Wildcats down Gettysburg to take home league title -- again. (Teddy Feinberg/GameTimePA.com)
The Dallastown Wildcats won their second straight YAIAA baseball championship on Wednesday.
And while Greg Kinneman was thrilled with the result following his team's 2-0 victory over Gettysburg High School, the Wildcats' head coach hopes its a sign of even more to come for his program.
The title was certainly sweet for the Wildcats. It marked a bounce-back performance after the team dropped an early-season game to the Warriors. And while Dallastown got off to a sluggish start to the year with a 3-4 record, the team is currently red hot, riding a 14-game win streak entering the District 3 playoffs.
Players piled on the pitcher's mound, received their medals and Kinneman was doused with the standard Gatorade shower following the contest. He then said he wants his team to continue building off its recent league title run.
"We want our program at the point where we have that confidence," Kinneman said. "When we get off the bus, and we do what we do at Dallastown, that we're going to put ourselves in a position to win a baseball game. And honestly, I think we're really close to getting there. I think we're starting to build that."
Said catcher Bryant Holtzapple: "We felt we had a little bit of an advantage being here last year. Knowing what this was all about. Once we got here, it was ours to win."
Gettysburg beat Dallastown 6-4 on March 27, a win that propelled the Warriors to an 8-0 start. Gettysburg tailed off a bit as the season moved along, finishing with a 14-6 overall record. Regardless, the Warriors still managed to win a YAIAA Division II championship, and then beat Susquehannock in a 6-5 thriller during Tuesday's league semifinals.
Dallastown, on the other hand, hasn't lost since April 10. That streak includes an 11-4 victory over York Catholic to move into Wednesday's title game.
"Obviously everyone looked at us at 3-4, and we looked at ourselves. It's not where we wanted to start but we knew that we still had a chance if we just stuck together like we did. There was no doubt that we could turn it around," Holtzapple said. "And the coaches, they just let us play through it. Figured it out a little bit, and here we are."
Last year Dallastown won a 4-3 thriller over Northeastern to capture the league crown. This year's win came in a crisp, clean contest.
Wildcats' starting pitcher Alex Weakland dueled with Gettysburg starter Josh Topper from start to finish and both teams played strong, if not standout, defense behind their respective sophomore hurlers.
Both pitchers worked fast and efficiently, yet it took Topper an inning to settle into things.
Dallastown led off the top of the first with a single from Tye Golden, a double from Nick Parker, an RBI sacrifice fly from Holtzapple, and an RBI single from Joe Capobianco. Just like that, the Wildcats took a 2-0 lead.
They would get no more, however, as Topper relied on a serious dose of breaking balls to keep the offense at bay. He exited the game in the seventh and final inning as he was approaching the 100-pitch limit, which requires high school teams to make a move on the mound.
Weakland, on the other hand, was sharp early and even sharper late. The sophomore has come on strong during the second half of the season and got the starting nod in the league title game.
His poise was on display throughout, as he surrendered just three hits in the complete-game victory.
"If you go back to some of our biggest games, he's been on the mound," Holtzapple said. "It says he's a sophomore, but his maturity goes way beyond that."
Weakland said a turning point of the season came in an 8-2 win over Lower Dauphin that kick-started the Wildcats' win streak.
"That's the kind of game where we turned it around a little bit," he said. "I had a couple starts before that, they were quality but they weren't very good in my opinion. That game, my confidence boosted a lot and my defense played great behind me."
Wednesday's game saw each team hit some balls hard, but both defenses were on their toes from the get-go.
The fifth inning saw Dallastown put a runner at third base with one out. A sharp grounder was hit to Gettysburg third baseman Michael Tempel, who delivered a strike to the plate to get runnner Golden trying to score.
Dallastown returned the defensive gem in the bottom half of the frame, however, when Topper hit a grounder in the right-side hole. Capobianco displayed outstanding range, moving to his left from second base, picking the ball and getting it to Weakland who was covering at first.
"It was a very well-played high school baseball game with two good baseball teams," Kinneman said. "What's going to win championships is pitching and defense. And both teams that were here tonight pitch and play defense."
YAIAA tournament champions
2015: West York
2014: Spring Grove
2013: West York
2012: West York
2011: York Catholic
2010: South Western