How sweep it is!
Quarryville captured the Quad County Optimist Baseball League in dominant fashion by blanking Smitty's Cardinals 7-0 Sunday night at Lancaster Mennonite.
Regular season champion Quarryville (19-4-1) went 6-0 in the postseason, sweeping the best-of-5 championship series with Smitty's Cardinals after doing the same to Memory 21 in the league semifinals.
"It's really fun," winning pitcher Zack Leonard said. "This is what it's all about. You see the families and the friends that are coming out to each game. We had between 18 and 20 guys out here for the playoffs. Other teams are struggling to get nine guys out. It means so much to the whole team to be around each other and the friendships we've developed through the years. To come out on top is always our goal at the beginning of the season. We just enjoy being together and winning."
In earning its third league title since 2013, Quarryville outscored Smitty's Cardinals a combined 21-3 over the three games.
"They're all a little different, but I think this one was a little sweeter," Quarryville manager Brian Tercha said. "As we age, we have to grind a little more. As guys have more responsibilities outside of recreational baseball, they have a lot more to shuffle around. With age, it does seem to get a little sweeter. It's not as expected. The thing that surprises me about it is you really carry these. Even though it's rec baseball, you carry it through the year with you. You go to work the next day and you know that you did something great. You achieved something and you worked hard and you build a lot of friendships along the way. It's a nice thing to carry. It really sticks with you."
Leonard, the first of three Quarryville pitchers in the game, battled his way through five innings. Leonard fanned five and yielded four hits and a walk. "I always love to get the big opportunities and come out and perform and do well," said Leonard. "I love to compete. Competing on a championship level is what I love to do. That's what I live for out here as a pitcher."
Josh Howells worked the sixth and gave up a walk. Josh Squatrito allowed the first two baserunners to reach in the seventh but ended the game with a double play and strikeout. Quarryville turned three double plays in the game.
Tanner Kennedy drove in three runs including a key two-run triple in the second inning.
"It's great," Kennedy said. "I'm out here with all my brothers, competing. It was a team win. The whole season was a team win. We found a way to piece it together here at the end, won six straight."
Kennedy, a Penn Manor High grad, joined the team before Quarryville claimed the 2015 league title. "One of the best decisions I've ever made was to come out and play with these guys," Kennedy said.
Quarryville manufactured a run in the top of the first. Leadoff hitter Matt Rayha walked and stole second. With one out, he advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Jimmy Spanos grounder.
Quarryville turned its first double play after a leadoff single in the bottom of the second. Shortstop Ben Miller could not cleanly field a hard grounder. The second baseman Rayha, who was moving to cover the bag, picked up the ball, touched second, and fired to first to complete the twin-killing.
"The ball was hit hard," Miller said. "I was actually just trying to keep it in front of me. It just happened to bounce off my leg and go right to [Rayha]. We definitely got the break there."
Quarryville took advantage of another break to score three runs in the top of the third. With two outs and Miller on first, Ben Thomas hit a high popup down the left field line. Three Cardinals fielders converged on the ball, but none made the play. Kennedy followed with a booming triple to right-center.
"[The count] was 2-2 and he threw me an off-speed pitch," said Kennedy. "I refined my approach a little bit, decided to sit back and relax, be simple, and I just tickled something into the outfield. I got that up and outside pitch, let him do the work, and I just coasted it out there."
Jeremy Hess drilled a single to left to plate Kennedy and extend Quarryville's lead to 4-0.
Leonard escaped a jam in the home half of the third, thanks in part to his catch of a foul popup. Smitty's Cardinals had the bases loaded with one out. Leonard recorded a strikeout and got the next batter to hit a popup in front of the third base dugout. Catcher Ben Thomas could not locate the ball so Leonard, holding his hat in his right hand, raced off the mound and made the grab a couple steps in front of the fence.
"My hat was actually falling off," Leonard said. "That's why I took it off. Bases loaded, two outs. I was facing one of their best hitters. He's a good fastball hitter and I challenged him with a fastball and I was hoping that he would pop it up or I would get a groundout. I thought Ben the catcher should've had it. He didn't see it. That's why I was starting to go over. I was just like, 'Oh boy. I've got to get this.' And I got it."
Quarryville padded its cushion to 4-0 in the fourth. Joe Murray got things started with an infield hit off the pitcher's glove. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tag Hess and to third when Rayha bounced a single through the hole. After the second out, Murray scored on a wild pitch.
Quarryville tacked on two more in the sixth. Tag Hess doubled to deep center and eventually scored on a Spanos sac fly. Kennedy added an RBI bloop single to right.
Outstanding during the regular season of the adult, wooden bat league, Quarryville turned it up a notch in the playoffs. "The focus level goes up a little bit more and you do get a better turnout so you're working with your 'A' team most of the time and that helps," said Tercha. "That's one thing that we get right in this league, that we do series. From when the series starts to when it ends, you're on edge the whole time, no matter where it is in the series."
Miller, who Tercha calls "the heart and soul of the team" has been a key cog in all three championship squads. He also helped Solanco High win its only district title back in 2007.
"For me, personally, obviously every one is special," Miller said. "But I just had a kid this year (a son named Ollie). He is 10 months old today. Certainly that means a little bit more from a personal standpoint. I love coming out here with these guys and competing. It takes the stress out of daily life. Now you get to play baseball. I just love being around the guys. My wife (Katie) is amazing. She's been to just about every game with the 10-month old. She's very supportive. She doesn't want me to miss any games. She knows how much I love it. Like I said, every one is special but this one definitely has a soft spot for me."
Miller also enjoys playing for Tercha. "I wouldn't want to play for anyone other than this guy," Miller said. "He loves the game. He loves the guys. For us, winning is a bonus but we come out here for the camaraderie. We just love each other. Win or lose, we have a great time. We're loud and obnoxious. We just love to get after it."
The feeling is mutual.
"It's really cool with this group," Tercha said. "There are a lot of people who know each other outside of this. There's a lot of cohesion in the offseason. We play Fantasy Football together as a group. We have a golf outing every year as a group. Everybody stays connected. Then in the winter, everybody starts getting that itch for baseball and we start chatting about it. It keeps it fun."
Smitty's Cardinals 1
Matt Carta hurled a complete game and did not give up an earned run Saturday night, August 3. The righty fanned 10 and yielded four walks and three hits.
Ben Miller had a hit and drew a walk and scored both of Quarryville's runs in the first and third innings. Jimmy Spanos supplied an RBI single.
Smitty's Cardinals 2
Tanner Kennedy doubled and drove in three. Ben Miller, Jimmy Spanos, Ben Thomas, and Jeremy Hess each knocked in a pair of runs. Hess had three hits on the night.
Chris Powl pitched all five innings and allowed one earned run
Quarryville sweeps Memory 21
In the league semifinals, Quarryville swept a best-of-5 series with Memory 21.
The series concluded Wednesday, July 31 when Quarryville finished off a win in a game that began the night before then followed with a game three triumph.
Quarryville prevailed 12-5 in the completion of the suspended game.
Brady Thomas and Tim Fetterman were each 3 for 4 with two RBIs and scored twice. Matt Rayha and Jimmy Spanos both knocked in a pair of runs.
Quarryville scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth to snap a 4-4 tie. Zack Leonard allowed four runs (three earned) in five innings of work to notch the win. Hayden Fox pitched the final two frames.
In game three, Quarryville scored once in the sixth to tie the game and tallied twice in the top of the seventh to triumph 5-3.
Spanos provided a pair of RBIs and Rayha and Ben Miller each drove in a run.
Justin Lichtenwalner tossed two shutout innings to earn the win.
Quarryville took game one 9-0 Monday night, July 29 at Solanco High School.
Matt Carta tossed a complete game shutout to lead the hosts.
Miller, Spanos, Brady Thomas, Jeremy Hess, and Joe Murray each had multiple hit games.
Quarryville tallied twice in the second inning. Tanner Kennedy walked and advanced to second on a passed ball. Jeremy Hess singled up the middle to plate Kennedy and Hess moved up to second on the throw to the plate.
Brady Thomas followed with an RBI single to center to make it 2-0.
Quarryville added three runs in the third. Kennedy hit a sacrifice fly to score Miller and Hess knocked in Spanos and Ben Thomas with a double that one-hopped the center field fence.
Fetterman was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fourth to force home a run.
Photos from the league semifinals