Historically-strong Dallastown American Legion team doesn't miss a beat with new coach
- The Dallastown American Legion team finished 9-4-1 in the regular season.
- Dallastown began playoff action Tuesday with a 3-0 win vs. Dover.
- Alex Weakland, after a strong regular season, hurled a six-hit shutout vs. Dover.
- Cole Bankert leads the team with 14 runs, 14 stolen bases and a .423 average.
Change is never an easy thing to deal with in life.
Sometimes, it can be even more difficult in sports.
Change, however, has not been much of an issue this season for the Dallastown team in the York-Adams American Legion League. The historically strong Post 605 program hasn't missed a beat while adapting to a new head coach.
Ed Bills, an assistant the past few years with Post 605, stepped up when Phil Jeanmenne stepped down following last season. Bills’ knowledge of the existing players, in addition to his relationship with a few new guys, has helped Dallastown earn the No. 3 seed in this season’s league playoffs after a 9-4-1 regular-season campaign.
Post 605 opened up the double-elimination playoffs with a 3-0 first-round victory over visiting Dover on Tuesday evening at Shryock Field. Dallastown will now travel to unbeaten New Oxford (14-0) at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday in a second-round winners' bracket game.
For Bills, the transition has been relatively seamless.
“I’ve been coaching some of the players there for quite a while,” Bills said. “Just living up and being up in that area (Dallastown).”
Strong pitching: One of the players that Bills knows a good deal about is standout pitcher Alex Weakland. The right-hander was one of the top performers on the Dallastown High School pitching staff over the past few years.
To no one’s surprise, Weakland has been a rock for the Post 605 pitching staff. Weakland finished the regular season with a 1.31 ERA while fanning 19 in a handful of outings. Then in Tuesday's playoff opener vs. Dover he hurled a six-hit shutout, striking out four without a walk.
“Alex is a big strength for us,” Bills said.
Bills also pointed to Peyton Fox, a Dickinson recruit, as a vital part of his team’s staff.
The success for Bills’ team is hardly just one-dimensional, however. It’s also not entirely the product of the highly successful Dallastown High School program, either. Bills is also an assistant coach for the Christian School of York baseball team. That team featured a player who is now another one of Post 605's top pitchers in Ivan Vuckovic, who was born in Serbia.
Strong hitting: The Dallastown hitters put up a strong showing during the regular season, as well, when Cole Bankert, Lee Kling and Isiah Schaeffer all hit over .350.
Bankert led the team in the regular season with 14 runs scored and 14 stolen bases to go with a .423 average. Kling led the team in batting with a .429 mark to go with eight RBIs. Schaeffer, another CSY product, led the team with 10 RBIs while hitting .351.
In Tuesday's win over Dover, the hitting leaders were Peter Capobianco (two hits, double, two RBIs, run) and Kameron Bayman (two hits, run).
Motivation: There's also one added motivating factor that Bills inherited. His team features a lot of hungry players who were disappointed with the ending of the Dallastown High School season.
The Wildcats, who won the York-Adams Division I and league titles, were knocked out of the District 3 Class 6-A playoffs in the first round. That ended a season that many were expecting would take them on a long trek into the PIAA playoffs.
“Yeah, I think there are a lot of guys that are looking (at Legion) as a way to make up for that,” Bills said. “Maybe take some of that frustration out on the other teams.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.