The Delone Catholic baseball team had countless opportunities through the first five innings to chip into the Bishop McDevitt lead on Monday afternoon but squandered each one.
The sixth inning was a different story, however, as the Squires erupted for 10 runs en route to an 11-4 victory in their season opener.
"Bishop McDevitt played well early on and we left a ton of a guys on base," Delone head coach Alan Felix said. "We had a very mature approach to comeback there. We just kept grinding each at bat. Nobody tried to do too much. We stayed within ourselves and finally in the sixth inning we got a couple of clutch hits."
Down 4-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Squires received a leadoff walk by senior Devin Altland, Delone's No. 9 nine hitter. A Brett Smith single gave Delone runners on first and second with no outs. Sam Stephan then singled up the middle to drive in Altland and pull Delone within two. After a double steal, the Squires had runners on second and third. Senior Austin Buckley proceed to crush a 3-1 fastball deep into the left center for a triple that scored both runs.
"I was just looking for a fastball," Buckley said. "I wanted something I can hit to score some runs. I wanted to stay in and through the zone and hit a line drive. With a 3-1 count, I am looking for something I can hit far. I just wanted to help out the team."
Delone sent 14 batters to the plate in the sixth, including another plate appearance for Buckley who, like his first at-bat of the inning, crushed a triple to nearly the same location and drove in another run to give the Squires 10 runs in the inning.
Reliever Devon Craig went out and sent McDevitt down 1-2-3 to give the Squires the win.
"We are a senior-laden team," Felix said. "It is the first time one of my teams is this far leaned in the senior direction. There is a lot of maturity and a lot of understanding the game and what it takes to win. We were able to pull it out today."
The second and third hitters in the Squire lineup (Sam Stephan and Buckley) combined to go 6-for-9 with five RBIs.
"It is important for the top of the lineup to make things happen," Buckley said. "We need to get guys on base. Brett is always going to do what he does which is get on base so we don't have to worry about him but it is important."
It appeared the story of the game would be missed opportunities for Delone, as it had runners in scoring position in the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings, but could not capitalize except for one run in the third.
Delone had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth but was only able to muster one run and then they had the bases loaded again in the fifth and was unable to push any runs across.
"We all believed in ourselves," Delone starting pitcher Dalton Haymaker said. "Everyone stayed confident. We just needed to convert on the opportunities we got. We knew that after a while we would get on their lefty because we were getting guys on base every inning so we knew eventually it would happen."
Haymaker threw a stellar 52/3 innings for Delone and battled through two Squire errors that led to three McDevitt runs.
"I thought he did a great job," Felix said. "He didn't walk many batters. "That is what we are looking for. Make them earn it and they did earn everything they got except for the errors we had and Dalton wasn't responsible for that. He did a great job."
Haymaker spent the offseason working on his pace on the mound and keeping his pitches down. The improvements were evident as he only gave up six hits.
"I worked a lot on trying to keep my front side and everything locked in so I could keep it down in the zone," Haymaker said. "I did a much better job with my composure. Last year I would get down on my teammates if they made errors but this year of maturity has helped a lot."
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DELONE CATHOLIC 11, BISHOP MCDEVITT 4
Bishop McDevitt 003 001 0 -- 4 6 1
Home 000 100 (10)X -- 11 15 3
Noah Spangler, Dan Fennessy (6), Austin Lescanec (6), Alex Repa (6) and Drew Myers; Dalton Haymaker, Devon Craig (6) and Austin Roth. SO-BB -- Spangler (6-5), Fennessy 0-0, Lescanec 0-2, Repa 0-2; Haymaker 3-1, Craig 0-0. W -- Craig. L -- Fennessy. 2B -- BM- John Brubaker, Repa, Marcus Gray; DC- Brett Smith. 3B -- Buckley 2.