Pittston Area’s Kyle Callahan is safe at home plate after sliding in ahead of the tag fromDallas catcher Paul Narcum.photo by BILL TARUTIS
Pittston Area’s Jordan bone delivers a pitch in a win over Dallas.photo by BILL TARUTIS
There are some memories from last season still lingering. But with each win in 2011, Pittston Area is making some new ones.
The Patriots had to replace nearly their entire starting lineup a year ago but caught fire at the end of the season, falling just short of beating top-seeded Valley View in the district quarterfinals.
That loss motivated Pittston Area in the offseason, and now the Patriots are back among the top teams in the Wyoming Valley Conference. They continued their surge on Monday with a 7-2 road win against Dallas.
“That same core of guys is back. And right from day one we said we’re not going to wait around like last year to start playing,” Patriots coach Paul Zaffuto said. “They knew by the end of last year that they were a team to reckon with. We went in against a 14-0 team (in the playoffs) and we felt that we were a better team than they were. And the kids believed it.
“We got our knees chopped out from under us (in that game) and it was a whole summer’s worth of work that went into this. The kids were saying, ‘We’re not gonna let it happen again, we’re not gonna let it happen again.’ And I said, ‘You can’t talk it, you’ve gotta show it.’ ”
They’ve shown plenty at the midpoint of the season.
With Monday’s win, the Patriots (6-2) moved a full game ahead of Holy Redeemer for first place in Division I East of the WVC with seven left to play.
Against the Mountaineers, they racked up 13 hits and had at least one baserunner in each frame. They got some important innings from the bullpen to hold Dallas at bay.
And, of course, they got another big-time performance from Josh Savakinas.
The senior shortstop came into the week leading the league in hitting and was at or near the top of several offensive categories. He didn’t disappoint.
Savakinas reached base in all four plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with a walk and three RBI. He fell a triple short of cycle, his day highlighted by a no-doubt-about-it solo shot after working the count full in the fifth inning.
For good measure, he even added an impressive lunging snag of a line drive ticketed for an RBI to end the first inning.
“He’s like a Nintendo player out there,” Dallas coach Ken Kashatus said. “It’s like he’s got one of those big Pinky bats that you played Wiffle ball with when you were a kid.”
“He’s a kid that just keeps getting better and better. You wouldn’t even believe it,” Zaffuto said. “He’s a kid that stays two hours after, he’s working on his swing at home, he’s throwing balls off the wall to get his feet better. He’s determined.”
Savakinas’ home run gave the Patriots a 4-1 lead. The bullpen, led by Brandon Pernot, made it stand up for the win.
Dallas (5-3) put together a few rallies before Pittston Area pulled away with three runs in the top of the seventh, as Ron Musto, R.J. Emmett and Tyler Loftus each drove in a run to make it 7-1.
The Mountaineers wouldn’t go away, as Brian Stepniak smacked an RBI double in the bottom of the frame. Dallas then loaded the bases with two outs before the Patriots’ Kyle Callahan got a strikeout to end the game.
“I’m happy with the record and we’ve been playing decent baseball,” Zaffuto said.
“But we’re still making too many mistakes, and we’re giving teams opportunities that they shouldn’t have.
“We’re still not playing a full game like we should. But I think when we do, we’re going to be dangerous.”
Pittston Area put up 11 runs in the top of the first to give winning-pitcher James Castellino more than enough support as the Patriots dismissed Crestwood, 19-6, in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division I-East game on Tuesday afternoon in Mountain Top.
Castellino allowed just two earned runs in four innings of work while scattering seven hits and three walks. The senior righty fanned three to pick up his first decision of the season.
The Patriots banged out 14 hits as every starter in the lineup had at least one hit.
The hot-hitting duo of shortstop Josh Savakinas and catcher Ron Musto continued their dominance at the plate, combining for four hits, seven RBI and six runs scored.
Freshman first baseman Josh Razvilla (two doubles) and senior centerfielder Matt Antal (two singles) each added two hits and an RBI, and Tyler Loftus drove in two with a pinch-hit single. RJ Emmett added an RBI-double for PA.
Kyle Callahan worked 1.2 innings of no-hit relief while striking out four.
Pittston Area gave up a four-run lead in a tough 6-4 loss to Hazleton on Thursday afternoon in a WVC Division I East road game.
The Patriots led 3-0 in the first inning as Josh Savakinas doubled home Jordan Bone, and Ron Musto followed with a mammoth two-run homer.
Savakinas added his second RBI of the game in the third, a grounder that scored Bone from this for a 4-0 PA lead.
But the Cougars cut the deficit in half with two runs in the bottom of the third off of starter Chuck Bressler who tuned in his best outing of the season on the moung.
Hazleton went back to work in the sixth, scoring four runs to take the lead.
Kyle Callahan was charged with the loss in relief for the Patriots after coming in for Bressler midway through the sixth inning.
PA managed just four hits on the afternoon – the same amount as Hazleton.
Ryan Carey’s first-career walk-off hit gave Wyoming Area a wild 13-12, extra-inning, victory over Coughlin in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division I crossover on Monday afternoon at the Atlas Sports Complex in West Pittston.
Carey drove home sophomore Jake Granteed with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth after the Crusaders had tied the game in the top of the seventh with four runs. Coughlin actually led 6-1 after the first inning, but the Warriors rallied with 11 runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to take a 12-7 lead entering the six inning.
Dylan Maloney picked up the win in relief for Wyoming Area, striking out three in 1.2 innings of work. The junior lefty also smacked three hits, including a double, and scored three runs for the Warriors.
Chris Murphy cracked three hits for WA, including his first home run of the season, and also scored three runs while driving in one. Kody Nowicki smashed three hits and drove in three runs for the Warriors, and PJ Bone, Kyle Colarusso, and Carey each added two hits as Wyoming Area banged out 19 hits. Colarusso added three RBI, and Bone drove in two.
Adam Romanowski and Ron Klepadlo also pitched solidly out of the bullpen for the Warriors in the middle innings.
Romanowski threw 2.2 innings while scattering four hits while striking out three and allowing just one run, and Klepadlo pitched 1.2 innings of no-hit ball while striking out three and walking three.
Wyoming Area fell behind early and fought back to take a lead but Tunkhannock just had too much as the Warriors fell 13-9 to the Tigers in a WVC Division I West game on the road Thursday afternoon in Wyoming County.
The Warriors fell behind 5-1 after the first inning as Tunkhannock scored all earned runs off of freshman starter Mike Carey who was chased before recording an out. But Wyoming Area got a solid 3.1 innings of relief from Matt Klus as the Warriors battled back to score eight runs over the next three innings to take a 9-8 lead into the bottom of the fifth.
Tunkhannock went to work in its half of the fifth, scoring five runs – four of them unearned – off of WA relievers Ron Klepadlo and Dylan Maloney.
Wyoming Area tagged Tigers ace Mike Healey for nine runs and nine hits in his five innings of work, but could not get to reliever Chris Knott who pitched two innings of hitless relief.
PJ Bone let the Warriors offense with three hits, including two doubles and an RBI. Chris Murphy also doubled and knocked in two runs for WA, and Ryan Carey also drove in two runs. Nick O’Brien returned to the Wyoming Area lineup with two hits for the Warriors.
Old Forge scored four runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth to rally for a 6-2 victory over Holy Cross on Monday afternoon in a Lackawanna League Division II game on the campus of Penn State Worthington in Dunmore.
Trailing 2-0 in the fifth, the Blue Devils scored four unearned runs in the top of the fifth as winning-pitcher Tony Goodall and Mario Martinelli drove in runs with RBI singles.
Connor Fultz then tripled home two runs in the top of the sixth to give Old Forge (7-2) a 6-2 lead.
Goodall pitched the complete-game, allowing just one earned run on six hits and two walks while striking out four.
Old Forge kept pace for its showdown with division-leading Valley View next week with a 6-2 win over Lakeland in a LL Division II game on Thursday in Mayfield.
Sophomore lefty Dave Chromey picked up his second complete-game victory of the season by scattering seven hits and five walks in allowing two earned runs. He also struck out seven.
Tony Goodall led the Blue Devils on offense, driving in three with a home run and a double while batting in the No. 9 spot.
Ian Nemetz added and RBI single for Old Forge (8-2), and both Michael Long and Dom Avvisato drove in runs for the Blue Devils.
--- Dispatch Staff Writer Rick Notari also contributed to this report.
WVC Division I East
WVC Division I West
LL Division II
PA at Nanticoke
WA v. Valley West
OF at Carbondale
PA v. Hazleton
PA at Coughlin
WA at Dallas
OF v. Valley View