About 30 seconds after the final out, Dom Masullo came to a realization.
Bellefonte was now the best team in Class AAA in Pennsylvania.
In the middle of the Red Raiders’ celebration on the field, Masullo shed tears of joy.
“I just couldn’t help it,” Masullo said. “I mean it was just such an amazing story and an amazing win. Amazing season, too.”
The senior right-hander pitched a complete game to lead Bellefonte to a 2-0 win over Susquehanna Township in the state championship game Friday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
The Morehead State commit struck out five, walked one and allowed five hits in the dominant outing.
According to Masullo, it was his best performance of the season.
“Today, I didn’t throw one pitch that I thought was a bad pitch,” Masullo said.
Masullo finished the year 8-3 with a 2.15 ERA.
He pitched in six of the team’s seven district and state playoff games, earning five wins and one save.
After the celebration Friday, Masullo embraced his father, Pat, who was an assistant coach this season.
Pat Masullo watched his son get up at 5 a.m. to work out at the YMCA in Bellefonte during the offseason.
“I would get up at 5:30 and I’d go look in his room and he’d be gone,” Pat Masullo said.
Masullo grew up pretending to be Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan while playing catch in the backyard.
“I can’t tell you how many games he’s pitched in the backyard as a little guy,” his father said.
Masullo was drawn to Ryan because he threw hard.
The Bellefonte right-hander had to learn it didn’t matter how hard he threw early in the season.
By the end of the season, Red Raiders coach Dan Fravel saw Masullo mature into a pitcher who trusted his teammates.
Masullo hit the high 80s with his fastball throughout the game and touched the 90s on the radar gun at times.
But he pitched to contact, finishing with five strikeouts.
“He knows he’s a better pitcher than they are hitters,” Fravel said. “And again, forget that, you got a great defense. I can throw (batting practice) and we could get 21 outs pretty quick with this defense.”
Masullo used his defense to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth inning.
With Bellefonte ahead 2-0, Masullo gave up an infield single to Jeremy Gismondi with one out. He then hit Jordan Caruso with a pitch and walked Joel Watts to load the bases.
The infield met at the mound, where catcher Greg Watson gave Masullo a familiar pep talk.
“I always say slow their roll down as soon as I go out there,” Watson said.
Masullo got back-to-back flyouts to end the inning and fired a fist pump in celebration.
He found himself in the same situation in the sixth.
Masullo stayed calm since Susquehanna Township had yet to find the gap against him.
With one out and the bases loaded, Masullo got ahead 0-2 and struck out Danny Warshawsky with a breaking ball on the outside corner. After getting ahead 1-2 against Caruso, the Bellefonte fans stood in anticipation of the next pitch. Masullo missed low, but struck out Caruso swinging to set off “Let’s go Bellefonte” chants.
“A lot of 18-year-olds when they went out there and they had the bases loaded with one out probably would have collapsed and folded,” Pat Masullo said.
The chants picked up again before the start of the bottom of the seventh inning.
And with two outs and runners on first and second, Garrett Reiter smothered a ground ball to second base and fired to first to put the finishing touch on Masullo’s day and Bellefonte’s state championship.
Said Fravel: “He’s a dominant pitcher no doubt.”