Dallastown's Zach Luman had his trust in his teammates tested during a shaky seventh inning Friday at South Western.
After pitching six innings for a three-hit shutout, the Wildcats' ace hit his weekly innings limit -- Monday's eight-inning performance at New Oxford prevented him from completing a gem. Instead, he turned the game over to the team's closer, Tanner Forry, and watched anxiously as his teammate walked the bases loaded without an out.
"I trust my teammates," Luman said. "I'm not going to lie, that was a little nerve-wracking, but I knew they'd get out of it."
Forry might not have been his old, reliable self, but James Striebig kept Luman's trust golden. South Western broke the shutout with a sacrifice fly, but Striebig snuffed out the rally with a strikeout and a harmless grounder to second, securing the 3-1 victory.
A few weeks ago, the Wildcats were focused on building confidence and chemistry, now they control their own destiny. With Friday's decision, South Western (5-4, 9-5 YAIAA Division I) picked up its fourth YAIAA I loss. Red Lion, Spring Grove and Dallastown (8-3, 9-5) each have three.
"This was a must-win for us, being in first place and South West right behind us," Luman said.
The Mustangs stuck tight through three innings with Luman's counterpart, Chris Mills, working out of jams in each. In the fourth, Kevin Ludwig nearly took Mills' head off with a one-hopper over the mound that went for a single. Cody Somerville's hit advanced Ludwig to second, and Trevor Emenheiser drove in the first run on a line-drive double to the left-center gap.
The Wildcats extended the lead to 2-0 in the fifth when a groundout by Nick Sutton scored Matt Attig. In the sixth, Emenheiser struck again with a bomb to left-center that one-hopped the fence. He later scored on a sacrifice fly by Forry and finished 3-for-3.
"Trevor's been hitting the ball on the screws a lot lately," Dallastown assistant coach Casey Markey said. "He's been on the ball. He works hard, and I'm really proud of him."
Attig and Luman also had two hits apiece.
Mills left after giving up his second run in the fifth, striking out four while allowing eight hits and a walk. Luman continued his dominance until his last pitch. In the fifth, he struck out two, bringing his total to three, and retired his seventh straight batter with a perfect sixth inning.
"Honestly, my curveball wasn't working today, so I just had to paint my fastball on the corners, and that's what I was doing all day," he said, explaining his success.
In the seventh, Forry quickly walked Brandon Utz. Tyler Sterner forced him to throw seven pitches before taking his free pass, but a final four-pitch walk spelled trouble.
"Tanner's been money in that role all year, but tonight he just didn't have it," Markey said. "James Striebig came in and took care of it for us."
South Western coach Mike Resetar wanted more urgency but appreciated the final push.
"When you go into games with a district-type atmosphere with quality opponents day-in and day-out, you certainly know you have to come out and play," he said. "We have to continue to play baseball the way we're supposed to." We knew we had a great team, we haven't all played together for a while, but we knew we had what it takes.
DALLASTOWN 3, SOUTH WESTERN 1
Dallastown 000 111 0 -- 3 9 0
South Western 000 000 1 -- 1 3 1
DT, Zach Luman, Tanner Forry (7), James Striebig (7) and Cody Somerville; SW, Chris Mills, Nick Harris (5), Kyle Raubenstine (6) and Brandon Monahan. W -- Luman. L -- Mills. SO-BB -- Luman 3-0, Forry 0-3, Striebig 1-0. 2B -- SW- Matt Taylor; D- Luman, Trevor Emenheiser 2.