READING — The Dallastown baseball team let one golden opportunity to score get away in the top of the first inning.
When the Wildcats got their next chance, they made sure it wouldn't go to waste.
Trailing by one against Gov. Mifflin heading into the top of the third, Dallastown got its bats going. Once one guy started hitting, everyone joined the party.
By the time the inning ended, 27 minutes and 12 hitters after it started, the Wildcats put up an eight spot. From that point forward, it was smooth sailing, as Dallastown captured the program’s first-ever District 3 baseball championship, winning the 6-A title game, 11-1, in six innings over the Mustangs at Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium.
“Just everything going on, the last couple weeks have been the greatest weeks, I can say, of my life and probably their lives, as well,” senior shortstop Tye Golden said. “We graduate tomorrow and this is the perfect thing in the world. Especially the first one.”
After Golden began the top of the third with a pedestrian ground out to first, the next nine guys for second-seeded Dallastown reached base, shelling Gov. Mifflin starter Joe Adametz and chasing him from the game with just one out in the inning.
Peter Capobianco belted a two-run single to make it 4-1 Wildcats, but things didn’t get any better for Mustangs’ reliever Arias Ochs. He gave up two more hits, including a two-run double by Golden. By the time the frame ended, Dallastown built an 8-1 cushion for starter Alex Weakland.
Weakland shines on mound: Weakland was happy to be staked to the big lead, but coming back out after a half inning that was so long was difficult. In fact, he had to go down to the bullpen to stay warm. However, he rarely got himself into trouble, and when he did allow a base runner, he quickly erased them, rolling three double plays to end innings.
“I was just trying to go right at them,” Weakland said. “That was the game plan going into the game, to throw strikes and let the defense do their work.”
After the third inning happened, the only question that remained was whether or not the Wildcats would end the game via mercy rule.
After Dallastown (20-4) did little damage in its next two innings at the plate, things came together in the top of the sixth. The Wildcats strung together four hits in the frame, scoring three runs to push the lead to 11-1, the necessary 10-run cushion needed for a mercy rule. The deciding run came on Zach Ness’ RBI triple, which one-hopped against the part of the wall labeled 350 feet.
“We just kept our same approach,” senior catcher Bryant Holtzapple said about the sixth. “We’ve been rolling for a while. Our hitters have done a great job with approach and we stayed there the whole game and 11 runs just came up on the scoreboard.”
With one final attempt to extend the game into the seventh, top-seeded Gov. Mifflin (18-7) had its leadoff guy reach on an error, but the game ended on the third and final double play.
Weakland allowed just three hits in his six innings, striking out just one hitter and needing just 62 pitches. His only blemish was an unearned run in the top of the first that put the Mustangs up, 1-0.
Wildcats on serous roll: Rather than looking at the deficit as a problem, however, Dallastown viewed it as a microcosm of its season, starting slow and then finishing strong. Thursday’s win was their 17th in a row.
“The game kind of epitomized our season to that point,” head coach Greg Kinneman said. “In the first inning, we get the bases loaded, don’t score a run, they come in, score a run on a play we probably should’ve made and then all of a sudden, we put up an eight spot. It’s not any different from the 3-4 start that we started out with.”
Eight of the nine players for the Wildcats scored in the game, with Golden being the only one not to cross the plate. Peter Capobianco drove in a game-high three runs, while Golden had two RBIs. As a team, Dallastown belted out 13 hits.
With the win, the Wildcats head into next week’s state tournament full of momentum. The confidence would’ve been there, regardless of the championship game outcome, but coming off a win such as Thursday's only adds to the energy that’s been building over the last several weeks.
“I think it adds a little bit more momentum,” Golden said. “It’ll definitely get everyone wanting to get back on the field and playing. I think, either way, with a loss, we’d come out with the same intensity and momentum because playing with them and listening to them cheer is fun.”
Dallastown opens the state playoffs on Monday against the fifth-place finisher from District 1. The time and site are to be determined.
Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org.