The Dayton American Legion baseball team's championship hopes flickered a few times, but finally kept on burning Wednesday.
The Raiders' 5-4, last-inning victory over Parkville earned Dayton a tie with Dundalk for the first-half North-Central District championship. Both 18-and-under teams have 8-4 first-half records. A one-game playoff will decide the winner, but the date for the game has not yet been announced.
A loss would have ended the Raiders' title chances for this season, since their 3-5 second-half record places them out of contention for that title.
The winner of the first-half playoff game will face the second-half champ in a three-game playoff to decide the state tournament representative.
Mark Trecannelli knocked in the winning run with a two-out, bases-loaded walk at Dayton Rod and Gun Club's Buckshot Field. Trecannelli walked three times, singled, scored three times and had one RBI as Dayton's lead-off batter.
"I like batting at the top of the order much better and think I $$ perform much better there," Trecannelli said. He recently was moved up from the middle of the lineup.
Joining Trecannelli with three walks apiece were Bryan Egolf and Darin Nelson, as three Parkville pitchers walked 11 and gave up seven hits.
Dayton had 20 base runners in all, counting the hits, walks and two Parkville errors. The Raiders stranded 12 runners in one of their most frustrating games of the season.
Base-running mistakes ruined Dayton rallies in the second, fourth and sixth innings. In the second inning, the Raiders had a runner thrown out trying to steal second base. Then, in the fourth, they had a runner picked off first base. And, in the sixth, a runner trying to score on a wild pitch was cut down.
"We made mental and physical mistakes tonight, but overcame them," assistant coach Gary Kuykendall said. Kuykendall is filling in for head coach George Bickerton, who underwent surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital Tuesday.
Dayton scored once in the first on a walk by Trecannelli, a sacrifice bunt by Egolf and a run-scoring single by Eric Glenn.
The Raiders scored one more run in the fourth. They loaded the bases on a single by Chris Leinauer, a Parkville error and then a single by Mike Miller. Miller, Dayton's starting pitcher, was picked off first base, but Leinauer scored on the play. Leinauer went 3-for-4 with an RBI.
Miller pitched a shutout for four innings, allowing just two hits and walking three during that stint. In the fifth inning, however, he gave up a walk, a double and a single. Two Dayton errors and a balk added up to three Parkville runs and a 3-2 Parkville lead.
Dayton regained the lead with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Trecannelli singled. Egolf walked. Bickerton reached first base on an error as one run scored. And Leinauer singled in a run.
But Parkville tied it 4-4 in the sixth inning on a home run. Whenthe next batter singled sharply, Miller was replaced on the mound by Todd Messner, who got the final two outs of the inning.
Parkville threatened in the seventh inning with two straight singles. Miller, who replaced Messner at third base, then saved the game with a backhanded catch that he turned into a double play. Miller made an error on the the next ground ball. But Messner got the final out on a grounder to Bickerton at shortstop.
Dayton won it in the seventh inning on a single by Leinauer andthree walks.
It was the second straight must-win, first-half make-up game for Dayton. The Raiders beat Towson at Hereford High on Tuesday, 11-7.
Bickerton pitched all six innings of the darkness-shortened contest, and fanned the game's final batter as Towson left the bases loaded for the second time.
Ryan McQueeny, who cut short his vacation in Ocean City to ensure that Dayton would have enough players, went 3-for-4, including an RBI-double. Dayton won both make-up games with just 10 players.