Spring Grove’s Trevor Troxel, center, and Will Maughlin, rear, celebrate after teammate Colby Murphy successfully slid into home during the
Spring Grove's Trevor Troxel, center, and Will Maughlin, rear, celebrate after teammate Colby Murphy successfully slid into home during the Rockets' 4-1 victory against Littlestown in Monday's YAIAA baseball tournament semifinal. (Daily Record/Sunday News -- Jason Plotkin)

Related: West York beats Delone Catholic to reach YAIAA title game

The Rockets took another step toward adding another baseball accolade on Monday afternoon.

In the last three years, Spring Grove's high school team has won a YAIAA Division I title and made an appearance in the PIAA tournament. The American Legion team also made a run to the Region 4 semifinals last summer.

On Monday, the Rockets defeated Littlestown, 4-1, in the semifinals of the YAIAA baseball tournament at Sovereign Bank Stadium in York.

The Spring Grove baseball team celebrates during after beating Littlestown, 4-1, in Monday’s YAIAA tournament semfinal game.
The Spring Grove baseball team celebrates during after beating Littlestown, 4-1, in Monday's YAIAA tournament semfinal game. (Daily Record/Sunday News -- Jason Plotkin)

The Rockets will face West York in the championship game at 6 p.m. this afternoon back at Sovereign Bank Stadium.

Spring Grove head coach Eric Zeigler tasked seasoned senior pitcher Levi Krause with the mound assignment, and Krause responded with a five-hitter and outdueled Littlestown ace Ryan Kehr.

"Me and Kehr were in the same offseason lifting group together, and we are good friends," Krause said. "Before the year, we said 'Let's face in a county game.' Being friends, to come out on top feels better."

Both pitchers gave up a run in the first inning, and then the zeroes started to pile up.

Kai Hess ripped an RBI double for the Thunderbolts in the top of the first to make it 1-0.

The Rockets responded with an unearned run against Kehr in the bottom half when Brandon Warner singled, stole second and scored when the Bolts committed two throwing errors on the same play.

Krause, who is one of three Rockets left from the 2011 team that that went to states, allowed just four baserunners in the last six innings. Only one of those runners made it as far as second.

Spring Grove’s Levi Krause was the winning pitcher during the Rockets’ 4-1 victory against Littlestown on Monday.
Spring Grove's Levi Krause was the winning pitcher during the Rockets' 4-1 victory against Littlestown on Monday. (Daily Record/Sunday News -- Jason Plotkin)

"Levi is very competitive," Zeigler said. "He knows going against a top guy that there's no margin for error."

Kehr found out just how little margin there is in a big game. For the most part, however, the mistakes were not committed by Kehr himself.

Kehr induced a pop-up off the bat of Jon Gross to open the bottom of the fourth, but the ball landed on the infield dirt for a single after two infielders appeared to lose sight of it.

Littlestown paid dearly as Brad Stagemyer singled to put runners on the corners with no outs, and Colby Murphy -- another veteran from the 2011 season -- brought home the go-ahead run with a fielder's choice groundout.

Krause retired the next six batters and then took it upon himself to add some insurance in the sixth.

Spring Grove’s Trevor Troxel makes a hit during the Rockets’ 4-1 victory against Littlestown on Monday at Sovereign Bank Stadium.
Spring Grove's Trevor Troxel makes a hit during the Rockets' 4-1 victory against Littlestown on Monday at Sovereign Bank Stadium. (Daily Record/Sunday News -- Jason Plotkin)

After Stagemyer and Murphy started the sixth with singles, Nick Spangler sacrificed them to second and third, and Warner, -- the other hold-over from 2011 -- grounded back to Kehr, and the runners held.

Kehr then made his only mistake of the game as he fell behind Krause and hung a curveball, which Krause pounded to left, scoring both runners.

"I kind of knew how he had been pitching the whole game," Krause said. "He would go 2-0, and throw off-speed pitches to get back in the count. I sat on the curveball, and he hung one, and I drove it through to left."

Spring Grove’s  Brandon Warner successfully slides into second during the Rockets’ 4-1 victory over Littlestown on Monday.
Spring Grove's Brandon Warner successfully slides into second during the Rockets' 4-1 victory over Littlestown on Monday. (Daily Record/Sunday News -- Jason Plotkin)

"I took (Kehr) aside after the game," Littlestown head coach Todd Gantz said, "I just told him that that is one of the best performances he's had all year. The way he pitched against a tough offense, I'm overall pleased with him."
  
   SPRING GROVE 4, LITTLESTOWN 1
Littlestown   100  000  0 -- 1  4  3
Spring Grove   100  102  x -- 4  9  1
   Lit, Ryan Ker and Travis Henrie; SG, Levi Krause and Johnny Gross. SO-BB -- Lit, Kehr 3-4; SG, Krause 4-1. W -- Krause. L -- Kehr. 2B -- Lit, Kai Hess; SG, Will Maughlin. 

Related: West York beats Delone Catholic to reach YAIAA title game