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History in the Making? Rocky Grove Baseball Hopes So as Orioles Battle Camp Hill for PIAA 2A Title
(Rocky Grove player douse manager Bill Wilson after the District 10 championship win. The Orioles hope to get Wilson wet again Thursday with a PIAA title)
Rocky Grove hopes so.
The Orioles aren’t just going for school history when they face Camp Hill in the PIAA Class 2A baseball title game at 1 p.m. Thursday, June 14, at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on the campus of Penn State University, the Orioles are trying to make District 10 history as well.
No District 10 team has ever won a PIAA baseball championship, and Rocky Grove is just the fifth District 10 baseball team to ever reach the title game.
“It does,” Rocky Grove manager Bill Wilson said when asked if having the opportunity to be the first District 10 team to win a baseball title adds extra motivation. “I think it drives us. I see a lot of fire in the boys’ eyes right now. It makes it more meaningful having a chance to make history. They are so after it right now. We are doing everything to get prepared for this.”
Wilson said he wants his team to enjoy the moment, enjoy the memories that are being made. With that in mind, he took his team to State College earlier Wednesday than he had originally planned.
“We were planning on going a little later in the day, but I wanted them to fully enjoy it,” Wilson said. “We wanted them to relax and have a good time. It’s a beautiful university. A lot of our boys have never been there. It gave our kids a chance to get there and relax and take some pressure off. We decided we weren’t going to try to pack the schedule full. This is a great bonus for us. We want them to enjoy it. It is a once-in-a-lifetime memory. We want them to get the most out of it.”
While Wednesday was reserved for soaking in the moment, Thursday is all about the game, according to Wilson.
“Thursday is getting down to business, getting to work,” Wilson said. “We want to get to the field early, study it and relax. The PIAA has us starting our schedule with batting practice, infield that sort of thing at 11:30 a.m. But we want to get there earlier, give them a chance to absorb the whole thing and get used to it.”
As for the game itself, when you get to this game at this time of year everyone is good.
The Orioles, the District 10 champions for the third straight year, enter the contest at 16-3 and riding a seven-game win streak that includes a perfect 6-0 postseason record.
Camp Hill, winners of District 3, are 17-8 on the year and have won five in a row, all in the postseason. This is the Lions fifth trip to the PIAA title game with the other four coming in Class 1A. Camp Hill won the title in 1999, 2008 and 2009 while losing in 2001.
Both teams will be without their aces, as both Rocky Groves Travis Perry and Camp Hill’s Luke Goodyear threw over 100 pitches in semifinal wins Monday.
But neither team is really hurting in the pitching department.
Rocky Grove will turn to Travis Perry’s younger brother, Scott, to bring it the championship.
Scott Perry has been very good all season and enters the game with a 1.64 ERA. He got the save in the semifinal 2-1 win over Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic throwing just five pitches to do so despite giving up an RBI single. He is 4-0 on the year and threw a strong game in a 7-3 quarterfinal victory over Southern Huntingdon last week going six innings of six-hit, three-run ball.
“He pitched a gem against Southern Huntingdon,” Wilson said. “He has done that two or three times in the playoffs. He represents us very well. He keeps the ball down, hits his spots and mixes pitches. He hardly seems to get too emotional as well. He catches the ball and pitches it. He has a short memory.”
Wilson said he has all the confidence in the world in Scott Perry to the point where despite the game’s ramifications he doesn’t plan on having him on a short leash.
“I have full faith in him even if he gives up a couple of runs,” Wilson said. “I won’t jump to any conclusions. Maybe, if it is late in the game, I will reconsider and talk to my coaches about what to do. But he continues to do the job. I haven’t seen too many major mistakes. He does a great job.”
Tyler Knupp would be the pitcher Wilson turns to if something goes array with Scott Perry.
Knupp, who had trouble closing out the semifinal win being removed after giving up a double and hitting a batter Monday, has been strong all season long with a 1.11 ERA and three saves.
Conner Curran could also pitch if needed. Curran is 2-1 with a 1.27 ERA on the year but hasn’t thrown in a game since May 9.
While Rocky Grove will turn to another Perry to get them a state title, Camp Hill will most likely turn to another Goodyear, senior Josh Goodyear.
Josh Goodyear has basically been a 1A for the Lions on the season going 5-1 on the year with a 1.38 ERA. He has struck out 47 in 45 ⅔ innings of work while walking 18.
The question is how fresh is Josh Goodyear after throwing 3 ⅓ innings and 51 pitches in Camp Hill’s come-from-behind 8-7 win over Schuylkill Haven in the semifinals Monday?
While Wilson isn’t one who can answer that question, he did give his general thoughts on pitching and rest.
“I will always say you are better off being fresh,” Wilson said. “I like to give my pitchers a full week off unless they are under 25 pitches. If they get to 50 to 75 pitches, I think they need time off. We faced this situation against Southern Huntingdon, and I think their guy probably got worn down. That is really with anyone. But I am sure (Camp Hill) Has depth, three or four guys they can go to.”
The Lions do indeed have four additional pitchers who have thrown between 15 ⅔ innings and 19 ⅔ innings this season led by Quinn Buffington’s 19 ⅔ innings of work. Buffington is 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA but hasn’t pitched since thrown a ⅓ of an inning May 24. His last extended outing was a 5 ⅓ innings May 10.
Carey Myers is coming off the least amount of inactivity having pitched two innings June 7 in a second-round PIAA win over Bellwood-Antis. Meyers is 1-0 with a 0.89 ERA in 15 ⅔ innings.
Luke Newman and Carson Ebel could also be used by the Lions.
The pitchers will be facing two solid lineups.
Rocky Grove comes into the contest hitting .315 as a team with Camp Hill batting .298. The Orioles average 6.9 runs per game including 5.5 in the postseason with the Lions averaging 7.16 per contest including 5.4 in the postseason.
Travis Perry (.449, 2 HR, 2 3B, 7 2B, 14 RBIs), Curran (.415, 6 HR, 5 2B, 26 RBIs), Scott Perry (.370, 1 HR, 3 2B, 5 RBIs), Knupp (.333, 3 2B, 2 3B, 13 RBIs), Koby Winslow (.395, 1 2B, 9 RBIs), Tyler Clayton (.333, 4 2B, 6 RBIs), Hunter Bruner (.311, 5 2B, 5 RBIs), Justin Heller (.152. 2 2B, 8 RBIs) and Nick Sanner (.164, 5 RBIs) make up the starting nine for Rocky Grove.
Wilson said the fact anyone in his lineup can be the hero is what he likes most about his team.
“It gives me great comfort and confidence,” Wilson said. “On any given day, it can be a couple of different players. Lately, the bottom of our lineup has come in and done the job. With the bottom of the order, that is just a blessing. We can take anything we get. If everyone comes to play and someone has a bad day, someone picks him up.”
The starting nine for Camp Hill should be Buffington (.395, 4 HR, 5 2B, 5 3B, 23 RBIs), Josh Goodyear (.354, 3 2B, 1 3B, 22 RBIs), Newman (.277, 2 HR, 4 2B, 18 RBIs), Luke Goodyear (.329, 2 HR, 3 2B, 13 RBIs), Casey Fellinger (.316, 1 HR, 6 2B, 23 RBIs), Jackson Thompson (.338, 6 2B, 3 3B, 21 RBIs), Myers (.303, 1 HR, 2 2B, 11 RBIs), Mason Gavlick (.243, 5 2B, 1 3B, 8 RBIs) and Ben Snyder, Conner Bowen, Ryan Forester or Noah Foster. Foster has the most at-bats among that group but didn’t hit Monday. He is hitting .200 on the year. Snyder and Bowen have a combined eight at-bats on the year, while Forester is hitting .136.
Wilson said he isn’t so much worried about what Camp Hill’s batters do as he is about his pitchers executing their game plan.
“We execute our game plan,” Wilson said. “We don’t necessarily go after their weakness. We go in with a mindset that if our guys throw their game, you have to come and beat them. Fundamentally, our thoughts are we have great, quality players. If they go out and do their jobs, you have to come beat them.”
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Rocky Grove – District 10 Champions
May 21 – Rocky Grove 3, Cochranton 0 – District 10 Quarterfinals
May 24 – Rocky Grove 6, Mercer 3 – District 10 Semifinals
May 28 – Rocky Grove 10, Union City 0, 6 innings – District 10 Championship Game
June 4 – Rocky Grove 5, Neshannock 1 – PIAA First Round
June 7 – Rocky Grove 7, Southern Huntingdon 3 – PIAA Quarterfinals
June 11 – Rocky Grove 2, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 1 – PIAA Semifinals
Camp Hill – District 3 Champions
May 21 – Camp Hill 3, Kutztown 0 – District 3 Semifinals
May 24 – Camp Hill 6, Newport 0 – District 3 Championship Game
June 4 – Camp Hill 3, Northwest Area 0 – PIAA First Round
June 7 – Camp Hill 7, Bellwood-Antis 2 – PIAA Quarterfinals
June 11 – Camp Hill 8, Schuylkill Haven 7 – PIAA Semifinals
DISTRICT 10 BASEBALL TEAMS IN PIAA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
2015 – Lancaster Catholic 9, Eisenhower 0 (Class 1A)
2006 – Christopher Dock 9, Villa Maria 0 (Class 1A)
2000 – Southern Columbia 2, Sharpsville 0 (Class 1A)
1999 – Camp Hill 4, Linesville 2 (Class 1A)
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