets improved to 10-3 in the league, 13-6 overall and will head to this week's YAIAA tournament as the Division I representative. Red Lion awaits its district seeding news after falling to 9-4, 10-5.
"Nick's effort on the mound was absolutely tremendous. To give up only three hits in a big game like this," Zeigler said. "I felt the kids had focus from the first pitch to the last. Nick knows how to pitch. He made some big pitches in key situations. We never allowed a base runner to go to third base tonight."
"One thing he did was limited free bases, that is a big part," Lions coach Darren Hake said of Spangler. "But also, he mixed his pitches real well. He threw a heck of a game, a heck of a game. I am very impressed."
Brandon Warner singled in the first inning and scored on an error with two outs. Spangler helped himself in the second. After Dalton Hoiles and Jon Gross reached on errors, Spangler roped a two-out single that drove in both, giving the Rockets a 3-0 lead.
But it wasn't just Spring Grove's offense taking advantage of Lion gaffes, either. After Will Maughlin drew a two-out walk in the third, Hoiles followed by drilling a long triple to left field.
"I swung at the first two pitches and fouled them off. I had to level off, I thought," said Hoiles, who reached base all four trips to the plate. "He threw three straight balls and I knew the fastball was coming. I kept my shoulders level and tried to do something with it with a runner on base and got a triple out of it."
It was the fifth inning that pleased Zeigler the most: The Rockets drilled four straight hits after the first two batters were retired. Trevor Troxel and Maughlin got the first two singles, followed by run-producing singles by Hoiles and Gross.
"We had so many contributions from up and down the order. I am so proud from the way they battled to score six of their seven runs with two outs," the coach said. "We dug deep today, and the kids did what they had to do."
Certainly, Spangler liked the run support, although with his command he had all the runs he needed in the first inning.
"Coming in, we knew we had to win. During pregame warm-ups my arm felt pretty good," Spangler said. "I pitched Wednesday against Dallastown and wasn't sure I would be able to go tonight. But I did and still felt confident with everything I had, and it showed.
"They beat us the first time, so there was a little revenge factor for us. You have to keep them off balance. Once they get one or two hits going they can get on a roll real quick."
Such a performance has been a trend of late for the Rockets.
"We had our backs pinned against the wall for three league games in a row with Dallastown, South Western and these guys. Over the last 21 innings our pitching staff only gave up three runs," Zeigler said.
Starter Scott Rissler was tagged with the loss for Red Lion. Rissler also had one of the Lions' hits. Hake said he knows his young squad has come a long way this season.
"Heading into the season we had one individual with a lot of varsity experience. I am proud of the guys for being in this situation," Hake said.
Spring Grove 121 020 1 -- 7 9 1
Red Lion 000 000 0 -- 0 3 4
SG, Nick Spangler and Jon Gross; RL, Scott Rissler, Cody Godfrey (6) and Drew Landis. SO-BB -- Spangler 5-2, Rissler 0-1, Godfrey 2-2. W -- Spangler. L -- Rissler. 3B -- Dalton Hoiles.