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Gov. Mifflin earns historic win in first round of PIAA baseball playoffs

Heading into the PIAA 5A baseball playoffs in search of their first victory at the state level, Gov. Mifflin refused to let the ghosts of its past alter its attitude moving forward.

“It’s not something that we preach to them because when you lose a county championship, you lose a district championship that pretty much smacks you right in the face,” Mustangs coach Chris Hole said. “So it’s not something you need to talk about, but it is something that keeps you damn hungry.”

Hungry indeed.

Gov. Mifflin showed up to the state tournament with resilience, as the Mustangs defeated District 12 runner-up Frankford 7-2 Monday afternoon at Shillington in a PIAA opener for the first state win in program history.

Gov. Mifflin was 0-4 in the PIAA playoffs heading into Monday with losses in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2021.

The Mustangs fell 10-3 to Wilson in the BCIAA final before losing 6-1 to Mechanicsburg in the District 3 championship.

“The word is resiliency,” Hole said. “When you lose and you get beaten in some of the biggest moments, on the biggest stages.m, it takes a lot of good men to pick themselves back up and go fight the next one. And that’s what we’ve been able to do and that’s what we did.

“We’ve been trying to bang down that door here since that time (2015). And this felt really good in a sense to do that for a lot of other great players that have come through this program that have helped climb the mountain to get to this point.”

Gov. Mifflin (21-5) put on a well-rounded performance from start to finish against the Pioneers (14-5).

Senior Dante Casantini went 2-for-2 with an RBI triple, a double and two runs scored to lead the Mustangs, and junior and Berks Player of the Year Bryce Detwiler pitched a complete game on the mound and hit a home run.

With the win, Gov. Mifflin advances to face District 11 champion Whitehall on Thursday with a site and time to be announced.

“We had to come into the game with the expectation that we’re going to play the best team in Philadelphia,” Casantini said. “We didn’t know much about them, but we had to come out and have good at bats, throw strikes and play defense; that’s our approach for every game.”

In the bottom of the third with a 1-0 lead, Casantini hit a liner down the right field line that scored a run before coming home moments later after a wild pitch. In the fourth, he hit one down the left field line and later scored on an RBI single by Bryce Wunderlich to make it 4-0 in the fourth.

For Casantini, a recent change in his batting stance has proven beneficial.

“Coach (Hole) has really helped me with my stance,” Casantini said. “I changed it a little bit, I was open and now I’m closed. So I had pretty good success with that today so let’s stick with it and keep working at it.

“It does work because now that I’m not open, I’m not stepping out, I’m stepping towards the pitcher more and it allows me to hit the outside pitch better.”

In addition to his recent hitting surge, Casantini also fielded a hard-hit ground ball at first that started an inning-ending double play in the top of the first inning. The Mustangs committed one error in the second and ended the game with two.

“We tweaked his stance the other day, and credit to him he worked real hard at getting a little bit more closed off,” Hole said. “He was opening up too much and he smoked that ball down the right field line.

“He’s contributed a lot for this team, especially with the glove, but he’s had his moments with the bat and none bigger than today.”

In the fifth, an RBI triple by Travis Jenkins scored one run and a wild pitch brought home another for Gov. Mifflin.

Detwiler allowed just one hit through five innings and finished the day with eight strikeouts. The Mustangs had nine hits through five innings and finished the game with 10.

A UConn commit, Detwiler went 1-for-3 with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to make it 7-2 and close out the scoring after Frankford scored two runs on three hits and an error in the top half of the inning.

“He only threw 65 pitches, did a great job of pitching the contact and staying away from you know their power zones because that team has some young men that can hit the ball,” Hole said of Detwiler. “And he navigated a really tough lineup for us today and did a great job. He’s been doing that on the mound for us now all season, so yeah, just a great two way guy.”

Also for Gov. Mifflin, Ethan Grim hit an RBI single in the first inning and was 2-for-3 at the plate. Emmanuel Roman earned the loss for the Pioneers and gave up eight hits, six earned runs and two walks.

“So it was definitely a slower pitcher and I was getting out in front,” Detwiler said. “So I knew I had to make an adjustment. And I made that adjustment. He threw me another fastball middle and I put a good swing on it.

“Usually those types of pitchers, they sometimes give us trouble, but we did good today and made adjustments in the middle of the game to put more runs up on the board.”

Heading into the next round of the state playoffs, the Mustangs join Fleetwood and Wilson as the first collection of three teams from the BCIAA to make the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs since 2011 when Twin Valley (3A), Oley Valley (2A) and Central Catholic (1A) reached the stage.

“The counties and districts, we were just so close,” Detwiler said, “but we just knew that we had to work harder in practice and that’s what we did this weekend. And it worked out. We put up seven runs against a pretty good Frankford team. So hopefully we can just continue that and maybe come out with a state championship.”

“It means the world,” Casantini said on continuing the postseason. “I love these boys so much and this team is great. To keep the season going means a lot.”




Source: Berkshire mont

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