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Champions!: Falcons stymie Exeter, 1-0 to win district title

Posted 6/4/13

For the time since 2005, Lower Dauphin has won a district baseball championship.

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Champions!: Falcons stymie Exeter, 1-0 to win district title

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LDDistricts1 webPhoto by Daniel WalmerThe Falcons soared to victory on the arm of pitcher Marshal Kiessling in the District 3 Class AAAA championship game against Exeter Twp. on Thursday, May 30 at Soverign Bank Stadium in York.

Kiessling outdueled Exeter pitcher Ben Bortz for a 1-0 victory.

The win propelled the Falcons (19-5-1) into a PIAA first-round playoff game against Council Rock North (15-8) on Monday, June 3 in Fredericksburg.

“Marshall was on,” Coach Ken Kulina said. “The last couple of games we’ve been depending on Marshall and [semifinal pitcher Blair Lewis], and both of those guys are gamers, man … they give us a shot to win games.”

Kiessling gave up just two hits and struck out 10 batters in his championship game masterpiece.

“Marshall had some arm trouble earlier in the year, and we didn’t know if he was going to be able to pitch for us this year,” Kulina said. “Obviously, to get to this point, and experience this, it’s awesome for him.”

The game flew by in one hour and 20 minutes, as both pitchers limited the runners on the base paths throughout the game.

LDDistricts2 webPhoto by Daniel Walmer Lower Dauphin players display their District 3 Class AAAA championship trophy and gold medals to the crowd at Sovereign Bank Stadium in York after beating Exeter Twp. 1-0. Lower Dauphin got the first two hits of the game, with Kiessling beating out an infield single in the bottom of the first and Lewis, playing third base, following with a line drive to right field. But the Falcons were unable to drive either runner home.

Exeter shortshop Corey Rowley connected for the Eagles’ first hit in the top of the third, but Rowley also was unable to score.  

To supplement Kiessling’s superb pitching, the Falcons began throwing some leather at the Exeter hitters. Right fielder Jake Shellenberger made a diving catch in the bottom of the first, while third baseman Aaron Gentry and first baseman Luke Lingle combined on a spectacular play to turn away an attempted bunt single in the top of the third.  

Bunt attempts became more prevalent as the game wore on, with both teams resorting to small ball in a desperate attempt to plate a run.

Exeter’s Derian Sarlat bunted to begin the top of the sixth inning and dove toward the first base bag, but was thrown out by a hair. The Eagles would threaten with a runner on second base in the sixth, but Kiessling induced a groundout to end the frame.

It looked like the Falcons’ efforts in the bottom of the sixth would also be futile when centerfielder Jeff Light tried to bunt for a hit but was thrown out at first, and Shellenberger was retired on a fly ball.

But then, Lower Dauphin caught two-out lightning in a bottle.


Shortshop Kaylor Kulina started the rally by crushing a double into the left centerfield gap.  After Kiessling was hit by a pitch, catcher Deon Stafford hit what looked to be an innocent inning-ending grounder to second.  But the ball wasn’t fielded cleanly, Stafford beat out the throw to first, and Kulina came all the way from second to score the game’s only run.

“I was just sending [Kulina] all the way, hoping for a boot or a late throw or something like that, and he didn’t lose stride, he kept going,” said Ken Kulina, who was coaching third base.

kiessling6 5 13 webBy Jodi Ocker Lower Dauphin pitcher Marshall Kiessling struck out 10 Exeter batters to carry the Falcons to the district title. “Marshall was on,’’ said Coach Ken Kulina.Back on the mound, Kiessling made quick work of Exeter’s lineup in the top of the seventh. He ended the game with his 10th strikeout and was quickly mobbed by his teammates along the third base line.

Now, it’s on to the state playoffs for the high-flying Falcons.

“All I know is, we got to this point with a heck of a team effort, and our guys just keep fighting, man,” Ken Kulina said. “We’re proud of our school and our players and our staff.  We want to keep this going as long as we can.”

Lower Dauphin 6, McCaskey 2

Lower Dauphin had earned a less dramatic win during a Wednesday, May 29 semifinal round game in Fredericksburg, jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the bottom of the third and stifling the Red Tornado’s offense in the game’s second half to reach the district championship.

Lewis, the Falcons’ starting pitcher, wriggled out of a jam in the top of the second, then ignited the team’s offense with a leadoff single in the bottom half of the stanza.  Leftfielder Kyle Fails and Lingle followed with one-out base hits to load the bases, and Light singled home the game’s first runs, giving Lower Dauphin a 2-0 lead.

McCaskey responded in the top of the third with a double to the left-centerfield gap by Gregory Silvestrie, who moved to third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 2-1.

But the Falcons continued to have their way with McCaskey pitcher Lazaro Duvergel in the bottom of the third. Kiessling led off with a triple, and Stafford walked and stole second.  With one out, designated hitter Corey Atkins connected for a two-RBI single, increasing Lower Dauphin’s lead to 4-1.

After a double into the left-centerfield gap by Fails put runners on second and third again, McCaskey went to the bullpen, bringing in pitcher Jonathon Diaz in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Diaz calmed down the Falcons’ bats, but he threw two wild pitches, allowing Atkins and Fails to score and ballooning Lower Dauphin’s lead to 6-1.

Lewis then settled into a groove on the mound, allowing just one hit in the forth and fifth innings. McCaskey did score a run in the bottom of the sixth, but that was all they would get in the last two frames as Lewis preserved the 6-2 victory.

After the game, Kulina credited the bottom of his lineup for igniting the offense.

“We’ve gotten a lot of production from a lot of different guys,” he said.  “It was a great team effort.”

Daniel Walmer: 717-944-4628, or danielwalmer@pressandjournal.com

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