DALLASTOWN — It’s been quite a while since Dallastown Post 605 advanced to the American Legion regional tournament.
It was so long ago, that most players on the roster either were not born or were barely alive.
The last time it happened was way back in 1997.
Rehashing old history, however, isn’t what drives Phil Jeanmenne’s club.
Making history is more their style.
The Dallastown players can say they did just that after winning the York-Adams American Legion playoff title Wednesday evening against regular-season co-champion Northeastern. Mired in a scoreless tie heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Post 605 scored the game’s only run when Dan Kuklinski drew a bases-loaded, four-pitch walk.
As a result, the York-Adams No. 4 seed will head to Fayetteville this weekend for the Region 4 playoffs after rolling through the local bracket unbeaten. Dallastown will square off against Lancaster champ Ephrata at noon Saturday.
“It could have been better,” said Post 605 starter Avery Strayer, on his team’s on-field celebration. “He (Kuklinski) didn’t want to go down. But this feels good.”
Strayer was a big reason his team was able to prevail Wednesday. While his team was getting no-hit by Northeastern starter Kenny Kopp, Strayer was able to hold the visitors off the scoreboard all night. The right-hander limited Northeastern to two hits, although he was helped by his defense after surrendering five walks.
No inning was bigger than the third, when Northeastern put two runners in scoring position against Strayer with one out. A come-backer to the mound off the bat of Brayton Bare allowed Strayer to get the runner from third at the plate before he escaped the inning with another ground out.
“I was over-striding a lot,” Strayer said of his command issues early on. “So my first-pitch fastballs were hitting the dirt.”
Before he could continue his thoughts, Strayer’s teammates gave him a whipped-cream pie to his face. But, just like he did all night, the Dallastown pitcher was unfazed.
“My change-up was working real well,” he continued, while wiping the whipped cream away from his eyes.
Once Strayer made his adjustments, he was nearly unhittable. Northeastern managed just one hit after the third inning, a two-out single by Devin Blymire in the sixth.
“Avery had some mechanical problems early,” said Jeanmenne, who is in his second year leading the program. “He made the adjustments, pretty much on his own, and he was able to come through after that. After that third inning, he really stepped it up.”
Strayer’s performance earned him the tournament’s Most Outstanding Pitcher Award. He allowed two runs over 14 innings to earn a pair of victories.
He would have likely pitched one more inning had his teammates not come up big in the seventh. A single by Regis Maher and a walk by Bryant Holtzapple started off the frame against Northeastern reliever Kody Reeser. After Nick Parker sacrificed both runners up a base with a bunt, the visitors elected to walk Zach Ness to load the bases.
That set the stage for Kuklinski, who entered the game in the fourth inning. Reeser, however, made it easy on Kuklinski, missing on four consecutive pitches to end the game in walk-off fashion.
While Dallastown celebrated, the Northeastern boys walked off the field with their heads hung. Coach Ken Kopp, however, refused to be anything but proud of the way his team fought through the losers' bracket. Playing four games in four days, Kopp’s club was oh-so-close to finding a way to win the tournament under the most difficult of circumstances.
“I’m very proud of them,” Kopp said. “Win or lose, I’m proud. We had some chances, but I felt that Avery got stronger as he went. We blew some chances in the beginning of the game where we should have scored some runs.”
Riley Hamberger and Maher collected the only two hits that Post 605 tallied, while Bare and Blymire each singled once for Northeastern.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.