Dallastown's baseball team rallied from an early deficit and scored the game's final six runs to defeat State College, 6-1, in a PIAA Class 6A semifinal Monday at Hershey High School. Jim Seip, YDR
HERSHEY - Dallastown found itself in an early deficit.
Its ace pitcher on the mound.
Its season on the brink of elimination.
What unfolded in the final innings of the PIAA Class 6A semifinal has been the hallmark of Dallastown baseball this season. It rode a near-perfect performance by pitcher Nick Parker and a balanced lineup crushed clutch double after clutch double.
For the first time in program history Dallastown is headed to the state final after defeating State College by a 6-1 margin at Hershey High School Monday. The Wildcats will play Pennsbury in the state championship at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Medlar Field at Penn State University.
"That's kind of been the story of our season all year," Dallastown catcher Bryant Holtzapple said. "Especially on this run ... adversity doesn't mean anything.
"We stuck to our game plan, stuck to our approach and responded with three runs right away."
Dallastown will ride a 20-game winning streak into the state championship game.
"This was our goal from the very start and it's happening," Dallastown's Scott Geppi said. "It's unreal, unbelievable."
State College's dream of heading home to the state championship fizzled almost as soon as it appeared possible.
The Little Lions manufactured a run against Parker in the top of the third in scrappy fashion. No. 8 hitter Evan Smith reached on a leadoff single. He advanced to second on a failed pick-off throw to first. He moved to third on a groundout to short, and he scored on a sacrifice bunt down the third base line.
"I wasn't worried too much about it," Parker said about the one hit and one run he allowed. "I was throwing the ball well.
"I was feeling good, so I wasn't going to change anything. And then I kept hitting spots, and that's always good for you."
Sure enough, just when it looked dicey for Dallastown, the Wildcats' lineup took the lead for good in the bottom of the third.
With two runners on and one out, Bryant Holtzapple put Dallastown on top with a two-run double. Joe Capobianco followed with an RBI double, chasing Holtzapple home.
"Especially in that at-bat, he was fastball-heavy," Holtzapple said. "I went looking for a fastball and got it."
Even if State College didn't realize it, the game was over.
Parker didn't allow another baserunner, retiring the final 12 State College batters he faced in order after the Lions' scrappy third inning.
"He's one of our bulldogs. ... He gave up that one and completely just beared down," Holtzapple said. "It was lights out since then."
Parker earned the complete-game victory, allowing just one hit. He struck out one, walked one and destroyed State College's title aspirations with groundball outs, keeping the ball down in the zone all day.
"It's honestly really special," Dallastown coach Greg Kinneman said about his team that started the year with a 3-4 record. "I'm trying not to cry."
State College starter Mason Mellott struck out nine in 4 2/3 innings, but the second time through the lineup Dallastown appeared to figure him out. They stung him for five runs on four hits and chased him in the bottom of the fifth. The Wildcats' Scott Geppi greeted reliever David Shoemaker by crushing a two-run double on the first pitch he saw.
"My first two at-bats were really rough, I struck out both times," Geppi said. "I wanted to hit the first pitch, and I hit a bomb."
Geppi would advance to third on a throw home, and with a big cloud of dust kicking up around the field after the play State College's chances of winning had vanished.
"If you look behind me, I have a goon throwing sunflower seeds at me," Parker said. "We have a lot of fun. We're a family, not a team. And we love to come out here and be with each other, that's what makes us different."
DALLASTOWN 6, STATE COLLEGE 1
SC, Mason Mellott, David Shoemaker and Tyson Cooper; Dt, Nick Parker and Bryant Holtzapple. SO-BB: Mellott 9-3, Shoemaker 0-1, Parker 1-1. 2B - Dt, Parker, Holtzapple, Joe Copobianco, Scott Geppi.
Dallastown vs. Pennsbury
What: PIAA Class 6A championship
When: 3:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Medlar Field, Penn State University