Bottom of Springdale's order delivers in victory
Too often this season, Springdale sophomore Dante Mahlmeister found himself pulling his head and looking down the third-base line before his bat made contact with the ball.
With the sloppy batting mechanics came a slump. His frustration at the plate disappeared Friday afternoon at Oakmont's Riverside Park as Mahlmeister kept his eye on pitches, and in a welcome change, made everyone else in attendance stare out toward the left foul pole.
A three-run double to deep left field in the top of the second inning and an RBI single to the same part of the field in the sixth showcased Mahlmeister's potential as a slugger during Springdale's 6-3 road win over Section 4-A rival Riverview.
Mahlmeister, the No. 8 hitter in the lineup, and others in the bottom half of the order for Springdale (5-6, 5-2) provided the offensive highlights, and pitcher Alex Demonte anchored the Dynamos' effort to shut down the Raiders (9-4, 4-4).
“I knew I could hit,” said Mahlmeister, who finished 2 for 3 with four RBIs. “I was just struggling and looking for a couple breakthroughs.”
Between Mahlmeister, shortstop Alex Pane and catcher Mike Banachowski, the sixth, seventh and eighth hitters in Springdale's order went 8 for 11 and drove in all of the team's runs. The rest contributed three hits, two of which came from cleanup hitter Adam Lock, the hero of Springdale's dramatic 11-10 win over then-unbeaten Riverview on April 17 — Lock hit a walkoff grand slam in the eighth inning.
“The bottom of the order today was unbelievable,” Springdale coach Randy Eaton said. “Adam Lock, you expect him to get a few hits. Alex Pane, you expect him to get a few hits. But Dante Mahlmeister, you don't expect him to drive in four runs and hit a double and a single.”
With his team ahead 4-0 through one and a half innings, Demonte kept Springdale's momentum going with his efficient pitching. He did not surrender a hit until the bottom of the fourth and finished with a complete-game four-hitter with six strikeouts and two walks.
Riverview hit three singles and scored its runs in the final two innings to cut Springdale's lead.
“After Lock hit that walkoff grand slam, you could tell and knew they were mad at us,” said Demonte, who shrugged at the significance of his outing against the Raiders. “There's always pressure. You have to learn how to deal with it. That's what defines a pitcher: How you deal with pressure and do in certain situations.”
Springdale trails section leader North Catholic (6-6, 6-1) and is scheduled to meet the Trojans on Tuesday. Riverview can finish no better than second. Riverview, which started the season 9-0, continues to perplex coach Rich Griser with its skid.
“It's like we're snake-bit,” Griser said. “Ever since that grand slam, we haven't been the same team. I'm not saying that was the key moment, but it appears that's when we started our little slide.
“We've turned into another team. It's like Jekyll and Hyde. And it's hard to pinpoint a specific reason. I think it's just a combination of things that has fallen on our team, and we have to find a way to get out of them.”