Dallas baseball wins 4A state championship

By Derek Levarse - [email protected] | June 16th, 2017 4:03 pm - updated: 8:33 pm.

Derek Levarse | Times Leader

VIDEO

To see video of Dallas head coach, Ken Kashatus, talk about his squad winning a PIAA title, visit the online version of this story.

STATE COLLEGE — It started with a long drive back from Hazleton.

It was April 28 and Dallas had just lost again, a 7-0 thumping by the Cougars, to fall to 2-6 in league play. The Mountaineers had plenty of time to think heading back home.

“Long bus ride back home. Silent bus ride back,” shortstop Will McCrum said. “And then everyone said that we’re capable of much more than this. Every game from then on was a must-win game.”

So they won them all. Thirteen in a row, to be exact.

Here they were, 50 days removed from that last loss, streaming out of the dugout at Penn State’s Medlar Field to celebrate a 5-0 victory over South Park in Friday’s PIAA Class 4A championship.

One of the area’s all-time great baseball stories ended with the Wyoming Valley Conference’s second state title, as Dallas joined Berwick’s 2008 squad in the history books.

“I’m happy we got it together. Winning a state championship is amazing,” said Mounts coach Ken Kashatus, who finished off his 15th season leading the program with a gold medals in districts and another one in states. “Especially here with my dad (John Kashatus), he won 50 years ago with the Ashley All-Stars.

“He thought we were going to win the district. And then we were in states, after we beat Athens (in the first round), he thought we were going to win states.”

With an all-around performance like this one, it’s no wonder.

Making his sixth start in seven Dallas playoff games, Nick Kocher turned in a masterful performance. The junior right-hander struck out nine in six innings of work, walking two and scattering six singles.

“By far (my best),” said Kocher, who also had two hits at the plate. “Just had everything going. Fastball. Curveball was breaking, throwing it for strikes. Change-up was breaking, throwing it for strikes. Felt good.”

Josh Lydon, making his 10th straight relief appearance, came on for a 1-2-3 top of the seventh to complete the shutout.

The game was scoreless through three innings thanks to some stellar Dallas defense — McCrum made a diving stop to prevent a run from scoring in the first and Drew Patton gunned down a South Park runner at the plate from left field in the top of the fourth.

Dallas struck in the bottom of the frame, taking advantage of some South Park miscues.

Mike Luksic reached on a wild pitch after a strikeout. Kocher singled. And when Mike Collins laid down a bunt, the Eagles quickly charged and tried to get the lead runner at third. But the throw was off the mark and Luksic was able to come home for the game’s first run.

McCrum (3 for 3) followed up with a liner right back at the pitcher for an infield single and an RBI, scoring Kocher for a 2-0 lead.

The Mounts added some insurance in the sixth when the Eagles once again threw to third on a bunt. This time it was a fielding error that brought home the run to make it 3-0.

Darren Kerdesky then ripped a two-run triple to right-center to give the Mounts a five-run cushion headed into the final frame.

“It looked like we were pressing a little bit today more than we were earlier in the week,” Eagles coach Steve Bucci said, referring to his team’s 10-run outburst in a semifinal win. “They played hard. Dallas just (made plays) at the right, opportune times. Cashed in on plays when they were giving up (an out) and turned it into two, three runs.”

It was something the Mounts had done all throughout their remarkable streak. In their seven games during the district and state tournaments, they scored 42 runs — exactly six per game — and hit .328 as a team.

The pitching staff, which didn’t have projected No. 1 Lee Eckert available to throw all season, gave up just 10 earned runs in those seven games for a 1.43 ERA.

But not injuries, not an early season swoon and not any kind of adversity stopped them from making history.

“It’s been an unbelievable ride from 2-6 to a state championship,” Lydon said. “It’s pretty unbelievable. But we never lost confidence as a team. We never panicked. We just went out there and we performed the way we should have, and the way we expected to.

“And now we’re champs.”

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PIAA Class 4A championship

Dallas 5, South Park 0

South Park`AB`R`H`BI

Bywalski ss`4`0`0`0

Morris cf`4`0`1`0

Thompson p-2b`3`0`0`0

Wagner 3b`3`0`2`0

Gray pr`0`0`0`0

Kentzel 1b`2`0`0`0

Moore rf`3`0`1`0

Jones pr`0`0`0`0

Roell lf`3`0`1`0

Vaughn 2b`0`0`0`0

Vaupel dh-p`3`0`1`0

Pantuso p`0`0`0`0

Groff c`2`0`0`0

Totals`27`0`6`0

Dallas`AB`R`H`BI

Kerdesky cf`4`0`1`2

Barrett 2b`4`0`0`0

Luksic 3b`4`1`0`0

Kocher p-lf`3`1`2`0

Collins rf`2`0`0`0

McCrum ss`3`1`3`1

Patton lf`2`0`0`0

Lewis lf`0`0`0`0

Kovalick pr`0`1`0`0

Lydon p`0`0`0`0

Mathers c`0`0`0`0

Giacometti dh`1`1`0`0

Huntington 1b`2`0`0`0

Totals`25`5`6`3

South Park`000`000`0`—`0

Dallas`000`203`x`—`5

3B — Kerdesky

South Park`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Thompson (L)`4.0`3`2`1`3`5

Vaupel`1+`2`1`0`0`0

Pantuso`1.0`1`2`2`1`1

Dallas`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Kocher (W)`6.0`6`0`0`2`9

Lydon`1.0`0`0`0`0`0

The Dallas Mountaineers storm Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on the Penn State University campus after defeating South Park 5-0 to win the PIAA Class 4A baseball championship Friday afternoon in State College.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/web1_DallasBB_2-3.jpgThe Dallas Mountaineers storm Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on the Penn State University campus after defeating South Park 5-0 to win the PIAA Class 4A baseball championship Friday afternoon in State College. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Dallas winning pitcher Nick Kocher strikes out South Park’s Bryce Groff. Kocher struck out nine in six innings of work.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/web1_DallasBB_3-2.jpgDallas winning pitcher Nick Kocher strikes out South Park’s Bryce Groff. Kocher struck out nine in six innings of work. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Dallas third baseman Mike Luksic reacts after catching a pop-up for the final out against South Park on Friday.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/web1_DallasBB_7-2.jpgDallas third baseman Mike Luksic reacts after catching a pop-up for the final out against South Park on Friday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Dallas’ Mike Luksic gives a thumbs up to the Dallas fans after scoring the first run.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/web1_DallasBB_5-2.jpgDallas’ Mike Luksic gives a thumbs up to the Dallas fans after scoring the first run. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Dallas climbs to state title with 13th straight win

By Derek Levarse

[email protected]

VIDEO

To see video of Dallas head coach, Ken Kashatus, talk about his squad winning a PIAA title, visit the online version of this story.

Reach Derek Levarse at 570-991-6396 or on Twitter @TLdlevarse

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