PHOTOS BY JUSTINE LOOMIS
Dalton’s varsity baseball team celebrates winning the Division IV district title against Medina.
Dalton’s Jack Steiner
Dalton’s Will Carmichael and Talan Greegor
Dalton’s Brady Hignight
By ARIEL STAHLER
Gazette & News sports writer
Heading into the Division IV Medina district tournament, Dalton High School’s varsity baseball team knew what was on the horizon for them. To advance to the next level, the Dawgs would first have to get through Columbia and Hillsdale, both of which have caused problems for Dalton in past tournaments. They did exactly what was needed as the Dawgs defeated both teams to claim the district championship title and move on to the regional tournament.
No. 1 seed Dalton defeated No. 3 Columbia 4-3 in the district semifinal May 23 at Medina High School. The Dawgs were all too familiar with Columbia, as the Raiders had bounced Dalton from the tournament in past years. It appeared like Columbia was going to repeat that goal again when they led 3-0 after four innings. Things started turning in Dalton’s favor in the bottom of the fifth inning. Brady Hignight and Justin Basinger drove in back-to-back runs to bring Columbia’s lead down to one run. Basinger tied the score in the seventh inning with an RBI single. Jack Steiner followed up with his own RBI single to walk off with the win and propel his team to the district championship game. Seth Wyckoff was the winning pitcher. He gave up one hit, issued one walk and struck out three batters in 1 2/3 innings of work.
“Columbia is a well-coached team and tripped us up two years in a row,” said Dalton’s head coach Scott Huth. “I saw them play earlier in the week and, although I knew they were good, I didn’t think they were quite as good as they were in the past. They were actually still very good and they play hard and do things the right way. To finally get past them was a major hurdle for us.”
Dalton’s next test was against WCAL opponent No. 2 Hillsdale in the district final May 25 at Medina High School. The Dawgs won 3-1. Huth summed up all of his team’s accomplishments so far this season.
“We are now 18-8 on the season, WCAL champions, sectional champions and district champions,” said Huth. “What a great feeling and a great group of guys.”
Basinger drove in Dalton’s first run of the game when he doubled home Hignight in the bottom of the third inning. The Dawgs followed it up with two runs in the fourth inning. The Falcons scored one run in the fifth inning, but that was the only threat they posed. Wyckoff received the win when he recorded one run on five hits, three walks and five strikeouts.
“Hillsdale is a very scary team because they are capable of putting up a lot of runs in a hurry,” said Huth. “For us to beat them three times this season and only give up a total of three runs is a testament to our pitching staff and pitching coach Logan Swartzentruber. Our kids are playing so well defensively, and obviously our pitching staff, especially Justin and Seth, is coming though in a big way. We are doing just enough offensively to win and that’s all that matters, especially at this point in the season. It is exciting and awesome to see these guys, with only three seniors, playing so well and believing in themselves every night. I think they all have a very bright future.”
Dalton will play John F. Kennedy in the Region 13 semifinal June 1. Huth noted one of JFK’s strengths is its pitching staff.
“I don’t know a lot about JFK yet other than they have three or four really good pitchers who throw hard and are also able to mix in good off speed pitches,” said Huth. “I know they also have a really good catcher. We are going to have to play another great game fundamentally and not give them any free bases. We also need to find a way to put pressure on them with our speed and out the ball in play and make them make plays against us. It should be a great game.”
Bears win districts
The Golden Bears baseball team also is making its way through the tournament and is familiar with the road to the state championship. The Bears also were crowned district champs after their big 3-0 win over the Chagrin Falls Tigers. According to Waynedale Baseball on Twitter, the Golden Bears will take on Independence at Massillon Washington High School Ducky Schroeder Field at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 1 in the regional semifinals.