Trojans get revenge, win district title
It is said that revenge is a dish best served cold, but in the stifling heat of Coca-Cola Park last week, the Parkland baseball team got its revenge. In a game that featured four errors and fifteen walks, the Trojans defeated rival Whitehall 5-2 to win the District 11 Class AAAA championship for the first time since 2009.
Starting pitcher Tyler Duff went 4 1/3 innings, striking out one and walking seven while getting the win.
"I just had to get in a rhythm, I knew my team was behind me and they gave me good run support early on," said Duff. "This was the biggest game of our careers here, so I just had to take it slow, enjoy it, and make the right moves."
Senior captain Tyler Graeff, headed to Miseracordia next fall, knew just how big this game was for him and the other seniors.
"This means a lot," said Graeff. "We've been through so much together. We lost in the first round the last two years, so it feels good to come back and win, especially against Whitehall."
The Trojans lost to Whitehall just two weeks ago in the LVC title game, but they put that behind them at the most important time. Parkland scored one in the first of a Graeff double and followed up with one in the second, and two in the third.
Walks and errors kept Whitehall close, but in the end the Trojans pitching and timely hitting proved to be too much. Alex Flynn scored a vital insurance run in the seventh off a wild pitch. Connor Higgins pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Duff and shut the door on the Zephyrs.
"The seniors, this is the first time they've played for a district championship," said Parkland head coach Tony Galucy. "There's only seven of them on the team, this is a real close team," Galucy added. "I said to them in the huddle before the game, 'You guys have never complained, never whined about playing time. We've switched guys in and out. We lost leagues as a team, and we're going to come out winning tonight as a team.' This is a great group of kids; I'll tell you that much."
Tyler Duff agrees.
"I can't even talk enough about what it means, especially after last year when we went one and done in LVC's and Districts," said Duff, who improved to 8-0 on the season. "We've been fighting for this the whole year. We're not a team; we're a family. Everyone works together, we're one unit, and it's just phenomenal to see everyone so happy."
Beating rival Whitehall made the win even more satisfying.
"We lost to them three times," said Graeff. "We came out with real intensity."
"It's huge," said Coach Galucy. "We got here in 2010 and lost. This is the one we wanted. We said 'You know what guys, we have to suck it up. Two more weeks and nobody will ever remember that we lost the league championship, and here we are.'"
The Trojans played with the kind of grit they showed Wednesday all season, and when they needed big outs and big hits, they seemingly got them all season.
"We weren't pretty this year," said Galucy "We didn't score a whole lot of runs. We may not have hit real well, but whenever we needed something done they did it."
Despite walking 10 batters in the district title game, the Trojans got big outs and big hits to bring home the District XI AAAA Baseball Championship.
For seniors Brandon Evans, Aidan Flynn, Damin Muth, Jordan Jones, Adam Schneck, Tyler Graeff, Tyler Duff, and Nate Case, this win means everything.