Northeastern Legion looks ahead to playoffs after near-perfect regular season

Dave Shindler's Northeastern team couldn't complete a perfect run through the York-Adams American Legion regular season, but his group still has plenty to look forward to in the playoffs.

Northeastern concluded its 12-game schedule on Wednesday evening with a doubleheader against Hanover, capturing an 8-2 victory in five innings before suffering a 1-0 loss in three frames as play was called due to darkness. That abbreviated loss was the first setback all summer for Northeastern, which dropped to 11-1, but Shindler's group had already clinched the league's regular-season title.

“It's been a long time since anybody finished the season perfect, but we're looking beyond (the regular season),” Shindler said Thursday.

As the first-place finisher in the regular season, Northeastern will receive a bye to the best-of-three league championship series, which begins Tuesday, July 9. The second- and third-place finishers will meet in a semifinal contest Monday, July 8. Hanover, which finished a 7-5 season with Wednesday's split, appears likely to play in that contest against either New Oxford (6-4) or Red Lion (4-4). Those two teams have not yet played either of their scheduled head-to-head matchups.

The York-Adams playoff champion will advance to the Pennsylvania Region 4 tournament in mid-July. Northeastern made the regional final in 2023 before losing to Harrisburg-based Paxton. With nearly everyone back, the team has been dominant this year, outscoring York-Adams opponents 103-13 in 12 games.

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American Legion baseball teams feature players 19 and under, some of whom were in college this year before returning home for the summer. Northeastern's team closely mirrors the Northeastern High School squad, as 17 of Shindler's 18 players were in the Bobcat program either this year or last (the lone exception is outfielder Ethan Reibold, who attends Central York). Six members of this group were on Northeastern Little League's state champion 8-10 team in 2017.

“They've all played together since they were 7 or 8 years old,” said Shindler, whose son Quinn graduated from Northeastern High School this spring. “Some were on the Little League state team, some were a year ahead of that. They've played Junior Legion together, they've played Legion together, they've played high school together, and overall it's a pretty tight-knit group.”

The bats came alive in the third inning of Wednesday's doubleheader opener. Northeastern trailed 2-1 through two but plated three, one and three runs in the ensuing frames. Brinden Floyd went 2 for 2 with two RBIs to lead the offense, and after he gave up a pair of first-inning runs on the mound, Conner Rippo and Owen Wilhide kept Hanover scoreless down the stretch. The trio combined for nine strikeouts.

In Game 2, Colton Miller worked three scoreless innings to pick up the pivotal win for Hanover. Floyd returned to the mound for Northeastern and issued a bases-loaded walk to Owen Lalley in the top of the first for the game's only run. Northeastern filled the bags in the bottom of the first goal grounded into a double play, and Miller escaped a third-inning jam with runners on first and second.

With its regular season complete, Northeastern can rest up for the playoffs in just under two weeks. The pitching staff is fresh, as nobody has logged more than 15 Legion innings thus far. Several members of the team will continue playing in the York Central League, some with Manchester and others with neighboring Mt. Wolf.

Northeastern needed three games to hold off New Oxford for last year's York-Adams Legion title, and Shindler knows his team's dominant regular season won't mean anything when the playoffs begin. It's hard not to dream, however, about what might lie ahead.

“They got a taste of it last year and they know what they're capable of,” Shindler said. “It's not putting the cart before the horse, but they know that we have a pretty good team and they want to go far.”


More Legion baseball: New Oxford broke open a back-and-forth game against Dover with a four-run sixth inning to secure an 11-4 home victory. Gavin Haifley had two hits and Carter Wagaman notched three RBIs for New Oxford, which also scored four in the third to take a 5-3 lead. Wagaman allowed four runs, all unearned, in four innings pitched before Tyson Carpenter followed with three shutout frames.

Dover fell to 0-9 with the loss. Chase Ferguson and James Ehrlinger recorded two hits a piece and combined for three RBIs. Dover is scheduled to host Shiloh (3-7) on Friday evening.

Susquehanna League: Conrads won his third straight game and climbed back to .500 with an 11-3 road handling of Windsor. The visitors took a 6-0 lead in the second, then scored four in the fourth to pull ahead 10-2. Mitchell Garber hit a two-run homer in the fourth, Channing Bratton went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and Hunter Williams pitched five solid innings to earn the win.

Cole Daugherty drove in all three runs for the Cardinals (11-8), smacking a two-run homer in the third and adding a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Windsor remained fourth in the eight-team standings.

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