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March 28--First-year Delone Catholic baseball coach Doug Arnold stood drenched after his team doused him in an ice bath. The smile on his face said it all.
Behind Dalton Haymaker's complete-game, 12-strikeout gem, the Squires opened their season Thursday with a 9-0 win against Littlestown, giving Arnold a victory against the team he served as assistant coach for the previous four seasons.
"It felt pretty good," Arnold said. "Being the first game, obviously against the old team. It's a great way to start the season."
Haymaker and Littlestown starter Todd Cook were locked in a pitchers' duel through three innings before Delone got on the scoreboard.
With two outs in the top of the fourth, facing a full-count and the bases loaded, Joe Ames, the Squires No. 9 hitter, roped a fastball down the left-field line for a bases-clearing double, giving the Squires a 3-0 lead.
"I was just trying to get back from when I struck out with a guy on second in the second inning," Ames said. "I saw the ball well coming out of his hands and got to a full count. I just swung and hit it."
The bottom of the Squires order came through all game. The seven through nine hitters combined to go 4-for-8 with a double, three RBIs and three walks.
"They did a great job, and that is what we need," Arnold said of the bottom of his lineup. "Joey hitting in the nine hole is like a second leadoff hitter. He has great speed."
With a three-run cushion, Haymaker continued his efficient work of the Thunderbolts lineup.
"Those three runs helped Dalton," Arnold said. "It settled him down and let him go out and throw strikes."
"That was huge," Haymaker added. "I knew once I got one, I had my stuff today and I could trust my defense. They were behind me the whole time, so once we got the first one, I knew we had a good shot of winning."
Despite the cold and blustery conditions, Haymaker appeared in mid-season form. In addition to striking out 12 batters, Haymaker did not issue a walk, went to a three-ball count only twice and threw exactly 100 pitches.
"He was unbelievable," Arnold said. "That is what an ace is supposed to do. No stress innings, I don't think. That is why we let him finish. I don't know what else to say, it was pretty impressive."
In addition to locating his fastball all game long, Haymaker kept Littlestown hitters off-balance with his devastating curve ball.
"I just had to remember to throw it and not try to aim it," Haymaker said. "To be able to command it a lot and use the strike zone to my advantage. It was good to have command of it today."
Jimmy O'Boyle added an insurance run in the fifth, scoring Devon Craig on a triple to the right-center gap. The Squires got five runs in the sixth to put the game out of reach. With the bases loaded and no outs, Austin Kuntz drilled a 3-2 pitch to right field that scooted under the right fielder's glove, allowing all three runs to score and Kuntz to wind up at third.
"There was a lot behind this rivalry with Coach coming from Littlestown," Haymaker said. "I wanted to do my best to help him get a W."
Littlestown drops to 1-1 on the season, and despite the loss, head coach Todd Gantz said he was pleased with his starter's performance.
"Todd threw the ball very well," Gantz said. "He struggled in his first outing with throwing strikes, but he did a much better job today. (Delone) just had a couple clutch hits, and they had a couple balls fall where they needed to."
"(Haymaker) is one of the better pitchers we have in the league so you knew coming in you were going to have to grind it out. We did a decent job putting the ball in play, we just didn't come up with the clutch hit like they did."
The Squires made to the PIAA Class AA second round last year, and are showing no signs of step back despite losing six starters from last year's team.
"The chemistry this year is the same as last year," Haymaker said. "We lost a lot of very valuable guys from last year, but our underclassmen are really stepping it up."
Contact Mike Rubin at 717-817-5363.
Delone Catholic 9, Littlestown 0
Delone Catholic 000 315 0 -- 9 9 0
Littlestown 000 000 0 -- 0 5 2
DC, Dalton Haymaker and Austin Roth. LT, Todd Cook, Chase DiPietro (6) and Travis Henrie
SO-BB -- Haymaker 12-0, Cook 2-7, DiPietro 2-1; W -- Haymaker; L -- Cook; 2B -- Joe Ames, ; 3B -- O'Boyle;
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