Taneytown Cardinals manager Steve Bosley wasn't kidding when he saidthe Cashtown-Taneytown semifinal series was the real championship inthe South Penn League this year.
Bosley said with no hesitation the winner of that Western Division championship series would roll past the Eastern Division finalist.
He was right. His Cardinals advanced to the finals after a nip-and-tuck series with Cashtown that went down to the last out of the deciding game (a 10-9 Taneytown come-from-behind win).
And they did indeed roll over the Eastern Division champs, the New Oxford (Pa.) Twins, pretty much in the bold, matter-of-fact fashion Bosley had predicted one week earlier.
"It (the championship series) was really anti-climactic," Bosley said. "We had no reservations about the finals. There was no way we were going to lose three out of five games against them. It was just a matter of doing the things we've done all year long. They came in tight and we were very relaxed."
They completedthe three-game sweep of the Twins Sunday with a 13-5 win at Taneytown Memorial Park.
The Cards scored a pair of runs in the first two innings and then put the game and the championship out of reach with six in the third to take a 10-1 lead.
Bruce Rupp provided much of the damage with a three-run homer in the big third inning.
Matt Bair went 3-for-5 with three runs batted in (he finished with eight hits in the three-game series) and David Crouse added a two-run shot andan RBI single.
That was more than enough for starting pitcher RonSell, who gave up three runs in seven innings to record the win.
It was a solid pitching performance with tight defense -- something the Cardinals relied on all year long -- that got the ball rolling in the first game of the championship round.
Bryan Harman won that game -- a 4-1 victory at home -- and the Cardinals cruised from there over the weekend by whipping the Twins at New Oxford, 15-2, Saturday and then wrapping up the series at home on Sunday.
Bosley praised the efforts of Harman and Crouse, but emphasized the total team effortbehind the two.
"If Bryan Harman doesn't get Pitcher of the Year and David Crouse isn't the Player of the Year, there is no justice inthis league," he said.
And the players' numbers support his point.
Harman finished the year a perfect 10-0 with a stingy 1.31 ERA, making a strong bid to be named the league's top pitcher for the second consecutive season.
"Bryan had one of the better years he's hadsince he's been here. He had complete command of all his pitches andno one really hit him hard," Bosley said.
Crouse's numbers are equally impressive. In 31 games, he had a .398 batting average with 10 homers and 46 RBI.
"Crouse had superb numbers throughout the year and carried us early in the season. It was a total team effort, however, and somebody was always there to pick him up. When you go 34-7, it takes a lot of clutch hits from different people," Bosley said.
And what about 1992?
"Every year we seem to lose three guys and get three guys better," Bosley said. "Almost everybody has indicated they would be back, so all I can see is us getting stronger and stronger and stronger."