The Black brothers go back to back. One week after his older brother Mason took home the Athlete of the Week award, Valley View shortstop/pitcher earned the honor after picking up the win in the Cougars’ first-round state playoff game against Lewisburg and knocking two hits, including a triple, in their quarterfinal win over Berks Catholic. They’re the first siblings to win the award in consecutive weeks since fellow Valley Viewers Ronnie and Hannah Yanoski took home the prize Aug. 24 and Aug. 31, 2015. Here is much more from Dixon’s interview:
Favorite sports teams: Los Angeles Angels.
How did you start to like the Angels? Well, Mike Trout got drafted. I was like, “Wow. This guy’s really good. They’re going to be good one day.” So then I liked them ever since.
Athletes you admire: Mike Trout, Bo Jackson and Francisco Lindor.
What is it you like about those guys? They’re good and they’re versatile. I like that. Hit bombs, run, throw — I like that.
Any superstitions or rituals? Nope. Not superstitious. Oh, I do play one game of Fortnite before a game. I do do that. I’ll play in the morning. … And, that goes for basketball, too. Because basketball games are at night, so I’ll go home, play one game at least. I started doing that the beginning of basketball (season).
So, that’s working? I mean, I guess. I guess you could say that. Sometimes in basketball, we just got smashed, like when we played Abington (Heights). Then, it didn’t work. It did not work when we played them.
Favorite food? Chicken parmesan.
How important is that role, starting pitcher in a win-or-go-home game? It’s big. Especially the first game, because you want to get into that Round 2, especially going into Round 2 with (brother Mason Black) throwing that game, then we have a lot of confidence that we’re going to go to Round 3.
How were you feeling that day? Good. I felt loose. I wasn’t really nervous. I knew they had my back. But I felt pretty good. The curve was working in the bullpen and my fastball was running a little bit. The curve was my punchout pitch.
When did you know that you guys had that game won? Whenever we got those first runs, I felt pretty confident because I knew my stuff was working and everybody behind me was doing what they can to help us get the win.
There’s some risk involved with not starting your No. 1 in the first game. Does that put added pressure on you? Yes, but no. I feel like it’s all on me, trying to keep it a low-scoring game. But no because I know that everybody else is going to pick up what I’m lacking, on the offensive side and defensive side.
Second game, you hit a leadoff triple in the first and then score. How important was it to score first? It was big because we give Mason that early lead and then he feels more confident knowing he’s got a little cushion to work with. Everyone was swinging it that game though. We hit well. Everybody swung it, from one to nine — everybody was hitting the ball well. And just getting that one run in the first was important.
Valley View recently has had a reputation of having some of the best pitchers in the area, but it’s been the offense that has kind of struggled. What is it about you guys that you’re able to come through on the offensive end? I think we’ve got a lot of guys that are just trying to drive it, not just trying to put it in play early on in the count. I think they try to really rip it; take some hacks. But I think once it gets down, 0-2, everybody shortens up, puts the ball in play, puts the pressure on the defense. I think that’s what really changed. Everybody bought in this year of just driving the ball and fighting with two strikes.
How nice is it to be able to count on that offense in the state tournament? Your confidence goes up, and the cushion — you definitely feel a lot more safe with that, knowing you could botch a ball, something like that, but then knowing you could go right back after the next one. That could do no harm.
How are you guys feeling going into this week? I think we’re ready. Ready to go. Still riding the same wave after the district game. Everybody’s still buying in and I think everyone’s ready to go, especially for (today).
What would it mean to get a win today? Definitely the emotions would be even higher for that (next) state game, coming off it. It just keeps building up. And the confidence would be there. I think we’re going to swing it well (today), but if our bats get going (today), I think they’re going to be ready for the state game and everyone’s going to be eager to get after it.
How about the job Dylan Stafursky has done in relief for you guys this year? I think he really accepted his role. He’s definitely more mature than your average freshman. He’s got a good fastball; hard fastball. He’s able to locate it pretty well, and he’s got a nice wipeout slider.
We had four baseball teams go to states — Valley View, North Pocono, Mid Valley and Lakeland. Do you guys take pride in being the last ones standing? Yeah, I think we do, because the next day you open up the paper and you see Valley View. Now everybody’s just watching us now, because all the others, unfortunately for this area, lost. But now it’s just Valley View and I think we’re trying to uphold that 570 pride for everyone.
You’re all-in on baseball. How important is this summer for you? Big summer coming up. Really going to keep all doors open. Hopefully, I play the best baseball I can over the summer and see what we get out of it.
How long have you known that you wanted to play baseball in college? Since I was like 8, 9 — once I found out you could play in college. It wasn’t just like you’re done after your Little League career.
What would you want to do in college? Play short? Pitch? I think I’m going to end up either getting switched to the corner because of my size. I would pitch if I had to.
Anything else you want to talk about?Just that I’m better at Fortnite.
Than Mason? Yeah.