York, PA - Dallastown baseball coach Don Trout began to consider his options Saturday in the sixth inning when third baseman Trevor Emenheiser limped around after a shoe spike struck him above his left knee cap.
"One thing I always try to do is err on the side of caution," Trout said after an 8-2 season-opening home loss to Mechanicsburg.
At the time of Emenheiser's injury, the visitors were amid a five-run inning to secure their win. He walked around, remained in the game and was bandaged up once the painful inning subsided. In the meantime, Trout and his coaches talked around their dugout about what to do.
One option was re-entering starting pitcher James Striebig, who's also a second baseman, and move Tommy Golden to third.
"Well he's been sitting on the bench freezing his butt off," Trout said of Striebig, a junior in his first year on varsity.
"I'm thinking, 'Now wait a minute, if I do that I'm putting in a cold pitcher in to play second base just for two innings. Why? Is it worth the risk? It just doesn't make sense."
The next option: move a new catcher over to third?
"But no, I think we're going to use him to catch the last two innings. That's the frustrating part," said Trout, lamenting what cold temperatures and wintry conditions have done to limit practices entering the opener. "It's a tryout."
Dallastown returns just three players from last year's YAIAA Division I championship team that finished 14-5. Or as Trout liked to say Saturday, "more like 21/2" when considering the low number of at-bats clean-up hitter Zach Luman received a year ago while contributing as a pitcher.
Luman started as the designated hitter Saturday, reaching base on his last at-bat, a leadoff single in the sixth. However, he returned to the mound and struck out four in two innings.
The other two returning starters were ahead of Luman in the Wildcats' lineup: junior leadoff hitter Robert Catchings, who walked twice and stole a base, and senior first baseman Matt Attig.
A bright spot for Trout in his team's season opener that felt like a glorified tryout was that its two-run fifth was sparked elsewhere. Catchings reached base with one of his walks to keep alive the rally, but it was Adam Deardorff's RBI triple from the No. 9 spot and Nick Sutton's groundout to short that scored Deardorff and cut the deficit to 3-2.
That deficit came quickly, as six of Mechanicsburg's first seven hitters reached base to open the game. With it, 3-0 was planted on the Dallastown scoreboard in center field for most of the game.
"Just getting that lead was so important for us," winning pitcher Parker Beatty said. "It gave us a ton of momentum."
Mechanicsburg -- also nicknamed the Wildcats -- was similar to Dallastown in the sense it had double-digit wins last season and lost at least half a dozen players from that team. But the momentum boost from a fast opening made the visiting Wildcats dressed in maroon look like veterans of the game.
Leadoff hitter Joe Hennessy, whose single started it all, finished 2-for-4 with two runs, a steal and an RBI. Beatty also got in on the offensive act with a two-run double in the sixth shortly after giving up two runs.
Beatty, who didn't face more than four Dallastown batters in an inning until the fifth, said fatigue began to hinder him in the later innings. Beatty exited with 95 pitches thrown in six innings. He struck out five and walked four.
MECHANICSBURG 8, DALLASTOWN 2
Mechanicsburg 300 005 0 -- 8 8 0
Dallastown 000 020 0 -- 2 5 2
Mechanicsburg, Parker Beatty, Ben Dubas (7) and Bobby Mentzer; Dallastown, James Striebig, Tyler Butcher (4), Zach Luman (6) and Max Naill, Cody Sommerville. SO-BB -- M, Beatty 5-4, Dubas 0-0; D, Striebig 5-4, Butcher 1-1, Luman 4-0. W -- Beatty (1-0). L -- Striebig (0-1). 2B -- M, Andrew Spanes, Dustin Daihl, Beatty, Joe Hennessy; D, Striebig. 3B -- D, Adam Deardorff.