The Community Connection

Spring-Ford loses to North Allegheny

Spring-Ford’s magical run ends with 3-1 loss to North Allegheny

- By Owen McCue @Owen_McCue on Twitter

YORK » The Spring-Ford baseball team was three outs away from having its season end two weeks ago.

A bottom of the seventh rally and a Dylan Ducharme walk-off grand slam saved the Rams and sparked a four-game winning streak to extend their season an extra 13 days.

That run ended on Monday at PeoplesBan­k Park in York — one game short of the final day of the 2021 PIAA Class 6A baseball season — when District 7 champion North Allegheny took down District 1’s fifth seed Spring-Ford, 3-1, in the state semifinal.

The Tigers will face District 12 champion La Salle in the championsh­ip game at Penn State on Friday at 4:30 p.m. The Rams conclude a 22-5 campaign that included the program’s first Pioneer Athletic Conference championsh­ip since 2017 and its deepest postseason run since 2014.

“I think when we look back on it, we’re going to recognize how special this season was and how difficult it was to get where we were,” Spring-Ford coach Rick Harrison said. “Obviously right now, it’s pretty painful and this is not where we want to be losing the game.

“But if you look back and we started the season late, the COVID protocol, two of our top four pitchers go down. We’re down into the play-in round, playing a hot Wilson team. … I think when the pain of losing this game goes away and we look back we’re going to recognize that finishing the season 22-5 with the adversity that we’ve overcome is pretty special.”

The Rams struck first in Monday’s game when senior leftfielde­r Ducharme sent one over the fence in left center in the top of the second to spot Spring-Ford a 1-0 lead.

The advantage was short-lived as two walks, followed by an RBI double from Logan Andreyko, and a two-RBI single by Danny Gallon, gave North Allegheny a 3-1 lead after three.

Neither team allowed a run over the final four innings of play.

“After last year, we thought we were destined to make a run,” Ducharme said. “Even though we did make a run, it’s not where we wanted to end up. One run’s not going to win a ballgame, especially against that team over there. Stuff happens, but it’s not the outcome we wanted.”

Spring-Ford senior left-hander Jackson Malouf got the nod for the Rams, allowing three earned runs on five hits in 4 and twothirds innings before senior righthande­r Jack Kisela allowed just one base runner in the final inning and a third.

“It’s a great accomplish­ment for our program,” Malouf said. “We work our butts off every single day and we put our heart, sweat and tears into it. It’s just one inning. It stinks but ...”

Ducharme (2-for-3) and junior Jake Books (2-for-3, triple) had four of the Rams’ six hits. Griffin Straface and Jarrett Gordon tallied the other knocks.

Spring-Ford loaded the bases on Tigers’ starter Brady Palmer (5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) with one out in the top of the sixth when Straface walked and Gordon and Books followed with singles.

North Allegheny’s Kyle Demi came in and forced junior Aydan McNelly to line out to Gallon at first for an inning-ending double play to escape the jam. On the pitch before the double play, McNelly was inches away from a potential bases clearing extra-base hit down the line.

“It’s a game of inches,” Kisela said. “You know that coming in. It is what it is. This is a game of failure as well. You win some you lose some.”

The Rams entered this season like many others, with virtually no official varsity experience following a 2020 season that was cancelled by the pandemic. But Spring-Ford founds its groove fast, winning the PAC with a 15-1 league record and perfect 10-0 Liberty Division mark.

Even after losing two of their top arms, seniors Michael Cunningham and Jack Price, before the postseason, the Rams advanced to the District 1 quarterfin­als, won two district playback games and two state playoff games to leave a large senior class with a multitude of memories.

“We were hoping for the best at the beginning of the season,” Kisela said. “We were putting in the work. We didn’t know what was going on around the league, so we were ready to compete and at the end of the season we showed up and made a littl states run out of it. It was a lo of fun. I wouldn’t have rathe done it with anybody else.”

Spring-Ford bids farewell to se niors Malouf, Kisela, Ducharm Gordon, Cunningham, Pric right fielder Billy Bean, catche Cole Casamento, centerfiel­de Nick Cagliola, Jake Corropoles and Nick Ashley.

Most of the group started pla ing together in second grade.

“We’ve been together since w basically started playing,” Casa mento said. “We just have tha close-knit bond with each othe Every game we played it like ou last.”

They now leave the reins of th program to a talented junior clas that includes shortstop Strafac third baseman McNelly and firs baseman Books.

“I think the deal is they gott do this every year,” Casament said. “They gotta compete ev ery year and get as far as the can.”

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 ?? OWEN MCCUE - MEDIANEWS GROU ?? Spring-Ford’s Griffin Straface, left, gets caught in a rundown by North Allegheny’s Cole Young during a PIA Class 6A semifinal Monday at PeoplesBan­k Park in York.
OWEN MCCUE - MEDIANEWS GROU Spring-Ford’s Griffin Straface, left, gets caught in a rundown by North Allegheny’s Cole Young during a PIA Class 6A semifinal Monday at PeoplesBan­k Park in York.

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