---- — By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
NORTHUMBERLAND -- Upper Dauphin's offense was firing on all cylinders.
Upper Dauphin scored 15 runs on 19 hits in a 15-3 victory over South Columbia in the Section 3 9-10 tournament at Acorn Park on Tuesday.
With their offense clicking in high gear, Upper Dauphin's ability to win came down to pitching and unfortunately for South Columbia, Upper Dauphin's arms were working as well as its bats.
Upper Dauphin showed that the 19 runs it scored against Wellsboro on Monday was not a fluke, hanging 15 on a South Columbia squad that battled in its first win over Keystone on Monday.
"Our offense has been on fire," Upper Dauphin manager Bryan Evans said.
Evans added that he felt his defense played well, saying that its carried Upper Dauphin this season.
With two outs in the fourth, Tyler Cleveland threw off Eli Morrison's timing at the plate for a strikeout to finish off a victory.
Although it was only one pitch -- albeit the one that ended the game -- Cleveland's strikeout was a microcosm of the whole game.
Upper Dauphin kept South Columbia off balance on defense and pounded out hits relentlessly during its time in the batter's box. Scoring at least two runs in every inning, Upper Dauphin quickly built a lead and established control of the game.
Hitting well allowed Nathan Wise to look up at a five-run lead before he took the mound to throw his first pitch of the game. With the way that Wise pitched, the first-inning scoring would have been more than enough. Over 3 2/3 innings, Wise struck out five while only running into trouble in the third inning but rebounded to get within one out of a complete game before Cleveland took over.
Upper Dauphin's approach of swinging hard and early in the count did not allow Patrick Yost to settle into a groove on the mound for South Columbia, leading to a five-run first as 11 batters came to the plate.
Seven hits in the frame, including two singles from Wise, set the tone for the rest of the game. Wise finished a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate, adding to his performance on the mound to help his team to a win.
"Nate's been solid for us all year," Evans said. "For a 9-year-old ... he throws very hard."
Upper Dauphin added two runs in the second, hitting balls into the gap and also legging out infield singles to keep the pressure on South Columbia's defense. Jacob Herman helped Upper Dauphin put two more runs on the board, with Wise and Herman each collecting their third hit of the game. South Columbia escaped a bases-loaded two-out jam without further trouble to keep hopes alive for a comeback.
South Columbia carried its momentum into the bottom half of the third, bringing three runs across to stop a shutout for Upper Dauphin. The first six base runners reached safely to scratch across the three runs before Wise retired Zach Burkland and Tanner Stout to end the inning.
The three-run third inning was one of few bright spots in the loss for South Columbia.
"We're going to go in there tomorrow and we're going to play better," South Columbia manager Don Harris said.
Six runs in the top of the fourth inning helped to seal the win for Upper Dauphin.