Connolly Drives In Championship-winning Run In 7th
MOOSIC — After not cashing in early in the day, Dallas was presented with a final scoring opportunity, and Jake Connolly was not about to let it pass by.
With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Connolly ripped the first pitch he saw off Scranton Prep reliever Vince Cimini for a single to left, scoring Darren Kerdesky with the game-winning run as Dallas won 2-1 for the District 2 Class 4A title.
The win gives the Mountaineers their second district title in the last three years and sends them to the state playoffs where they will face the No. 2 seed from District 3, to be determined Thursday.
“I just wanted to drive the ball in the outfield somewhere,” said Connolly, who picked the perfect spot for his only hit of the game. “It is amazing. There is just no better feeling. I never would have imagined a thrill like this.”
Each team had chances throughout the game but could not capitalize. Scranton Prep left six runners on base, four in the final two innings. Dallas stranded eight runners through the first six innings.
“We were getting guys on base,” said Dallas manager Ken Kashatus. “We made some mistakes getting guys thrown out stealing. We just really couldn’t hit one well with guys on base until the end.”
Scranton Prep starter Jonathan Martens pitched the first six innings allowing three hits and one run. Cimini came on to relieve him in the seventh. He struck out Kerdesky, but when the ball skipped by the catcher, Kerdesky reached first. A sacrifice bunt moved him to second, Jake Shaver lined a single to left, and Mike Luksic was intentionally walked to load the bases. With the Prep infield in, Connolly jumped on the first pitch, ripping it down the left-field line to score Kerdesky and deliver the championship.
“We could have made it easier on ourselves if we got our bunt sequences down. We didn’t execute that well,” Kashatus said. “I thought that kept both teams in the game. Kudos to them for making plays in big spots.”
Alex Kapral started for Dallas and pitched five full innings before being lifted for Shaver with one out and two runners on in the sixth. Shaver shut the door the rest of the way to get the win. He allowed one hit and struck out four.
“Shaver had electric stuff,” Kashatus said. “He has been our third starter all year. It looked like he definitely wanted the ball. Kapral doesn’t want to be lifted in that situation. He told me that was the right call because of how good Shaver was today.”
Scranton Prep scored its only run of the game in the first when Cameron Kohut singled home Rocco Valvano. Dallas tied the game in the fourth when Zach Luksic tripled to center and scored on Freddie Lombardo’s infield groundout.
Scranton Prep’s best chance to score late in the game came in the sixth when it loaded the bases with two out. However, Shaver got a strikeout to end the inning.
Dallas improved to 17-6 on the year, and receives some sort of redemption after a crazy hop ground ball snuck through the infield in a 1-0 loss to Valley View in last year’s district final.
“Scranton Prep is a hot team with a lot of talent that you don’t want to run into this time of year,” Kashatus said. “We hung in there, and we hung in there again. Finally the pieces were set and Connolly puts it down the left field line.”
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