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Grove double gives GP walk-off win

Greater Pittston Legion team on pace to make WVAL playoffs

Greater Pittston’s Nick O’Brien smashes a bases-clearing triple in the bottom of the fourth to give his team the lead in a 5-4 win over Swoyersville on Friday in West Pittston.

Photo by Tony Callaio

Greater Pittston pitcher Chris Murphy pitched a complete-game to earn the win over Swoyersville.

photo by tony callaio

On Friday night at the Atlas, the Greater Pittston American Legion baseball team knew it had to play its most important game of the season without two of their best hitters. What they didn’t know was, they wouldn’t need them.

Trent Grove delivered in the clutch by smashing a 0-2 fastball over the head of the Swoyersville centerfielder to Greater Pittston a 5-4 victory in walk-off fashion in a Wyoming Valley American Legion game with playoff implications at the Atlas Sports Complex in West Pittston.

“It felt great to come through and get a hit there,” Grove said with a huge smile. “I haven’t been hitting well lately and it felt great to get the win.”

Despite ultimately losing the game, Swoyersville took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Nick Hogan led off the game with a line drive single to left field and put himself into scoring position by stealing second base.

With one out in the inning, Joe Pechulis roped and RBI single down the first base line. However, he was thrown out at second by Greater Pittston right fielder Sam Eramo after trying to stretch his single into a double.

Swoyersville extended its lead to 2-0 in the top of the second inning after Chris Sabol drew a walk with the bases loaded. Mike Leonard walked home for Swoyersville after reaching on an error.

After leaving men on base in each of the first three innings, the Greater Pittston offense exploded for a four-run fourth. The inning was highlighted by a three-run triple to right-centerfield off the bat of Nick O’Brien. Chris Murphy followed and roped an RBI-single to centerfield to give Greater Pittston a 4-2 lead.

“You just have to play the hand you’re dealt,” said Greater Pittston Manager Drew Whyte of his lineup being void of Ron Musto and Kody Nowicki. “The kids battled hard today and Nick came through with the huge hit to give us the lead.”

Swoyersville cut the Greater Pittston lead to just 4-3 in the top half of the fifth inning as Pechulis scored on an RBI double down the left field line by Kyle Lewis.

In the top of the seventh, Swoyersville knotted the game at 4-4. Matt Zielen scored from third on a ground out to first off the bat of Tyler McGovern. Greater Pittston first baseman Anthony Bellino made a fantastic full extension dive to his glove side to stop the hard hit grounder by McGovern. If Bellino had not made the play, Pechulis most likely would have scored to give Swoyersville a 5-4 lead.

Greater Pittston’s first two hitters in the bottom of the seventh struck out and grounded out. However, Randy McDermott drew a key walk and Grove shattered any hopes Swoyersville had of winning the game with a walk-off double.

Murphy was terrific for Greater Pittston on the mound and earned the complete-game win. He allowed four runs, only two of which were earned, while striking out five.

“I knew we would be playing without a couple of our best hitters, so I wanted to make sure I had my best stuff today,” Murphy said. “I felt like my curve ball was really keeping hitters off balance and I was able to command my fastball.”

Bellino, Grove, Eramo, and Murphy each had two hits in the 5-4 Greater Pittston win.

The victory puts GP in position to qualify for the postseason and defend their WVAL title with a 12-3 record. The top four teams in the league qualify for the playoffs, and Greater Pittston is currently second behind Back Mt. who is 14-3.

But the postseason is not secure for the locals as Plains (12-5), Nanticoke (12-6) and Swoyersville (12-7) are all close behind with five games left for GP. Greater Pittston played a doubleheader against Tunkhannock (5-9) yesterday after Dispatch deadlines, and play today in a doubleheader against Old Forge (7-9) before finishing the season at Mountain Post (5-12) on Tuesday.

The WVAL playoffs begin Saturday at Mountain Post.

GP 4, Nanticoke 7

Greater Pittston suffered its third loss in four games as Nanticoke rallied for a 7-4 victory on Wednesday afternoon.

Nick O’Brien paced the GP offense with two hits, and Trent Grove, Matt Carroll and Ryan Carey each had RBI singles.

Anthony Bellino was dealt the loss after allowing 10 hits and seven earned runs in 4.1 innings of work. Kyle Colarusso finished the game for GP, pitching the final 1.2 innings while allowing two hits and three walks.

GP 8, Hazleton 0

Greater Pittston bounced back from its first two losses of the season with an 8-0 win over Hazleton on Tuesday afternoon at the Atlas Sports Complex in West Pittston.

Sam Eramo pitched the complete-game shutout, scattering seven hits and a walk while striking out three. Eramo also smacked three hits, including a double and drove in a run.

Trent Grove added a three-run double for GP, and Matt Carroll collected two hits and two RBI. Ryan Carey also stroked two hits for Greater Pittston.

GP 12, Back Mt. 15, 10 inn.

Greater Pittston lost its first WVAL game of the season in a 15-12, 10-inning loss to Back Mountain on Sunday afternoon in the completion of a suspended game at the Atlas Sports Complex in West Pittston.

Back Mountain scored three in the top of the tenth against Chris Murphy to earn the victory against the previously undefeated league leaders.

Ron Musto smacked four hits, including a home run to lead GP at the plate. Ryan Carey added three hits, and Murphy contributed two hits – including a home run and a double - and two RBI for the defending WVAL champs.

Murphy pitched the last three innings for GP, allowing three hits and two earned runs while walking four and striking out three.

GP 3, Back Mt. 7

Greater Pittston also dropped the second game of the short doubleheader at Atlas in a 7-3 loss to Back Mountain in the regular-scheduled game on Sunday.

Back Mt. got to Murphy for six earned runs in the first three innings as the Wyoming Area grad also got the start in the second game after finishing up the suspended game.

Nick O’Brien paced GP at the plate with three hits. Anthony Bellino added a two-run single for Greater Pittston, and Andre Harris, Ryan Carey and Sam Eramo each contributed singles.

Harris pitched 3.1 innings of relief, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out four.

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