Trumbull County rallies to win All-Star Classic
By BRIAN DZENIS
Dylan Keller gets to be a winner in his final high school baseball game.
The Howland graduate and Niles’ Marco DeFalco clinched a Trumbull County rally on Friday — a 9-6 victory against Mahoning County in the High School Valley All-Star Classic at Eastwood Field.
Trumbull was down 6-2 in the bottom of the seventh before busting out seven runs in its half of the inning. Keller — who spent most of the game at shortstop — got on the mound in the eighth, striking out one with neither hits nor walks. DeFalco struck out all three of the batters he faced in the ninth.
“We were struggling to score runs for a little bit and before I went out, we break it open,” Keller said. “That gives a lot of comfort to a pitcher.”
Keller picked up the victory and hit a one-run single during the scoring binge.
Keller played for a three-win Tigers team this season, but he’s no joke. The right-hander entered this spring with a baseball scholarship to Dayton and according to the OHSAA’s records, he’s the only pitcher in the Mahoning Valley to pitch a perfect game. On April 2 in the Tigers’ second game of the season, he achieved perfection in a 5-0 win against Ursuline.
“In our first game against Boardman, I had my worst pitching performance of my high school career. We lost 12-0 and I only made it through three innings,” Keller said. “Going into my next game, I was like ‘I had to pick this up’ and show the team how it’s going to be this year.”
Keller realized what he was doing in the fifth inning and it took some of his teammates a little longer to figure it out.
“Our catcher turned around and looked at me and said ‘you know...’ and then he just stopped and said never mind,” Keller said. “Everyone in the dugout figured it out and knew not to say anything.”
Champion’s AJ Meyer started the go-ahead charge with a two-run double. Keller scored Lakeview’s Daniel Brammer with his single. DeFalco and Brookfield’s Jacob Rarcliff hit consectutive RBI singles before Liberty’s David Sewell smacked a two-run single to earn MVP honors for Trumbull County.
“I was looking for a fastball basically. I know at 0-2 [Cardinal Mooney’s Brennan Olesh] was gonna throw junk, he threw it like two times in a row,” Sewell said. “I just had to be patient and just... hit the ball.”
Keller cited youth and an inexperienced junior class for Howland’s struggles.
“As a senior, I always wanted to make my team better. No matter what, I wanted them to get better —especially with me already having a future,” Keller said. “It wasn’t about me. It was about getting the team to take the next step.
“I think our struggles will help. I’ve been through the highs and the lows,” Keller said. “That’s baseball, you just have to stick with it.”
Springfield’s Brandon Walters took the loss for Mahoning County. Austintown Fitch’s Kole Klasic was the losing side’s MVP with two hits, including an RBI double.