Wildcats roll to district championship. (Teddy Feinberg/GameTimePA.com)
The YAIAA and District 3 Class 6A Champions, Dallastown, will meet District 6 Champion State College in a PIAA semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Hershey High School.
Before we break down the game, let's take a quick look at how each team got here:
State College, winner of District 6, defeated North Allegheny, 1-0 and Penn Manor, 3-1 to reach the semifinal. Dallastown knocked off Hatboro-Horsham, 8-1 and St. Joseph's Prep 5-1 to reach the semifinal. The Little Lions are 13-10 overall while the Wildcats, winners of 19 straight, are 22-4.
Statistically, Dallastown, leads in nearly every category, but as a sports fan you understand that games aren't won, or lost, on paper.
State College has been scrappy the entire postseason, beating teams in North Allegheny and Penn Manor that, like the Wildcats, probably were the better team on paper.
When you have a Division I pitcher, anything can happen, and the Little Lions are proof of that with Mason Mellott, a Penn State recruit.
State College will turn to staff ace Mellott who is 5-4 this year with a 1.53 ERA and 69 strikeouts in a shade over 50 innings. Mellott pitched the Little Lions to their 1-0 first-round victory over North Allegheny, giving up two hits while striking out 12.
Dallastown will counter with Nick Parker. The junior, a Coastal Carolina recruit, is 2-0 this season with a 1.07 ERA. He has struck out 17 in 19 2/3 innings since returning from an early-season injury.
"He's been their ace and has pitched very well as of late," said Dallastown coach Greg Kinneman of Mellott. "You pretty much know what to expect from him and you've got to go out and put in some pretty good at bats and make things happen."
The Wildcats possess a dangerous lineup top to bottom, but are led by Bryant Holtzapple, Tye Golden, Joe Capobianco and Parker. The quartet has combined for 67 RBIs, 29 extra base hits and 77 runs scored. Golden also adds a little juice on the bases, having stolen 21 this year.
State College is a team that scores using a small-ball approach. As a team, the Little Lions have 181 hits, but just 24 are for extra bases. They also possess seven players hitting .312 or higher, led by Liam Clarke's .406 average.
"They're a pretty solid team. I don't think their overall record indicates what kind of team they are," Kinneman said on State College. "From the reports I'm getting and what I know personally, it's not indicative of a .500 team. They're one of the last four teams remaining in the state for a reason."
The winner of this game will meet the winner between District 11 champion Liberty and District 1 champ Pennsbury on Friday at Penn State.