Senior catcher key piece to Wildcats' playoff run.


MUHLENBERG TWP. - Dallastown baseball continued this crazy run it's on, notching yet another victory and yet another playoff win to reach a state semifinal for the first time in program history. 

Fueled by a big first inning and the shutdown performance of sophomore starting pitcher Alex Weakland, Dallastown rolled to a 5-1 victory against St. Joseph's Prep Thursday in a PIAA Class 6A state quarterfinal matchup at Gochnauer Field at Muhlenberg High School. 

Dallastown (22-4) picked up its 19th straight victory. The Wildcats advance to play State College in a state semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Hershey High School.   

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Weakland might not be the biggest guy in the dugout.

He might not throw harder than everybody.

And he's certainly not the oldest boy on the team.

But the kid wants the ball, and the coaching staff recognizes his competitive fire.  

"Easy decision, honestly," Dallastown coach Greg Kinneman said about turning to the sophomore in the playoffs. 

"Maturity-wise he's not a sophomore, not a whole lot gets to him," Kinneman said. 

The typical start for Weakland includes the sophomore passing his coach in the dugout just to tell him he's going to finish the game. It's about the only words Kinneman hears from his underclassman all game.

And Dallastown staked him an early lead with a big first inning.

Dallastown struck for three runs without a hit. The Wildcats sent seven batters to the plate in the first, took four straight walks and chased St. Joe's starter and Iona-bound J.T. Gosweiler after a 41-pitch first inning.

Warmed up and ready to pitch, Weakland sat through the long top of the first while Dallastown built its early 3-0 lead. At one point he ran behind the dugout to start throwing during the rally so he could get a sweat going again.

"I had a little butterflies coming in to today, but once I got there everything was just back to baseball and having fun doing it," Weakland said. 

Weakland allowed one run on six hits. He struck out six and walked one.

Dallastown finished with just two hits, but it didn't matter, because Weakland kept St. Joe's off the board until the bottom of the sixth.  

Even when St. Joseph's Prep chased Weakland, ending his shutout bid by hitting a double and single to cut the deficit to 3-1, Dallastown responded.

With two on and no out in the top of the seventh, Nick Parker moved the two runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Bryant Holtzapple drove in a run with a fielder's choice. And Tye Golden scored on a double-steal when Holtzapple wandered off first and got caught in a rundown between first and second.   

"The fact that we could manufacture two runs in the seventh was huge," Kinneman said. 

Dallastown manufactured a run in a similar manner in its previous state tournament game.

"It's a play we do practice," Kinneman said.

Michael Carr recorded the final four outs, and like Weakland showed no sense of nerves on the mound.

"I'm used to coming into tight situations, that's what I do," Carr said. "I love having the ball in that situation."

Needing just two more wins to hoist a championship trophy, Dallastown's journey continues next week.   

"We're rolling at the right time," Weakland said. 

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Dt, Alex Weakland, Michael Carr (6) and Bryant Holtzapple; SJP, James Gosweiler, Pat Woltemate (2) and Logan Kellerman. 2B - SJP, Brandon Sanders. 

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