MANDATA — Members of the Upper Dauphin American Legion team figured it was their turn for a stunning, come-from-behind victory.
Last season, Mifflinburg used a late rally in the Kip Snyder Memorial Tournament to defeat Upper Dauphin. Saturday, Upper Dauphin flashed its flair for the dramatics.
Connor Dietrich’s fielder’s choice with one out in the bottom of the seventh plated the game-winning run, capping a 2-1 win for Upper Dauphin (5-0-1) Saturday evening at Line Mountain High School.
“We rallied against them last year,” said Mifflinburg coach Shawn Cooper. “I guess this time around it was their turn.”
For much of the game, it appeared one run was going to be enough. That run only happened because of a gamble on the part of Cooper, who was coaching third base. Bryce Hauger drew a leadoff walk in the top of the fourth, and three pitches later, Bryce Koonsman laced a single to center field.
“Get here!” Cooper shouted to Hauger, who rounded second for third and beat a strong throw from Upper Dauphin center fielder Carson Barge.
“I knew if we didn’t gamble, we might not get anything across,” Cooper said. “The ball was directly behind Hauger, and I saw the third baseman flinch a bit.”
Hauger eventually scored on Josh Foster’s sacrifice fly, plating what figured to be the decisive run because — to that point in the game — Upper Dapuhin had shown zero life offensively, whether against Mifflinburg starter Tony Bennage or reliever Cade Dressler, who kept Upper Dauphin’s potent lineup in check.
“He’s something,” Cooper said of Dressler. “This is his first year with Legion. He’s 15. As he grows and adds velocity, he’s going to be something special out on that mound.”
Though it struggled to figure out Dressler, it was the top of the Upper Dauphin lineup that eventually broke through, when it was down to its final three outs.
“We only needed two runs; it didn’t matter whether they came in the first or the seventh,” Upper Dauphin coach Scott Dietrich said. “We preach to the kids about each game being seven innings, 21 outs. They used almost all of them today.”
Connor Zimmerman punched his third single of the game, then Ryley Novinger and Jarod Bingman each followed with singles, with Bingaman’s plating Zimmerman. Cleanup hitter Connor Dietrich hit with the chance to end the game.
He did exactly that, rocketing a ground ball to first base. The throw home for the play at the plate was there, but Novinger slid around Foster and touched home, setting off the Upper Dauphin celebration and preserving their unblemished start to Legion play.
Garrett Becker and Koonsman each had two hits for Mifflinburg (2-1) in the loss, with Dressler recording six strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings of work.
UPPER DAUPHIN 2, MIFFLINBURG 1
Mifflinburg`000`100`0 — 1-6-1
Upper Dauphin`000`000`2 — 2-7-2
Tony Bennage, Cade Dressler (3) and Josh Foster. Connor Dietrich, Jarod Bingaman (7) and Eli Smith.
WP: Bingaman. LP: Dressler.
Mifflinburg: Foster 1-for-2, RBI; Bryce Koonsman 2-for-3; Garrett Becker 2-for-3; Michael Warren 1-for-3.
UDA: Connor Zimmerman 3-for-4, run; Ryley Novinger 2-for-3, run; Bingaman 1-for-4, RBI; Dietrich 0-3, RBI; Carson Barge 1-for-3, double.