Dale leadoff hitter Landon Coon carried his team offensively Thursday in the opening round of the Class 2A state baseball tournament, hitting two home runs. During Friday's semifinals at Dolese Park, Tushka refused to let Coon repeat the performance, walking the senior four times.
However, No. 1-ranked Dale still found plenty of offensive production to defeat Tushka, 17-5. This time it came from the bottom of the order, No. 9-hole hitter Jace Wilkins. The sophomore had a career game, going 3 for 3 with an RBI and three runs scored.
“Personally, this was the best performance I've ever had,” said Wilkins. “Being able to come through in the state tournament like I did today is a really great feeling.”
Dale (26-6) will play Silo (25-11) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Shawnee for the state title. Silo advanced by defeating Wister 7-5 in the other semifinal at Dolese Park.
Dale coach Jerry Sanford wasn't surprised to get production from Wilkins. After getting frustrated with how his team performed at the plate in the opening round on Thursday, Sanford was pleased with how his team hit in the semifinals.
“We expect everyone in our order to hit well regardless of how old they are,” Sanford said. “I was a little hard on the guys after how we hit in the first round, and they responded by hitting the ball well today.”
Tied 5-5 through four innings, Dale broke the game open with an eight-run fifth inning. The Pirates had a pair of two-run doubles from Evan Anderson and Hunter Pinkston. Dale sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning.