DILLSBURG — For four-and-a-half innings Monday night, it appeared like Mechanicsburg’s magical run through the Cumberland County Legion Championship was going to force another game the next evening against Dillsburg.
Coming out of the loser’s bracket, Mechanicsburg Post 109 needed to win on back-to-back nights to claim the county title.
But the magic disappeared along with Mechanicsburg’s 4-3 lead as Dillsburg Post 26 took home the trophy with an 8-4 victory at Wolfe Field.
The bottom of the fifth made the difference for Dillsburg.
Ensor and Marovich singled, and Nick Yinger plated the equalizer at 4-4 with a ground ball the second baseman couldn’t handle. After an intentional walk to Tommy Molusky, left fielder Alec Welshons delivered a single up the middle which would prove to be the game-winner.
The hit chased Zercher from the mound, and Kirk Patti greeted reliever Mat Flaherty with another single to give Dillsburg the 6-4 lead. Post 26 tacked on two more runs for the final tally.
“Most of the season we played with nine, 10 guys, so everybody was getting in,” Dillsburg head coach Jake Warner said. “But for us, everybody put the ball in play. Everybody had their chance, and everybody hit.”
Dillsburg grabbed the early lead, jumping on Mechanicsburg starter Sam Zercher for two first-inning runs. After a four-pitch walk to leadoff hitter Bryce Andrews, second baseman Owen Kitts drilled a hanging curveball over the centerfielder’s head for a stand-up triple. Kitts came home on an RBI groundout from cleanup hitter Tanner Marovich to give Dillsburg the 2-0 advantage.
Those two early runs looked like it would be more than enough for Dillsburg starter Eddie Ensor. who cruised through the first two frames. But the southpaw ran into trouble in the next three innings as Mechanicsburg scored in each frame to take a 4-3 lead. Kyle Hellam and Will Hoover came through with two-out RBI base hits for Mechanicsburg in the rallies.
Ensor went six innings for the win for Dillsburg, scattering seven hits, walking one and striking out five. Zercher collared the loss but went 3-for-4 at the plate with a run scored in the losing effort.
Both teams previously secured spots in the Region 4 tournament in Ephrata which begins Friday.
“We are all excited,” Zercher said. “Last night, when we realized we qualified for regionals, everybody was hyped. We’re ready to go. Any time you have a chance to play for something more, you have to seize it.”