Persistence paid off for the Squires of Delone Catholic in the District 3 Class 2A Baseball Championships, played on Ascension Thursday at Messiah University.
Up against the top-seeded and defending district champions from Camp Hill on May 26, the Squires stayed tenacious in a tug-of-war contest and capitalized on the Lions’ errors to claim their first district baseball title since 2013.
Delone jumped to an early lead in the top of the second on a low drive single by Aidan Wittmer, who went 4-5 on the day, and a sacrifice fly from Tyler Hillson. Camp Hill quickly responded, and eventually took a 3-2 lead. But Hillson, Delone’s southpaw pitcher, stifled the Lions from going ahead any further, forcing a ground-ball hit that turned into a Squire double play.
Tied at 3 in the top of the seventh inning, and with two outs against them, the Squires started their rally when Ryan Moore took first base after being hit by a pitch. A throwing error by Camp Hill on a grounder by Brady Dettinburn sent Moore around the bases and across home plate for the go-ahead. The Squires added to their lead with an RBI single from Myles Shearer to go up 5-3.
Relief pitcher Jake Sherdel sealed the game for Delone on Camp Hill’s last at-bats, and a foul pop-up to third baseman Trent Giraffa secured the third out when the Lions had the bases loaded.
“We started out the season 5-0, and we realized at that point that we could make a run,” an elated Giraffa told The Catholic Witness after the win. “It’s always been a goal of ours to win gold. It’s what we’ve been striving for all year.”
“Ryan took a hit for the team, and that was huge,” Giraffa said of Moore getting on base after a hit by pitch. “Everybody says, ‘Take the hit, we got ice, the pain won’t last,’ but you don’t always want to be the guy who takes the hit. But Ryan took one for the team, and that’s ultimately what got a runner on for us and put us in scoring position. Brady put that ball into play and we were good to go.”
After the 2-run performance in the top of the seventh, Giraffa pulled his teammates aside before the fielders disbursed for what became the final three outs. “I told them, ‘We scratched the runs that we needed. It won’t always be easy, but we got the runs we need, so let’s get three outs and it’s ours.’ I think that fired everyone up and got us going,” he said.
The Squires won their first-round game of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs on June 6. At the time of this article, they were preparing to enter the quarterfinals against District 11 champion Schuylkill Haven.
(Photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness