The Dallastown American Legion baseball team isn't paying attention to its seeding in the playoffs.
Entering the postseason, Dallastown earned the No. 4 seed, positioned almost smack dab in the middle of the eight-team field. However, the Dallastown Legion outfit features most of the players from the Dallastown High School team that won the York-Adams League title this past spring. Because of that, Dallastown feels that it's still the team to beat, regardless of seeding.
So, it comes as no surprise to the Dallastown players and coaches that, three games into the Legion playoffs, they are the only unbeaten team left in the double-elimination tournament after defeating No. 2 seed Pleasureville, 4-1, on the road on Sunday. It was a battle of the last two unblemished teams left in the playoffs.
"We're definitely playing our best baseball right now," Dallastown manager Phil Jeanmenne said. "The guys have put it on their shoulders, themselves, that they want to win and keep winning. It's their team. They want to win it and they're showing it and they're playing their best baseball right now."
It also helps to have the pitching depth that Jeanmenne is blessed with. Here he was in the third game of the Legion playoffs in four days and he was able to turn to arguably one of the best pitchers from this past high school season in Riley Hamberger.
Hamberger had a tall task ahead of him going into Sunday's game, facing a Pleasureville side that was scoring nearly 10 runs per game over its previous seven games. He silenced the Hawks' bats, however, limiting them to just three hits in a complete-game victory, striking out 11 and walking five.
A performance like that made it easy for the Dallastown offense, which squandered several chances early, but did enough to give Hamberger a margin he would not relinquish.
Dallastown jumps on top: Dallastown struck first in the contest in the top of the second, using a Nick Parker leadoff double and then some small ball to scratch across the game's opening run. Parker wound up scoring on a Chace Miller sacrifice fly. Dallastown loaded the bases on three straight two-out walks following Miller's flyout, but a deep drive by Tye Golden hung up just enough to get Pleasureville out of the jam down just 1-0.
After both sides put up scoreless frames in the third and fourth, Dallastown added insurance in the fifth, scoring twice on two errors to push its lead to 3-0. At that point, that seemed like plenty for Hamberger, who was in command, even if his manager wasn't completely sold.
"I never, ever feel that we have enough, but being up 3-0 at that time, I would rather be up 3-0 than down," Jeanmenne said. "I didn't write it off. I had guys warming up in the sixth and seventh innings, just in case."
After Golden added a sac fly of his own in the top of the sixth to give Dallastown a 4-0 lead, Hamberger ran into his only real trouble of the contest. Despite not allowing a hit in the inning, three walks and an error allowed Pleasureville to push across its only run of the contest, albeit an unearned run.
"I just started over-striding a little bit," Hamberger said about his command issues in the sixth. "Once I told myself to shorten up a little bit — I throw a lot of balls in the dirt when I over-stride — and I shortened it up and started coming back in the zone a bit and it was big because they were threatening, bases loaded, and to only give up one run was big."
He responded by striking out the side in order in the seventh to seal the victory.
The setback for Pleasureville now has it one game from elimination, despite entering the tournament as the regular-season co-champion. Pleasureville will need to reel off three straight wins to win the playoff title and advance to the Region 4 Tournament.
"We'll be ready," Hawks' manager Bob Davis said. "...We just have to put more effort into it now."
As for Dallastown, one win could potentially advance it to the Region 4 Tournament next weekend, a spot that, despite its seeding, is a position that the team expects to be in.
"I know we were the four seed, but in our dugout and in my mind, I feel like we have the talent to keep playing as long as we want to," Hamberger said. "As long as we play our game, we have a very tough team and are a very tough out."
Dallastown will not play again until Wednesday. On Tuesday, Pleasureville will take on the winner of Monday's game between Red Lion and Northeastern. Dallastown will then get the winner of that game on Wednesday.
LEGION PLAYOFF GAMES
Red Lion 8, New Oxford 4: At Red Lion, the home team stayed alive in the York-Adams American Legion double-elimination baseball playoffs with an elimination-game victory. Red Lion was helped by three New Oxford errors that allowed four unearned runs to score. Red Lion, meanwhile, played errorless defense. New Oxford also walked six batters, compared to two for Red Lion. Cam Gipe (two hits, run, RBI), Tyler Stabley (hit, two walks, three runs) and Cole Daugherty (RBI, two runs, walk) led Red Lion's offense. Erik Paules got the win, allowing three runs over five innings. Stabley got the save, pitching two innings and allowing one run. Paules and Stabley each struck out two. New Oxford's Nathan Breighner and A.J. Baadte each had two hits. Red Lion will now play Northeastern at Manchester at 5:45 p.m. Monday.
Northeastern 13, Hanover 3 (5 innings): At Manchester, Brayton Bare led the home team to the victory by going 3 for 4 at the plate and starting the game on the mound, throwing four innings to pick up the victory. Teammate Brady Dolan went 2 for 2 with a triple. For Hanover, Kyle Bowman went 2 for 3. The loss ended Hanover's season.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org