With graduation a few hours away, the Falcons made quick work of Central Dauphin in a 15-2 District Three semifinal matinee at Earl Wenger Field.
The No. 2 seeded Falcons will now play No. 13 Penn Manor for the Class AAAA championship Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Sovereign Bank Stadium in York. Crest will be seeking its second title in the past three seasons.
The Comets advanced by disposing of Red Land 5-3 in an eight-inning game that took two days to complete. Lightning cancelled action Tuesday, also forcing Crest and CD to move their semifinal contest to noon Wednesday. The early start allowed 10 Falcons to attend commencement ceremonies at 6 p.m.
"All I know is we started at noon just in case the game took too long; I had no idea it was going to end that quickly," manager Chris Groff said.
Crest (20-4) needed just four innings to knock out a dozen hits and draw nine walks. The hosts burned through four Ram pitchers, prompting the 10-run mercy rule by putting up crooked numbers in three consecutive frames. Starter Justin Rohrer recorded only four outs in the loss for Central Dauphin (13-10).
"There wasn't anything on our minds when we were playing. Everything we wanted to do was right here on this field," senior Galen Rader said. "Everything else was behind us; it didn't matter that we were (graduating) later."
Rader crossed the plate four times in the victory, and five other Falcons scored multiple times in the blowout. In addition, Zach Smith and Connor Baweic combined to knock in six runs as eight different players registered RBIs.
Starting pitcher Logan Fullmer put a cap and gown on the affair with five solid innings. The right-hander gave up a leadoff single to Annville-Cleona transfer Tyler Napierala and got better the rest of the way. The Maine recruit finished with five strikeouts and two
"When it comes down to it, it doesn't surprise me at all," added Rader. "It could've been higher than (15-2), we definitely played well. It's like we're saving it all for right now, and that's all that matters, too."
After a single tally in the first, the hosts scored four, seven and three runs in the next three frames. For perspective, they batted around twice in four chances.
"We are peaking right now and playing our best ball, no doubt about it," Groff said. "Our pitching has been great all year, our defense has been great all year, and now we're putting the hitting together."
With Crest leading 5-2 to start the bottom of the third, Josh Hammaker and Collin Miller hit back-to-back singles to open the seven-run barrage. Mike Wealand then poked one up the middle, leading to walks for Rader and Garrett Getz.
Next, Zach Hostetter hit a smash to third base before Zach Smith and Baweic took two more free passes. Fullmer finally hit a sacrifice fly for the first out. By then it was 11-2.
The Falcons' final blow of the day came courtesy of pinch hitter Brady Galbraith's two-run double in the fourth.
"I'm a little shocked. I wouldn't have said 15-2, but we'll get through the rest of the day," smiled Groff. "We'll have some fun with the boys graduating and start our homework on (Penn Manor)."
Other highlights included Getz' three-run, three-walk performance, and Miller's two-run, two-hit day. Fullmer
"We're playing well. We came out smoking the ball," Rader said. "We're going to take it one game at a time and obviously work our butts off. There's not a doubt we can't win it all - district, states - there's no doubt. We're playing better now than we have in the past two years."
Crest advanced to the semis with a 3-1 win over Cedar Cliff and 9-5 triumph against South Western. They have beaten No. 13 Penn Manor twice this spring by a combined margin of 9-1. The Falcons also clinched a state playoff berth with their win over the Rams.