Wildcats roll to district championship. (Teddy Feinberg/GameTimePA.com)
Dallastown made history Thursday night, capturing its first district baseball championship in program history.
The No. 2-seeded Wildcats beat No. 1 Governor Mifflin 11-1 in six innings in the District 3 Class 6A title game at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading.
The Wildcats entered Thursday's game with a 8-20 record in District 3 play, including a first-round loss last season.
"It's crazy. It's kind of surreal we're the first one in program history," senior catcher Bryant Holtzapple said. "All year, it's been something special about us, ever since we first got together in September. In that dugout, it's a family. Never give up on each other. Find a way for each other and have each others back. It's special."
The program has been on the upswing under second-year head coach Greg Kinneman, winning two straight YAIAA titles and qualifying for the 2017 state tournament. The Wildcats have a loaded roster, with a relentless batting order and a deep, talented pitching staff.
"It's really surprising that we've never done this before," said senior second baseman Joe Capobianco. "But it's awesome at the same time. This is the best."
Dallastown has now won 17 straight games, with its latest victory coming in blowout fashion.
The two teams met earlier this season, with Governor Mifflin winning 5-4. Thursday's title game saw a drastically different result, however.
The Wildcats left the bases loaded in top of the first, then surrendered a run in the bottom half of the frame. At that point, it looked like Dallastown could be in for a battle.
But the bats started clicking against Governor Mifflin starter Joe Adametz. The junior left-hander kept the Wildcats off balance with his timing early — a slow, deliberate approach, to be exact. But Dallastown figured things out in the third inning.
Runs came courtesy of Capobianco's RBI single; a passed ball; a Peter Capobianco RBI base hit that scored two; a Penn Manor error; Tye Golden's RBI double as two more crossed the plate; and a Nick Parker sacrifice fly.
"We came in here expecting a dogfight," Holtzapple said. "But the bats came alive in that one inning. Made it easier on us, especially defensively and especially with A-Dub (Alex Weakland) on the mound, pitching with a seven-run lead."
Capobianco said the Wildcats have shown a penchant for the comeback all season.
"Got down a little bit, but our team fights," he said. "Nobody lost confidence. We were all in there the whole time.
"This is the team that does it. Our motto's finish, and that's what we do."
As the Wildcats batted around in the third, pitcher Alex Weakland was sent to the bullpen to maintain his sharpness.
Weakland, who's had a dynamite second half of the season, responded by shutting down the Mustangs. The sophomore got double-play ground balls in the third and fourth innings, and then set down the side in order in the fifth.
Dallastown got three more runs in the sixth, with the deciding blow being Zach Ness' rocket triple to right field, which scored the final run of the contest.
The 10-run mercy rule was in effect, and Weakland induced another double play grounder in the bottom half of the inning to finish things off.
"Just go right at them like I had been doing the whole game," Weakland said. "Throw strikes, defense played great behind me....I had confidence in myself and my teammates to make the plays."
The Wildcats advanced through the district tournament by beating No. 10 Manheim Township (5-3 final score) and No. 3 Penn Manor (3-0).
Then came Thursday's emphatic championship triumph.
"In the first inning, you get the bases loaded, we don't score a run. They come in, they score a run probably on a play we should have made," Kinneman said. "Then in the third inning we put an eight-spot up. It's really no different than the 3-4 start we started off with, and now have run off, I don't even know what the number is anymore....The win kind of epitomizes where we are at this point of our season."
The state tournament awaits the District 3 Class 6A champs.
"We're going to try to win the whole thing," Capobianco said. "We're going to go after it. Four games, right?"