Zach Luman hasn't played with many of his Dallastown teammates for a long time, but he does know pitcher Tyler Butcher quite well.
Luman, the Wildcats' starting third baseman, said he's known Butcher his "whole life," and showed appreciation Wednesday, going 4-for-4 to spark a 5-1 YAIAA baseball win at Spring Grove. Butcher made it stand by throwing a complete game in which he struck out nine, walked just one and improved to 3-0 on the mound.
Spring Grove entered on a six-game winning streak; the Rockets hadn't lost since their season opener against non-league foe Solanco. That same day, Dallastown struggled against Mechanicsburg, leaving coach Don Trout scratching his head about what to do with a team that had just three returning starters.
"I like to call it 21/2," Trout said after that opener, counting Luman as only a spot starter on the Wildcats' division championship squad from a year ago.
Fittingly, three of Luman's hits from the cleanup spot Wednesday turned into runs. The senior finished with two runs, an RBI and a double among his four-hit day. He credited his work during the winter, using a batting tee to improve his ability to hit opposite field and up the middle.
"Wherever the ball's pitched, I'll hit it," Luman said.
When Luman returned to the dugout from his second-inning double, he told his teammates what he saw from Spring Grove starter Levi Krause. As the Rockets changed to Dalton Hoiles, this inexperienced Wildcat group that hasn't played much together -- but gets along well -- kept communicating.
James Striebig also was instrumental in the bottom portion of Dallastown's lineup. Like Luman, Striebig had hits in the second and third innings, with his one-out single in the third scoring Luman. Striebig finished 3-for-4, including a bunt single and the RBI.
As a team, Dallastown banged out 11 hits.
"I was real impressed with how they swung the bats," Spring Grove coach Eric Zeigler said. "They had a lot kids getting in there and hitting the ball hard. Even their outs, a lot of times, were hit hard. They're a very aggressive team in the box. They put the pressure on us and we failed to do that to them."
Throughout the Rockets' six-game win streak, they wreaked havoc on the base paths. Zeigler credited Butcher in nipping his offense's best attribute, and now it's Spring Grove that must bounce back and face South Western on Friday.
If a young Dallastown team can do it, perhaps the experienced one from Spring Grove can, too.
"We can definitely feel the momentum picking up," said Luman, citing the sluggish play against Mechanicsburg and South Western.
Their bounce-back win Wednesday came without Trout in the Dallastown dugout. Pitching coach Casey Markey, who took over in his absence, fittingly saw all three of his pitchers make some kind of contribution. Not just Butcher.
Markey called them "1A, 1B, 1C," but it just so happened that two of them, Luman and Striebig, contributed with their bats.
DALLASTOWN 5, SPRING GROVE 1
Dallastown 012 000 2 -- 5 11 2
Spring Grove 010 000 0 -- 1 6 3
Dallastown, Tyler Butcher and Cody Sommerville; Spring Grove, Levi Krause, Dalton Hoiles (3) and Jon Gross. SO-BB -- Dt, Butcher 9-3; SG, Krause 0-0, Hoiles 3-1. W -- Butcher. L -- Krause. 2B -- Dt, Zach Luman; SG, Trevor Troxel. HR -- Dt, Tanner Forry.