One look at Greenwood’s run through the postseason and it would be easy to think the Wildcats’ success has been due to their pitching.
The Wildcats have allowed nine runs in five Class A postseason games — three on their way to a District 3 title and two in the state tournament — and won their first state playoff game with a no-hitter.
Greenwood coach Mark Sherman, though, would be the first person to tell you that line of thinking is wrong.
“You don’t get great pitching if you don’t have great defense behind you,” said Sherman. “We have played great defense all postseason.
“The defense has been amazing.”
One of the cornerstones of that defense has been shortstop Aaron Bollinger, who also combined with Luke Myers for that no-hitter last week against Old Forge.
“When I play shortstop, I knew there is a lot of pressure on me,” said Bollinger. “I take a lot of pride in it.”
Bollinger showed off his range Thursday as he made some key plays in the Wildcats’ 4-3 win over Montgomery in a PIAA Class A quarterfinal. Those plays were in the midst of 10 straight outs to end the game.
“Coming up with plays like that are important in close games,” said Bollinger. “Solid defense wins championships.”
That defense also has an impact on a team as a whole.
“When we make a big play, it really gets the team pumped up,” said Bollinger. “We really feed off it.”
“The whole team gets energized when we are playing solid defense,” he said. “Good pitching and good defense wins titles.”
The Wildcats hope that continues as they take on a familiar foe Monday at a familiar place in a state semifinal.
The game will be a replay of the District 3 Class A title game between champion Greenwood (17-8) and runner-up Halifax (17-8), and will be played at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Newport.
Halifax won the two regular-season games 17-6 and 4-0, but Greenwood won the district title by the score of 8-3. Greenwood won its three district games by a combined 37-6.
Greenwood continued to fire on all cylinders in the state playoffs with a 9-0 win over Old Forge followed by the 4-3 win over Montgomery, which gave them their first taste of adversity in the playoffs.
“We haven’t been behind in a long time,” said Myers, “but we responded rather well.”
Myers and Bollinger have been solid on the mound, with Myers going 9-1 this season with a 1.69 ERA.
Greenwood has not been all defense and pitching in the postseason, as it has put 50 runs on the board in five games.
Bollinger and catcher Bryce Dalpiaz are Greenwood’s leading hitters along with Aaron Morder.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be in the state semifinal,” said Bollinger. “Until this year we never won a state game, and to get this far is just amazing.”
Halifax comes into the game with close wins over Faith Christian (5-4) and St. Joseph’s (3-2) in the first two rounds of the state playoffs.
Nathan Blasick does it all for Halifax. Blasick is batting .486 and has a 1.31 ERA. He pitched a no-hitter against Greenwood on April 25. Blake Miller is second in both categories with a .342 average and a 2.09 ERA.
The winner will play for the state title Thursday at State College against the winner of West Middlesex and Bishop McCort.