By Nate Johns, NEPA Sports Nation Student Journalist
STATE COLLEGE – The Dallas Mountaineers were the only baseball team from District 2 to advance to the state finals this season, but their playoff run came to an end with a 7-1 loss to Bellefonte in Saturday afternoon’s Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 4A championship game at Penn State’s Medlar Field.
The potent Mountaineers lineup was stifled by Red Raiders pitcher Dominic Capperella, who tossed a complete game, allowing only one run, giving up six hits and two walks while striking out five.
“We faced off against a really good pitcher,” Dallas coach Mike Viglone said. “Hats off to him, he beat us today.”
The Red Raiders lineup helped out by scoring seven runs on nine hits, adding two walks and only striking out once.
“They don’t strike out a lot,” Viglone said. “They’re a good hitting team one through nine.”
Viglone said he wanted to remind his players what a special season they just had. They won seven straight prior to Saturday, including three in the District 2 playoffs and three in the state tournament.
“Obviously now they are disappointed, but this is something they will remember for the rest of their lives,” Viglone said.
The Red Raiders offense was led Levi Purnell, who was 2-for-2 with three RBIs and a sacrifice fly. Trevor Johnson, a Duke recruit, also added two doubles. Triston Heckman added two RBIs.
Dylan Geskey had the only RBI for the Mountaineers, driving in Zach Paczewski, who went 1-for-3 and added a walk.
The first inning was action-packed.
Paczewski started it with a one-out single, and Geskey drove him in for the first run with a single to center field.
The Red Raiders wasted no time answering back. Johnson launched a double off the right-field wall, and Peyton Vancas added a single to put runners on the corners with no outs. A wild pitch tied up the game, and two batters later, Heckman hit a sacrifice fly to center making it 2-1.
Caperella had a quick second inning with two strikeouts. Sam Barrouk responded with a scoreless inning of his own, stranding two Bellefonte runners.
The Mountaineers got two walks to put two on with one out to start the third, but Capperella came up back-to-back outs, ending the threat with a strikeout.
The Red Raiders loaded the bases with a walk, hit batter and a single in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Purnell drove a ball to right-center for a two-run single. Purnell stole second, which allowed Braedyn Kormanic to score when the throw went into the outfield, making it 5-1 after three.
The Mountaineers got a one-out single for J.J. Rischawy to start the fourth, but were unable to capitalize. The Red Raiders also stranded a runner after a Josh Brown lead-off single was followed up by two fly outs and a strikeout.
Mikey Timinski and Gavin Adamski attempted to start a rally for the Mountaineers in the top of the fifth, but Capperella retired the next three batters.
Heckman started the bottom of the inning with a double, and, after a walk, a sacrifice bunt put two runners in scoring position. Purnell added another run via a sacrifice fly.
Capperella had a 1-2-3 sixth capped with a strikeout.
“Throughout this playoff run, I’ve definitely been working with a lot of sliders,” said Capperella, a senior lefty. “I’ve been getting a lot of swings and missed with it.
“Today, I worked in a lot of changeups that started out at the knees, then dived down to the feet. I was throwing my two-seam fastball on the outside part of the plate. They were standing off the plate and it was hard for them to reach it.”
Johnson knocked his second double of the game and a fielding error and intentional walk loaded up the bases with Red Raiders. Heckman drove in another run with a sacrifice fly, making it 7-1.
After a lead-off hit by Dominick Zangardi in the seventh, Capperella retired three straight to end the game and secure the state title for the Bellefonte Red Raiders.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Tom Robinson also contributed to this report.