Today was a lovely day — sunny, blustery, temperatures right around 50 degrees — so there was no reason to spend it inside. This was far cry from last Saturday when we had snow flurries, and so I took advantage of it.
I went to a baseball game.
My last baseball game was Game 2 of the National League Division Series, the 18-inning affair between the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants. Today’s baseball game was nothing so momentous, a high school baseball game between the Dallastown Wildcats and the visiting Mechanicsburg Wildcats. I’d looked up the schedule for the local high school about a month ago, saw they had one Saturday home date, and penciled it in as something potentially to do if the weather were good. I don’t know anyone who attends there, but that didn’t matter. Sometimes, you need to spend an afternoon in the sun and the springtime air while you watch a game of baseball.
The high school is about two and a half miles from my apartment, so I packed a backpack with a notebook and a towel to sit on (we’ve had rain the past few days) and at twelve I set off on foot. It was a lovely day; again, why waste it?
Dallastown, curiously, had American flags flying from every parking meter on Main Street.
I can’t think of any patriotic holiday that would call for American flags in early April, so all I can conclude was that they were put up for Easter. But the connection between Easter and the American flag escapes me entirely. I feel, at times, that I live in some alien land.
I arrived at the high school at about a quarter to one.
As you can see, there’s not a lot to Advantage Physical Therapy Field; yes, Dallastown’s baseball field had signs up for its corporate sponsor. Two risers behind the batting screen, a concession stand directly behind home plate, field level dugouts made of brick, a bullpen and batting cage on the third base side, an outfield wall in right field but none in center or left.
I found a good spot to watch the game from the hillside above and back of the first base line. Others arrived with folding chairs and made themselves comfortable about fifteen feet behind the first base line.
The crowd was not large. Between the risers and those of us along the first base side in the grass, the crowd probably numbered no more than sixty.
Dallastown came out onto the field wearing uniforms that reminded me a great deal of the Detroit Tigers’ with the blue-and-white color scheme and the calligraphic D on the uniform front, the pitcher took the mound, and at 1 o’clock (or very nearly) the game began.
Pitching for Dallastown was #21, Sam Deardorff, a right-handed pitcher. (My notes only have the players noted by their uniform numbers. Except for the pitchers, I’m not clear who played which positions. I got the names from researching the rosters after I got home.)
A quick strike to Josh Herring started the game, and three pitches later Deardorff had his first strikeout of the game. Next up for Mechanicsburg was Eric Herbein. He hit the ball sharply to short and Dallastown made what looked like a routine 6-3 forceout. The umpire, however, disagreed, and Herbein was safe at first. Batting third for Mechanicsburg was Jeff Allen; after 2 balls in the dirt, Deardorff threw over to first, and Herbein was called out. Mechanicsburg’s manager came out to argue, the conversation was heated, and the manager went back to the third base coach’s box. Two pitches later, Allen hit a fly ball to center, and the top of the first was over.
Thomas Heenan, #23, a right handed pitcher, took the mound for Mechanicsburg. Tye Golden led off for Dallastown, and he flew out to left.
Golden was followed by Nick Schuler, forced out at first on a 6-3 play. Next came Brandon White, and he flew out to center.
The second unfolded much like the first. In the top of the second, Marc Hershey hit into a 5-3 forceout as did Hayden Seig. Then Kodi Shatzer hit a comebacker to the mound, and Deardorff tossed over to first to end the inning. In the bottom of the second, Eric Morrison flew out to third on the first pitch, Cody Somerville was thrown out at first on a dropped third strike, and Riley Hamberger lined out to third.
Mechanicsburg struck first in the top of the third. Matt Cody hit a flare into right field that was misplayed on a diving stop, but he held up at first. Thomas Heenan, the pitcher, batted next, and he flew out to left. Joey Clawges stepped to the plate. And this is where things got interesting.
Dallastown pitcher Deardorff balked. He had two pitches before with Heenan at the plate, at least I thought he had, but the umpire didn’t call it. This time, the umpire did. Deardorff had an odd pitching motion. He would bring his hands up, pause, drop the hands, pause again, and then deliver the pitch. It was the stutter in the motion that didn’t seem right; he’d been using it throughout the game, but he also hadn’t had anyone on base. Now he did, and the umpire called him on the balk. That threw his rhythm off, and he adopted a more conventional motion after this.
On a 2-2 count, Clawges smacked a double into left (where there was no fence), and Dallastown’s left fielder gave chase. Cody came home, and Clawges stopped on second. Back to the top of the order, Herring stepped in and after down 0-2, he drew a walk. Herbein popped up the first pitch and was called out on the infield fly rule (the second baseman made the play), and then Allen grounded into a 6-3 forceout. Mechanicsburg stranded two.
Bryant Holtzapple started off the bottom of the third with with a comebacker to the mound and an easy out at first. Regis Maher hit a ground ball through the infield to left for a one-out single. Dallastown’s number nine hitter, Joe Capobianco, struck out on three pitches. Back to the top of the order, Tye Golden fouled off three pitches before driving a ball deep into left field, bringing home Maher on a double he stretched into a triple. Schuler hit a flare single into center, bringing Golden home, then White drew a walk on five pitches. Mechanicsburg’s pitcher came out to talk to Heenan, and he retired Morrison on a 5-3. Dallastown scored two runs on three hits and left two men on base, to take a 2-1 lead after three.
In the fourth, Deardorff threw a three-up, three-down top of the inning, and Heenan faced four batters, giving up a single to Riley Hamberger.
In the top of the fifth, Mechanicsburg had Josh Herring throw in the “bullpen” (essentially, the area behind the first base dugout). Matt Cody started the inning with a four pitch walk, then the pitcher Heenan, after attempting a sacrifice bunt, smacks the ball through the middle for a single that advances Cody to third. Brandon Diehl came out to pinch run for Heenan. Next, Clawges worked the count full then drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Herring struck out on three pitches, then Herbein hit the ball weakly to short, scoring Cody on a 6-3 fielder’s choice. Jeff Allen stepped in with men on second and third and two outs, and flew out to right. The game was now tied at 2 apiece.
In the bottom half of the inning, Heenan set Dallastown down in order. When he was pulled for a pinch runner, I assumed his day was done; I guess in high school baseball you can pinch run for people and you don’t have to take them out of the game.
In the top of the sixth, Deardorff faced Marc Hershey to start the inning, and Hershey drove the ball deep into left field on the second pitch, ending up on third. Hayden Seig popped up to second and was unable to bring Hershey home. Then, in Shatzer’s at bat, Hershey was caught in an attempt to steal home (a TOOTBLAN which I suspect was a hit and run play gone horribly wrong), and then Shatzer struck out.
In the bottom of the sixth, Heenan set Dallastown down in order.
In the top of the seventh — possibly the final inning, as high school baseball games only run seven innings — Mechanicsburg threatened. Cody reached based on a live drive to center, then Heenan bunted him over to second. Clawges drew a walk after being down in the count 1-2, and Herring popped out to first. With men on first and second with two outs, Herbein hit the ball weakly to third for what was sure to be a routine forceout at first, but the throw was wide and Dallastown’s first baseball was pulled from the bag, loading up the bases for Jeff Allen. But he hit a ground ball sharply to short and was easily thrown out at first, ending the inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, Dallastown also threatened. Riley Hamberger popped out to short, then Bryant Holtzapple dropped a ball into center for a single. Regis Maher hit the ball to short for a certain 6-4-3 double play, but a misplayed throw had him on first with two outs. Joe Capobianco drew a walk on four pitches, and, after a mound visit to Heenan by Mechanicsburg’s manager, Tye Golden flew out to right, ending the threat.
In the top of the eighth, Nick Schuler took the mound for Dallastown. After striking out Marc Hershey on three pitches, he gave up a four pitch walk ot Hayden Seig. Seig was erased at second on a bobbled double play attempt when Kodi Shatzer hit to short, and the half-inning ended when Matt Cody flew out to left.
Still pitching for Mechanicsburg in the bottom half of the eighth, Thomas Heenan set down Dallastown in order.
In the top of the ninth, after two quick outs, Schuler gave up a single to Josh Herring who was then caught attempting to steal second.
The bottom of the ninth started with Heenan still on the mound, and after giving up a single to Cody Somerville and a sacrifice bunt that moved him to second, Heenan was taken off the mound (and sent to play first) in favor of a new pitcher, right-hander Hayden Seig.
Seig then gave up a five pitch walk to Bryant Holtzapple, putting men on first and second with one out. Then on his first pitch to Regis Maher, Seig gave up a sharply hit line drive to right, sending Somerville around third to score a walk-off victory for Dallastown in extras.
Dallastown then ran out onto the field and dogpiled to celebrate their victory.
Dallastown 3, Mechanicsburg 2. WP: Schuler, LP: Heenan. Time of game: 2:10 (roughly). (Box score here)
I closed my notebook, clicked my pen, rolled up my towel, repacked my backpack, and walked back home.
It had been a lovely day for a baseball game. Maybe a little windy, but still nice. The trees weren’t blooming yet, but more 50 degrees like today and they should be soon.
My next baseball game? Next Sunday, April 12th, at Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg, as the Harrisburg Senators (AA affiliate of the Washington Nationals) take on the Altoona Curve (AA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates). My Senators 13-game plan tickets arrived this week, and that’s a post for another time.