Dallastown sophomore pitcher seeks title game gem
Meet the projected starting lineup for Dallastown baseball. The Wildcats enter the state championship game against Pennsbury with a 20-game winning streak. Jim Seip, YDR
He's soft-spoken and mild mannered. But don't mistake those character traits for a lack of competitive fire. And certainly don't misinterpret them as a lack of poise in the big moment.
Alex Weakland has pitched important games all year for Dallastown: He won the YAIAA championship with a 2-0 victory over Gettysburg. He continued that trend with an 11-1 victory over Governor Mifflin in the District 3 Class 6A championship game.
And he'll look to keep it going Friday, when the Wildcats take on Pennsbury in the PIAA Class 6A title game. The contest is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Medlar Field at Penn State University. And yes, the sophomore right-hander is getting the nod once again.
“Same mindset. I’ve had it the whole season," Weakland said following the Wildcats' Wednesday practice. "Go right after hitters and have some fun with it. There’s two teams left....Just try to do what I’ve been doing the whole year.”
Head coach Greg Kinneman pointed out the Wildcats have been alternating starts between junior standout Nick Parker and the sophomore Weakland for four weeks. Couple that with Jake Gates in a long-relief role and Michael Carr as the team's closer, and the Wildcats' rotation has been solidified for some time.
Parker started Monday's 6-1 semifinals win over State College, in which he allowed just one hit. Parker threw 87 pitches that day, and Kinneman said the junior would be available, if necessary, Friday.
"You’re talking about three days rest. I don’t really think it’s fair to Nick Parker to throw him back out there on Friday and say ‘Hey, throw another 100 pitches for us and get us seven innings,’" Kinneman said. "It’s not the right move, No. 1 for Nick, and No. 2, we have all the confidence in the world in Alex Weakland.”
And rightly so.
Weakland is far from boisterous — in a typical interview, he offers little more than three-to-four word answers per question. On the mound, while he won't necessarily blow the opposition away with the high hard stuff, he isn't afraid to pull the string with his offspeed arsenal either.
At the end of the day, he gets results. On the season, Weakland holds an 8-0 record and a 0.99 ERA.
"He is a little more soft spoken. He’s really humble and composed," said senior shortstop Tye Golden. "Knows that you go to work every day, play baseball every day, and just do your job.”
Kinneman said Weakland's competitive desire has been big for the Wildcats throughout the season.
"He's kind of got ice water in his veins," Kinneman said. "There’s been a handful of games where, early on he really didn’t have his best stuff. But he competes, he battles through it. And often, once he gets into the second, third, fourth inning of those particular games, at least, you can see it sort of kick in."
No matter how things unfold Friday, it will be a historic moment for the Wildcats and, in turn, Weakland. It's the program's first-ever state-title game appearance, meaning Weakland's the first pitcher to take the mound for Dallastown in such a scenario.
“Someone who doesn’t get rattled a lot and kind of a laid-back person. That’s my personality," Weakland said. "I feel like no moment is too big.”
If you go
Who: Dallastown vs. Pennsbury
What: PIAA Class 6A baseball championship
Where: Medlar Field at Penn State University
When: 3:30 p.m. Friday