4 days after winning WPIAL baseball title, Shaler’s emotional postseason run ends

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Monday, June 3, 2019 | 11:15 PM


When Shaler’s championship season ended abruptly Monday, baseball coach Brian Junker gathered his players in right field and simply told them “thank you.”

Four days after celebrating the team’s first WPIAL title in two decades, the Titans’ emotional run stopped with a 5-1 loss to Lampeter-Strasburg in the Class 5A playoffs at Latrobe.

“I said it’s supposed to hurt when you work this hard for something, but thank you because they did something we haven’t done in 20 years,” Junker said.

The moment was emotional for him, too.

“I’m getting a little choked up here,” said the 1995 Shaler graduate, “because of how happy I am.”

Lampeter-Strasburg senior Dylan Byler threw a two-hitter and faced only 22 batters — one over the minimum — in a strong 90-pitch outing by the Delaware State recruit. The right-hander struck out nine, walked none and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning.

Don’t blame the dreaded WPIAL championship hangover.

“There was no hangover,” said Junker, who’s in his 10th season. “They worked their butts off. We ran into a pretty good team that hits fastballs.”

Junker started Nick Rispoli, a junior committed to Dayton who’s a hard thrower for Shaler (15-8). But Lampeter-Strasburg got to him early, scored four runs in the second inning and chased him after just five outs.

Shaler has leaned on two pitchers, Rispoli and senior Hunter Boyan. Boyan started the WPIAL championship, got into trouble and Rispoli entered in relief for the victory. This time Boyan handled the final 16 outs and held Lampeter-Strasburg to one run on four hits over the final 5 1/3 innings.

“I didn’t wrestle with it much,” Junker said of deciding who to start. “If someone had said they’re a fastball-hitting team, then possibly. … But Nick deserved to start today and he got it. It just didn’t work out.”

Rispoli escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first when he’d hit two batters and walked another, but was pulled two outs into the second as Lampeter-Strasburg took a 3-0 lead. He allowed four runs — one charged to him after leaving the mound — on three hits, a walk and three hit batters in 1 2/3 innings.

“It’s hard, you don’t know these teams,” Junker said of Lampeter-Strasburg (22-4), the fourth-place team from District 3. “You try to gather as much information as possible. … In the WPIAL championship game we were able to grab (Boyan) before it got out of hand. Today, one more double down the line and it’s 3-0 already.”

Lampeter-Strasburg will face Franklin Regional in the second round Thursday. A site and time was not announced.

Shaler scored its only run on a leadoff homer by Boyan in the fifth, cutting the deficit to 5-1. The blast was his first of the season. Will Jamison followed with a single for the Titans’ only other hit, but a double play quieted their hopes for a rally.

Byler retired the final nine batters in order.

“He was hitting his spots pretty good,” Boyan said. “He had a slider/sinker that was pounding the inside corner. If you swing at it you get jammed, so you just kind of have to look at it. You couldn’t do anything.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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