After two days of weather postponements delayed the start of the YAIAA Baseball Tournament, Gettysburg manager Ryan Brady is balling on a budget. The currency? Pitch count.
The Warriors helped their manager stay in the black on Wednesday, dumping Biglerville 10-0 in a five-inning game at New Oxford. They got all of their runs in the first three innings, allowing starting pitcher Josh Topper to make an early exit after 53 offerings. Alex Meckley pitched the final two frames to preserve the shutout.
The Warriors aren’t likely to build the same sort of lead tonight — not while facing Dallastown, the YAIAA 1 champ that delivered a 15-3 beatdown to Gettysburg in late March. The Wildcats advanced to the semifinals with a 12-0 victory over West York on Wednesday.
“We’re happy to be here, but the rain definitely hurt our game plan as far as how we’ll go after it,” Brady said. “If we play like we played today, we have a shot to win tomorrow. We expect to win.”
Gettysburg would love to make revenge the top priority right now, but Brady said having fresh arms when the District 3 Class 5A tournament begins on Monday is the bigger priority.
“We’re in a different spot than the other teams in this tournament,” Brady said. “Biglerville and Dallastown have first-round byes so they don’t play until next Thursday. We play Monday, so Josh wasn’t going out there for 100 pitches even if it was a 1-0 game.”
Marshall Mott will get the start tonight but will be limited to 70 pitches, Brady said.
Gettysburg (18-2) needed only seven hits to deliver the knockout blow to the Canners (15-6), who put themselves on the ropes without much of a push. Six errors and five walks plagued a team and pitcher that usually are better at avoiding them.
Ben Bretzman labored on the hill as the Warriors fouled off pitches left and right. He averaged just less than five offerings per batter through 2.1 innings before exiting.
“We were trying to grind him down a little bit, but we knew we’d be in for a tough task,” Brady said.
The middle of the Warriors’ lineup delivered as needed to put the game out of reach early. Dillon Gebler drove in a run on each of his first two trips to the plate. In the first, a bloop to right scored Zach Ketterman, who reached on an error. In the second, he worked the count to its ninth pitch before slapping a soft grounder back up the middle to bring home a man from third.
“The strategy is just to get on base,” Gebler said. “We need fast kids on base, especially. I know if I don’t come through, I can trust the kids in the bottom of the lineup. We’re good all around.”
Cleanup man Dylan Ed was just as effective, slipping a grounder down the first baseline for an RBI single in the first. Another grounder through the right side made him the first man to two hits on the day. The RBI knock brought the lead to 5-0 by the end of the second inning.
“At the plate I was expecting fastball but watching for his curveball, because he has a great curve,” Ed said. “Just trying to drive that fastball into the gap.”
Brady has been able to count on a youthful middle of the lineup all season.
“Dillon Gebler gets a lot of positive at-bats. It’s rare he gets fooled and most of the time he hits the ball hard,” Brady said. “Eddy’s a good hitter. When he’s going, he’s as good as anybody.”
The Warriors officially ushered Bretzman out of the game in the third. Collin Campbell singled and Meckley walked with one out.
On the first pitch reliever Eli Weigle threw, Ketterman followed a triple in the previous inning with a bunt single. An overthrow to first allowed a run to score.
“He has the green light for that,” Brady said. “We as coaches don’t put the play on because a lot of it is a reaction to where the third baseman is playing. I don’t want to put a bunt on if he’s taking it away. Zach’s smart enough that we put it in his hands.”
The Warriors scored four more runs in the inning on an underthrown ball from third and a dropped fly in right to bring the lead to 10-0 after three. Topper closed out the bottom of the inning, finishing with a line of five strikeouts with two walks and a hit batsman.
Meckley allowed the Canners’ only hit, a bunt single by Nick Wright to start the top of the fourth. Wright got to third on a wild pitch and a groundout, but Meckley blew fastballs past a pair of hitters for two of his three strikeouts to retire the side. One walk in the fifth was his only other blemish.
The Warriors clinched their third straight YAIAA-2 title earlier this year. Only the two seniors, Topper and Simeon Davis, and junior Zach Ketterman have been around for all three crowns.
Last year’s YAIAA tournament was cancelled due to several thunderstorms the week of the tournament, so today’s championship game will be the first for the majority of the Warriors’ roster.
Like the younger Warriors, the Canners missed out on their chance to play in the tournament last year. Wednesday’s showing was not what head coach Jeff Taylor envisioned after a two-year wait.
“It started from the get-go,” he said. “You can’t have six errors in this caliber of game and expect to win. You have to give their pitchers credit. We took too many strikes down the middle. We didn’t seem ready to play today.”
After a 9-0 start, the Canners go into the District 3 Class 3A tournament having won 7 of their last 13. They have remained atop the power rankings despite the stumble.
At 18-2, Dallastown poses the biggest threat to the Warriors’ 17-game winning streak that got them as high as the No. 3 seed in the Class 5A power rankings. Dallastown is ranked No. 2 in the 6A district slate.
Before district play begins, the YAIAA’s top two teams will tango one more time. The Warriors dropped a 2-0 decision to the Wildcats two years ago in the championship game.
“We have nothing to lose,” Brady said. “We know what we’re playing for next week, but at the same time we have a great opportunity to win a county title. We’re not going to pass that up, but we’re not going to put Monday in jeopardy.”
Gettysburg 325 00 — 10 7 0
Biglerville 000 00 — 0 1 6
Ben Bretzman, Eli Weigle (3) and Nick Wright. Josh Topper, Alex Meckley (4) and Dylan Ed. WP: Topper. LP: Bretzman. K-BB: Topper 5-2, Meckley 3-1, Bretzman 5-4, Weigle 1-1. 3B: G- Zach Ketterman.