After Dallas lost to Hazleton in late April, shortstop Will McCrum remembers the team riding home in silence.
McCrum said the Mountaineers knew they were capable of much more, something they proved by winning 13 straight games to capture the state championship. Dallas finished its run with a 5-0 win over South Park in the PIAA Class 4A championship game Friday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
“It’s unbelievable,” Dallas left fielder Drew Patton said. “We’re the best team in the state.”
The Mountaineers (15-6) started the season with a 2-6 record and never lost again as they captured the District 2 and PIAA titles. Patton said Dallas’ pitchers put together quality outings to go with solid offensive production to recover from the rough start. The Mountaineers blasted music on the way to Penn State for Friday’s game and played with confidence.
Dallas starting pitcher Nick Kocher allowed six hits and struck out nine in six innings to earn the win against South Park (23-4). McCrum went 3 for 3 with an RBI, and Darren Kerdesky added a two-run triple to power Dallas offensively.
The Mountaineers took control in the fourth inning, keeping South Park off the board in the top half before scoring two runs in the bottom of the inning. In the top of the fourth, South Park’s Kevin Vaupel singled to left field with runners on first and second. Patton fielded the ball as South Park pinch-runner Brenden Gray rounded third and fired home.
“I think I said something along the lines of, ‘Sit down, buddy,’” Patton said with a smile.
The throw was high, but easily beat Gray to the plate to gun him down and end the inning. Dallas then took the lead in the bottom of the fourth, scoring the first run on a throwing error on a bunt. South Park made another error on a bunt in the sixth inning that led to Dallas’ third run.
“We know we left a lot of stuff out there today and didn’t execute,” South Park shortstop Tyler Bywalski said. “You can’t do that in big games.”
Dallas capitalized on the miscues and added to its lead with big hits to capture the state title and finish the season on a 13-game winning streak.
“I still can’t believe it’s possible to be honest,” Patton said.