TOWAMENCIN >> Daniel Sabath’s fastball arrived in a hurry for the start of the playoffs and Dock Mennonite’s defense didn’t wanna let anything by in a 5-0 victory over Bristol Tuesday afternoon.
In pursuit of a third straight district title, the Pioneers advance to Thursday’s District One Class AA final at Widener, to take on Devon Prep.
“When you’re starting the playoffs, you never know, you don’t underestimate anybody,” said coach Ed Melendez, who saw his top-seeded Pioneers dig out balls at short, lay down textbook bunts and still display the long ball when needed. “(Bristol) came to play. And I have to give credit to (their starter, Austin Funair), he held us a lot.”
Funair limited the Pioneers to just one run off of five hits in the first three innings, but then a fourth-inning double to deep center by Sam Gwiazdzinski, as Melendez put it, “broke the ice.”
“We started to establish the tempo, the momentum in how we play,” Melendez said.
With two outs and Gwiazdzinski at third, David Keller put a bunt down right along the first-base line, allowing him to leg out a single and score Gwiazdzinski for a 2-0 lead.
“I just had to put one down for the team and it worked out alright,” Keller said.
In the top of the fifth, fourth-seeded Bristol tried to get something going but Andrew Walters got in the way, making a tremendous stop deep at short and then throwing a strike to Justin Burkholder for the second out of the inning.
“I think overall we played really good defense,” Melendez said.
And Sabath got the Pioneers the start they wanted, recording all nine outs with strikeouts in his three innings and 49 pitches of work.
“Definitely fastball,” Sabath said of what was working best. “I was just trying to command it the whole time and they were swinging through it, so I just kept going with it.”
Keller pitched two and a third scoreless innings and then was behind the plate for Sabath and closer Nolan Bolton, who struck out the side in the seventh.
“They were throwing heat, hitting their spots,” Keller said.
The Pioneers added a pair of runs in the fifth off a double steal and an error, making it 4-0, and Bolton’s double to deep center drove in another in the sixth to cap the scoring.
A third straight district title — the last two in Class A and now this one in Class AA — could be on deck for Dock.
“It means a lot,” Bolton said. “It’s what we’ve been working for all year.”
Top Photo: Dock Mennonite’s Daniel Sabath winds up for a pitch in the third inning of the Pioneers’ District 1-AA semifinal against Bristol on Tuesday, May 23, 207 (Rachel Wisniewski/For Digital First Media).