When Dallas first played rival Lake-Lehman in baseball this season, the Mountaineers suffered an extra-inning loss.
In Tuesday’s rematch, the Mountaineers won without needing all seven innings, putting the game away early on the 10-run rule, 13-2, in five innings.
The games summed up the Dallas season as a whole.
The Mountaineers started 2-6, sinking to near the bottom of Division 2 of the Wyoming Valley Conference, dropping back-to-back, extra-inning games at one point.
“We weren’t very clutch for the first seven games,” Dallas coach Ken Kashatus said. “Every time there was a big play we needed to make, we didn’t make it.
“Now, we’re getting that hit, we’re making that key play, we’re getting on base. We’re doing everything better.”
Dallas climbed back into title contention with a three-game winning streak, which included one of the unlikely elements of the Mountaineers’ season. The first two of those wins were among the three the team produced against Division 1 competition.
While the rest of Division was going 3-20 against Division 1 in crossover games – which are part of the WVC standings – Dallas was going 3-3 to make itself into a contender that played for a chance to take over first place Wednesday afternoon.
Nigel Stearns helped make sure Dallas kept moving in its game with Lake-Lehman.
The Niagara University recruit got the pitching win and led the offense with four RBI.
Stearns walked seven in four innings, but he limited Dallas to two runs on three hits.
“He’s tough to hit if he’s throwing strikes,” Kashatus said. “His opponents’ batting average is good. His (earned run average) is good.
“He has command issues at times and sometimes that jacks up his pitch count earlier in the game than it should.”
Stearns overcame those issues with eight strikeouts.
At the plate, he was 2-for-4.
Dallas took advantage of Lake-Lehman mistakes in a five-run second inning, then put hits together to produce eight more runs and finish off the game early.
Justin Brojakowski and A.J. Sweppenheiser joined Stearns with two hits each. Chad DeBona, Domenic Oliveri and Pete Kuritz each drove in two runs.
Brojakowski, senior second baseman who bats fifth, is among the division batting leaders while helping Dallas break out offensively.
After being shut out twice early in the season and managing just five runs combined in 19 innings in the extra-innings losses, the Mountaineers have now scored 13 or more runs three times, including twice against Division 1 opponents.
Junior shortstop/pitcher Jordan McCrum and senior center fielder/pitcher Oliveri join Brojakowski in driving in runs from the middle of the order. Oliveri has three homers on the season.
Zach Brucher, who doubled, and Tyler Kolb, who drove in a run, each had two hits for Lake-Lehman.