By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
NORTHUMBERLAND -- South Columbia had a difficult enough task, turning the tables on an Upper Dauphin team that had beaten them by 12 runs two days earlier.
A lightning delay was likely one of the last things on South Columbia manager Don Harris' wish list but his team has shown an ability to battle regardless of the circumstances.
That resilience led to a 7-4 victory over Upper Dauphin on Thursday after enduring a 1 hour and 44 minute delay for lightning strikes in the Northumberland area.
"The kids are resilient and they're great players and great kids," Don Harris said of his team.
The game was postponed at 7:01 p.m. with South Columbia holding a 7-4 lead with the bases loaded and no one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. The second meeting between these teams had already been a completely different story before the weather intervened.
South Columbia relied heavily on Dylan Harris on the mound to help and keep an Upper Dauphin team that had feasted on fastballs, off balance. Replacing Trystan Crawford in the first inning, Harris immediately went to work, limiting Upper Dauphin to two runs in the first. From that point on, it was only a matter of time before South Columbia's offense would match Harris on the mound.
Harris pitched six innings of relief for South Columbia limiting a high-powered offense which had out-scored opponents in the sectional tournament by a score of 34-4, to four runs, giving his teammates a chance to rip the ball on offense.
"We started off strong," Upper Dauphin manager Bryan Evans. "I give credit to South Columbia. They made some fantastic plays out there tonight in the field. Hats off to them."
Harris came back to the mound after the delay, showing no ill effects of staying off the mound for nearly two hours.
"Dylan throws strikes," Don Harris said. "That's what we need. He had six full innings today so he did his job."
After the long delay, Harris stepped into the batter's box with a chance to give himself extra breathing room on the mound. However, Upper Dauphin was sporting their rally caps and had one last gasp to stay in the game.
A force-out at home gave Upper Dauphin the first out as Harris reached on a fielder's choice. A strikeout and a pop-up in foul play allowed Upper Dauphin to escape the jam unscathed and motivate a team capable of stringing together big innings.
Leading off the sixth, Dylan Devlin blasted a solo home run to left to give Harris extra cushion to work with. Harris made the most of his chance to start after providing power off of the bench early in the tournament.
Harris and his defense had other ideas. Two long fly balls caught in centerfield put Mason Evans in the batter's box as the last chance for Upper Dauphin. A soft liner to short retired Evans and allowed South Columbia to celebrate a victory that had taken longer than expected.
Erasing memories of a 15-3 loss to Upper Dauphin in a winner's bracket game on Tuesday, South Columbia took the field ready to battle to keep their season alive.
A five-run third inning helped South Columbia to sweep aside a two-run deficit. Sending 11 hitters to the plate in the inning, South Columbia quickly turned the momentum in its favor and put Upper Dauphin back on its heels. A two-run single by Tanner Stout tied the game at two and Devlin singled home a run two batters later to give South Columbia its first lead.
A pair of walks with the bases loaded brought two runs in to increase South Columbia's lead to 5-2.
Upper Dauphin answered with two runs in the top of the fourth on back-to-back singles from Evans and Jesse Engle to cut the lead to one, but a fielder's choice at second base ended the threat.
Patrick Yost singled home a run in the bottom half of the inning to push the lead to 6-4.