NEWPORT — Aaron Bollinger watched as the final out was made at first base and threw his hands in the air as he was hugged by catcher Bryce Dalpiaz.
“It was just an amazing feeling now, knowing we are going to play in the state title game,” said Bollinger, who pitched two innings of relief and then needed to run to center field after the celebration to vomit because he had been sick the past few days. “I am feeling much better now.”
The same can be said for the entire Greenwood baseball team, which defeated Halifax 10-0 in five innings Tuesday in a PIAA Class A state semifinal game.
Greenwood, the District 3 champion, will now play District 10 champion West Middlesex for the state championship at 1 p.m. Thursday at Medlar Field at Penn State University.
The semifinal was decided in the first 30 minutes.
Greenwood starter Luke Myers struck out the first two batters before giving up a walk, but got another strikeout to end the inning.
Then Greenwood went to work.
Dalpiaz drew a leadoff walk off Halifax starter Blake Miller, and Myers followed with a single. Bollinger walked to load the bases, and when Aaron Morder was plunked as he squared to bunt, Greenwood was up 1-0.
Garrett Howell followed with an RBI single, and then Avery Morder delivered the early dagger with a three-run double to make it 5-0.
He scored on an error as Greenwood sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning.
“We knew that the game was going to come down to whoever got their feet grounded first,” said Greenwood coach Mark Sherman. “This is the best we have hit the ball in a long time.
“Normally we have been manufacturing runs, but today the kids came up and got the job done at the plate.”
Halifax got a runner to second for the second straight inning, but once again Myers let them stranded.
Myers led off the bottom of the second with a single and that chased Miller, who was replaced by Nathan Blasick. Bollinger followed with a single and those two came home on RBIs from Howell and Aaron Morder to make it 8-0.
Halifax got another baserunner in the top of third, but this time a 6-3 double play ended to inning. With the score 8-0, Myers’ day was over after throwing 49 pitches. That means Myers will be able to pitch Thursday.
“Me and coach talked for days on what would be the situation for me to get pulled so I could pitch in the state title game,” said Myers. “When we got up 6-0, I knew it was a possibility but I just wanted to keep going out there and doing my job.”
“You always hope there is a chance you can do something like that, but we needed to be focused on today,” he said. “We told the kids that this was our championship game, and that Thursday was no concern of ours.
“But when we got the big lead we knew we had a chance to have Luke pitch on Thursday.”
So with the lead, Sherman handed the ball to Bollinger.
“I knew there was going to be a chance I was going to pitch, and even with the fact I wasn’t feeling well, I was ready,” Bollinger said. “I just wanted to do anything I could to help my team win.”
Before Bollinger took the mound, Greenwood made the score 10-0 after three.
Halifax got the lead off batter on, but Blasick was thrown out trying to steal second. Miller then singled. but was involved in a inning-ending double play when a throw hit Miller and interference was called.
Greenwood was retired 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fourth ,and Bollinger got the first out before Halifax put runners on second and third. Bollinger then got his first strikeout of the afternoon before issuing a walk to load the bases. He then got a groundout to end the game, and send Greenwood to the state championship game.
“Baseball is just a weird game and anything can happen,” said Sherman. “But the guys just stuck to what we told them, and that is to take this game pitch by pitch and never leave anything get ahead of them.”
Now this band of brothers, as Sherman calls his team, is just one win away from winning a state title.
“This is just so amazing,” said Myers. “We had an up-and-down season, but when the playoffs came around we just started peaking at the right time.
“I would be lying If I didn’t say I thought it was possible, but this team is just amazing. We came together at the right time and now we have a chance to win a state title.”
CLASS A STATE SEMIFINAL
at Newport H.S.
GREENWOOD 10, HALIFAX 0, 5 inn.
Halifax`000`00 — 0-5-1
Greenwood`622`0x — 10-7-1
Blake Miller, Nathan Blasick (2) and Carson Huffington. Luke Myers, Aaron Bollinger (4) and Bryce Dalpiaz.
WP: Myers. LP: Miller.
Halifax: Bryce Ertter, double; Miller, single; Blasick, single; Tyler Berzowski, single; Dylan Wells, single.
Greenwood: Dalpiaz, single, 2 runs; Myers, 2 singles, 2 runs, RBI; Aaron Morder, 2RBI; Garrett Howell, single, 2 RBIs; Avery Morder, double, 3 RBIs.