The Cedar Crest baseball team cashed in early against South Western, taming the Mustangs 9-4 in a District Three Class AAAA quarterfinal contest played at Hershey High on Thursday.
Crest, seeded second, will now face No. 14 Central Dauphin (13-9) in Tuesday's semifinals at 6:30 p.m. at Fredericksburg's Earl Wenger Field. The Rams beat No. 6 Wilson 5-0 on Thursday in West Lawn.
"Coming in, I really got the sense that these guys were ready to go. They were confident," Falcons manager Chris Groff said. "That was the first time we've done that in a while, stringing a bunch (of hits) together like that."
Black, a senior right-hander, struck out nine in six innings of work. Backed by a pair of double plays from his infield, the Virginia Commonwealth recruit allowed just four hits before giving way to reliever Cameron Mathis in the seventh.
"He was fantastic. He came out and threw strikes, hit spots and made the pitches when he had to make them," Groff said of his starter. "And those double plays were awesome. Those weren't tailor made, our boys had to move that ball around. And anytime you got Smitty (Zach Smith) over there at first, he scoops everything."
South Western starter Eric Moul, fresh off five shutout frames in Monday's first-round victory over Solanco, lasted just 1 2/3 innings Thursday. The senior southpaw surrendered a solo shot to No. 2 hitter Getz on his eighth pitch of the day, and things fell apart from there.
"It certainly didn't go the way we wanted it to," Mustangs leader Mike Resetar said. "We asked a lot out of Eric. We asked him to do something that he probably wasn't used to and stretched him a little bit. And Cedar Crest came out swinging the bats, there's no question about it. ... It just wasn't meant to be today."
Following Getz' 330-foot blast to left, Moul walked Zach Hostetter and gave up a weak infield single to Smith. Next, designated hitter Logan Fullmer, the Falcons' pitcher in Monday's 3-1 opening-round win against Cedar Cliff, deposited a fastball over the fence in the left-field corner to clear the bases and make it 4-0.
"(Getz's) home run was huge," added Black. "He's actually hurt. He jammed his toe, and we were messing around with him because he didn't practice - and then he comes out and hits a home run. I heard them talking in the first inning, and then we scored four runs, and they didn't say anything the rest of the game."
The Falcons (19-4) continued to feast in the bottom of the second, sending nine batters to the dish. Mike Wealand doubled to start the rally, and Getz added a walk to set up an RBI double by Hostetter with one out. Getz was then thrown out at home on a fielders' choice off the bat of Smith.
With two outs, Daulton Ritter delivered a two-run triple for an 8-0 edge. It also ended Moul's afternoon after 58 pitches. He gave up nine runs on seven hits and four walks.
"His ball was up a little bit today, and that's a sign of arm fatigue," added Resetar. "I probably shouldn't have done what I did, but we tried and thought it was the best game plan. Obviously, it didn't go the way we were hoping."
Groff said he understood Resetar's decision to roll with the hot hand - a left one at that.
"I'm assuming that they started him because they did their research and felt a lefty was good against us," Groff replied. "We prepared for him. We had lefty batting practice (Wednesday) and right batting practice for the game. I just had a feeling they were going to start him, that was kind of their recipe for success against us."
Bean entered the game with Fullmer on third and two outs. Josh Hamaker greeted the 6-foot-4 right-hander with an RBI double, making it 9-0. After a Collin Miller walk, Wealand flew out to left to end the barrage.
"Cedar Crest has a real nice team. I wish them luck," said Resetar. "If they play the way they did today, I don't see why they can't win the whole thing this year. They have a real nice ball club."
South Western did not roll over, though. The Mustangs finally got to Black in the fifth when Kyle Raubenstine crossed courtesy of a walk, throwing error and fielder's choice. They also added two more in the sixth on RBI groundouts by Zach Gross and Matt Taylor. The final run came in the seventh when Bishop Elder knocked in Bean.
"The biggest thing was keeping them close and not letting them bunt and run and do all that little gimmick stuff. That was (coach's) gameplan. They got picked off four times Monday against Solanco," said Black, who threw roughly 20 pickoff attempts in his six innings.
Black's methodical pace also drew the ire of several Mustang followers.
"When it was dead quiet, I heard them a couple times and laughed," Black said of the hecklers. "When it's loud I don't hear anything. It doesn't bother me either way. It's funny."
South Western, seeded 10th, ends the season at 14-8.
"It was a great year. We have five real good seniors that busted their butts for us," said Resetar. "It's never easy when you lose, but somebody's going to lose - it's the end of the year. We battled, they came back when we were down 9-zip and made it somewhat competitive. That's all you can ask for. We just weren't able to get any momentum once they were up."