Pennsbury Captures State Title With Walk-Off Win Over Dallastown

Pennsbury earned a 1-0 walk-off win over Dallastown to capture the program's first ever PIAA Class 6A state title. Photos provided courtesy of Donna Longacre. Check back for a gallery of photos.

STATE COLLEGE – It’s a play they’ll relive again and again.

Nick Price – with a 1-2 count and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning – hit a single to left that landed just over the infield.

“I just wanted to put the ball in play, get a hit and keep the inning alive,” Price said. “He got a pitch in on me and jammed me. I knew it was going to fall in because I didn’t hit it too deep.”

The hit was deep enough to prompt coach Joe Pesci to wave Justin Massielo home from second.

“I said it right away – we aren’t going to get another chance at this,” the Falcons’ coach said. “You saw what happened – we had first and third, one out and double play (in the fourth inning).

“I said, ‘If the ball goes to the outfield, we’re scoring.’ I don’t think Massielo was going to stop if I stopped him anyway.”

The Falcons’ sophomore shortstop never broke stride and just beat the throw to the plate, giving the Falcons the electrifying 1-0 walk-off win. And in a season that has had its share of fantastic finishes, this one trumped them all for it gives the Falcons their program’s first ever PIAA Class 6A crown.

“Oh my god, this is unbelievable,” Price said. “This is the greatest moment of my life. It’s tremendous.”

It was Price who found himself on the bottom of yet another jubilant dog pile near second base, and it was a celebration that seemed unlikely at best for the better part of seven innings. The Falcons had managed just one hit through six innings, and that one by Ryan McCarty didn’t leave the infield as sophomore Alex Weakland coaxed a steady diet of ground balls out of the Falcons.

“He pitched really well,” senior Dave Murphy said. “He was spotting his fastball, and he was getting us to ground out.”

Things looked even less promising when - after Billy Bethel led off the bottom of the seventh with a double down the left field line – the Falcons’ courtesy runner was picked off second.

“We battled,” Price said. “We’re a whole bunch of dogs as we like to call it.

“We chirp and have heart, and that’s the biggest thing. We have a bunch of heart and these guys are amazing.”

They also are resillient.

Massielo kept the seventh inning alive with a single to left, and he moved up to a second on Murphy’s groundout, setting the stage for an intentional walk to Ryan McCarty. With runners on first and second, Price delivered the game winner.

“It wouldn’t be a Pennsbury win if we didn’t keep it close,” senior Tyrone Hodges said. “I couldn’t be happier.

“Nick Price – he deserves it, he works hard. He’s a nice guy, and I’m happy that it was him who did it.”

The historic win wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the standout efforts on the mound of McCarty and Billy Bethel, who combined for the seven-hit shutout.

“All the hard work that we’ve done this whole year and even last year at the end of the season – it’s just paid off,” Bethel said. “It’s great for the program and great for this group of guys.”

“It’s incredible,” McCarty said. “We are playing with all of our hearts out there. We are leaving everything we have on the field.

“All night they had opportunities, but we were able to stop them.”

McCarty allowed five hits over the first three innings but escaped unscathed, making big pitches when it mattered most. The Wildcats stranded runners on second and third in the first, a threat that ended with a clutch strikeout by McCarty.

Tracy Carr led off the top of the second with a line single to left, but he was erased on a short-to-second-to-first double play. In the third, the Wildcats stranded two more runners with McCarty once again coming up with a huge strikeout and right fielder RJ Huth recording the third out on a running catch of a foul ball.

“Ryan didn’t have his best stuff today, but he knew how to get outs,” catcher Josh Tesarck said. “He would get ground ball double plays. He was just incredible.”

After McCarty walked the leadoff batter in the top of the sixth in a scoreless ball game, Pesci called on Bethel to close it out.

“I said to Billy right away, ‘Do what you do, man,’” the Falcons’ coach said. “There’s nothing else to say.

“We’ve been together 70-some games. There’s nothing else to say.”

Bethel threw two scoreless innings, and when Price delivered the clutch two-out hit, the historic win was in the books. Pennsbury closed its season with 13 straight wins, bringing to a halt Dallastown's 20-game streak without a loss.

Pesci has a passion for Pennsbury baseball – Joe Pesci accepted a teaching position at New Hope-Solebury, but leaving the head coaching position at his alma mater was never a consideration.

“I can’t go anywhere else right now – I have such a passion for Pennsbury,” the Falcons’ coach said. “I’m so into trying to get Pennsbury back to where it was. We are there, and now we’re on top.

“It’s not about the title, it’s not about the wins. It’s really about the passion for the program. We had 101 kids at tryouts for three teams. I guarantee you next year it’s going to be similar or more.

“We have a such a great middle school program. We spend a lot of time in the community. People rally around us. I love Pennsbury. I live across the street. I left Pennsbury to teach at New Hope this year because it was a better situation for my family. There’s no way I can give up Pennsbury baseball. It’s been me except for when I went to college. I love everything about it.”

The Falcons – under Pesci - reached the pinnacle this year, capturing the trifecta with league, district and state titles.

Bethel in charge – It was appropriate that Billy Bethel was on the mound for the final two innings of the Falcons’ biggest game. The senior ace had not allowed a run in 43 straight innings and had been the Falcons’ ace all season.

Bethel allowed one hit and one walk while striking out one and extending his scoreless inning streak to 45.

“Billy unfortunately didn’t get to pitch in the district championship game,” Pesci said. “He’s been getting wins, but he didn’t get the chance.

“Well, he just got the win. If that kid is not the player of the year, I don’t know who the (heck) is because he is an amazing player. He’s just a phenomenal leader. You rally around him. I think the rest of the kids take on that persona.”

Bethel closed out his senior year with a 10-2 record and 1.19 ERA.

“Once I saw him walk in, I knew we had that win right there,” catcher Josh Tesarck said. “He doesn’t throw hard, but he knows how to hit his spots. His curveball is one of the best curveballs I’ve ever caught. He makes people chase them and just does his job.”

Senior Nick Price has been playing with Bethel since he was eight.

“Every time he goes out there he will fight and fight,” Price said. “He’s one of the best pitchers I’ve ever played with.

“He pounds the strike zone. He throws three pitches for strikes. I have confidence in everyone on this team, and if there’s one due I want on the mound, it’s him. He’s a great pitcher, he’s a great player.”

Rings and things – Nick Price’s name will go down in the history books as the player who drove in the run that gave Pennsbury its first ever state title. According to coach Joe Pesci, Price’s success is hard earned.

“We DHed for him a lot last year – he was a pitcher, third baseman, first baseman,” the Falcons’ coach said. “We started the season DHing for him, and he just worked and worked and worked, and he got stronger.

“He’s the kid that does everything you ask him to do. You don’t have to ask him to do stuff, and he does it anyway. Falls Legion, I think, has used him at all nine positions. You can teach parts, but you can’t teach that kind of passion to play the game and compete.”

--Winning a state title has been a goal of this Falcon squad for quite some time.

“It was kind of our fantasy at the beginning of the year,” junior Ryan McCarty said. “We always had our motto – ring fingers.

“We knew we had the heart, and we kept it within us. We knew what we were playing for, not just those (state championship) rings but our school and our community. We’ve never had a state title, and we just wanted to do the best we could for the school.”

“That was like a motivating force,” senior Dave Murphy said of the rings. “It actually started at the beginning of the year before we even thought we had a chance, before we even started playing. We just rolled with it. This is even better than I thought it would be. It’s just crazy, especially to win that way.”

“This was our goal,” Tyrone Hodges said. “To actually make it a reality – here we are.”

--Pennsbury is the first District One team since 1994 to win both the district and state title. Plymouth Whitemarsh won the Disrict One 3A title 1994 (3A was the large school classification), defeating North Allegheny 5-4 at Bowman Field in Williamsport.

Dallastown     000 000 0   0-7-1
Pennsbury     000 000 1   1-4-0
Dallastown (0) - Tye Golden ss 4-0-1-0; Nick Parker 3b 3-0-2-0; Bryant Holtzapple c 3-0-1-0; Joe Capobianco 2b 2-0-0-0; Peter Capobianco rf 2-0-0-0; Tracy Carr cf 3-0-1-0; Scott Geppi dh 3-0-0-0; Zach Ness 1b 3-0-1-0; Sean Reding lf 2-0-1-0; Alex Weakland p 0-0-0-0; TOTALS 25-0-7-0.
Pennsbury (1) - Tyrone Hodges lf 2-0-0-0; Billy Bethel 2b 2-0-1-0; Justin Ward pr 0-0-0-0; Justin Massielo ss 3-1-1-0; Dave Murphy dh 3-0-0-0; Ryan McCarty p 2-0-1-0; Nick Price 3b 3-0-1-1; Kyle Dear 1b 2-0-0-0; Josh Tesarck c 2-0-0-0; Vaughn Ward cf 2-0-0-0; RJ Huth rf 0-0-0-0; TOTALS 21-1-4-1.
E-Dallastown 1. DP-Dallastown 1, PHS 2. LOB-Dallastown 8, PHS 1. 2B-Bethel. SB-Joe Capobianco, Sean Reding.
Dallastown     IP        H         R         ER      BB      SO
Alex Weakland (L)    6.2      4          1          1          1          2
Ryan McCarty           5.0      6          0          0          2          6
Billy Bethel (W)        2.0      1          0          0          1          1