Nanticoke, Swoyersville Legion rivalry resumes today

RICE TWP. — It was this time last year when the Nanticoke versus Swoyersville rivalry started to brew.

Both Wyoming Valley American Legion League powers reached the Region 5 Tournament as the top two teams from the league and played for that championship.

While Swoyersville went on to win the state championship, Nanticoke became the first team to deal the eventual champs a loss.

The rivalry continued into the 2015 regular season with Nanticoke winning both matchups; shutting out Swoyersville in the process.

Thanks to wins on Sunday, the opening day of the league playoffs, Nanticoke and Swoyersville will square off again this afternoon at 5:30 in a winner’s bracket game at Mountain Post.

Top-seeded Nanticoke won the opening game of the playoffs, 6-0 over Tunkhannock behind a strong pitching performance from Mike Bugonowicz, while second-seeded Swoyersville needed to come from behind to knock off Greater Pittston, 5-4 in Sunday’s second game. The first game this afternoon at Mountain Post will feature No. 3 seed Greater Pittston against No. 4 Tunkhannock in an elimination game.

“With Swoyersville up here it gives us a lot of motivation to prove what we’re worth especially after losing to them in regionals last year,” Bugonowicz said. “It’s not only giving us motivation now, but it’s going to motivate us into regionals as well.”

Nanticoke (17-2), the defending tournament champion, scored three runs in the bottom of the third highlighted by an RBI double from Christian Pack (2 for 4) and a run-scoring single from Bugonowicz.

Meanwhile, Bugonowicz was in control on the mound with great command of all his pitches to get ahead of hitters. After allowing a one-out, first-inning double to Bob Gilpin and allowing him to reach third, he didn’t allow another Tunkhannock batter to advance past second base. Bugonowicz lasted six innings fanning eight and giving up two hits. Dan Kosty’s single to start the third was the last hit Bugonowicz gave up.

“A little bit of everything was working,” Bugonowicz said. “(Catcher) Mike Sulcoski calls a great game and that contributes a lot to it.”

Nanticoke added three more runs in the fifth with a single from John Morgan plating two. John Wickiser added two hits and an RBI for the winners.

Swoyersville (16-3), which didn’t participate in the league tournament last season due to finishing unbeaten and getting an automatic bye to regionals, fell behind Greater Pittston 3-0 entering the bottom of the third. The score could have been much worse because GP left the bases loaded in the first, had a runner tagged out at third base on an attempted squeeze bunt in the second, and stranded two more runners in the top of the third.

With the deficit at just three runs, Swoyersville felt the momentum swinging.

“I told our guys ‘let’s just minimize and keep the score where it is and we’re gonna hit the ball and attack away,’” Swoyersville manager Sean Toole said. “They missed some opportunities, but so did we. You just gotta keep grinding away at it. That’s what our guys do. They played all out and I’m extremely proud of them.”

The defending state champs got on the board in the third as speedster Justin Montalvo manufactured a run with a walk and two stolen bases before scoring to make the score 3-1. The next time Montalvo batted, he did nearly the same thing, but instead of stealing third, he reached that base on a wild pitch before scoring on a two-run double by Logan Zavada in the fifth to tie the game at 3-3.

Swoyersville took its first lead in the bottom of the sixth plating two runs with Montalvo again centering around the action reaching on an error that scored the go-ahead run and then scoring on a sac fly by Ryan Hogan.

Greater Pittston, which left the bases loaded in the top of the seventh after scoring one on a single by Evan Musto (3 for 4), outhit Swoyersville 13-5, but stranded 10 runners on base. Part of the reason GP had problems in key situations was the inability to rattle Swoyersville starter Bill Gregory, who has pitched in many tense situations over the past two seasons, including helping Wyoming Valley West reach the PIAA Class 4A championship game.

In the seventh inning, Swoyersville right-hander Jeremy Worlinsky got out of the bases-loaded, no out jam only allowing the one run to score and recording the three outs on two strikeouts and a fielder’s choice at the plate.

“Heart, toughness, bulldog, our leader and our leader on the field,” Toole said about Worlinsky’s demeanor in the last frame. “He’s done it for us the last two years. I can’t say enough about the kid, he’s a warrior.

As far as getting to see Nanticoke for the third time this season, Toole said: “I can’t wait. Our guys can’t wait. It’ll be a battle. It’ll be a heck of a game. They’re a heck of a group of guys, great team.”

American Legion Playoffs

Nanticoke 6, Tunkhannock 0


Ceccarelli c`3`0`0`0

Gilpin rf`3`0`1`0

Brown ss`2`0`0`0

Tinna lf`0`0`0`0

Hannon dh`3`0`0`0

Hughes 1b`3`0`1`0

Huslander p`2`0`0`0

Gregory p`0`0`0`0

Brown ph`1`0`0`0

Goodwin 2b`2`0`0`0

Hopkins ph`1`0`0`0

Kosty 3b`2`0`1`0

Soltysiak rf`2`0`0`0



Myers 2b`3`1`1`0

Pack ss`4`1`2`1

Sulcoski c`3`2`1`0

Bugonowicz p`4`0`1`1

Pokrinchak 1b/p`1`1`0`1

Wickiser cf`3`1`2`1

Reno 3b`3`0`1`0

Lubenski lf`3`0`1`0

Morgan rf`3`0`1`2




2B: Myers, Pack, Gilpin


Huslander (L)`3.0`6`3`3`2`1



Bugonowicz (W)`6.0`2`0`0`2`8


Swoyersville 5, Greater Pittston 4

Greater Pittston`AB`R`H`BI

Lopatka p/cf`4`1`4`1

Homza rf/lf`4`2`1`0

Lescavage ss`2`0`0`0

Gushka 3b`0`0`0`0

Gavenonis dh/3b`4`0`3`1

Jurchak p`0`0`0`0

Mitchell 1b`4`0`0`0

Musto c`4`0`3`1

Zezza lf/3b/p`4`0`1`0

Jackson rf`4`0`0`0

Dougherty 2b`3`1`1`0



Montalvo cf`2`3`0`0

Lupole ss`1`1`0`0

Hogan c`3`0`0`1

Yankosky 1b`3`0`1`0

Worlinsky 1b/p`2`0`0`0

Zavada 3b`3`0`1`2

Baron lf`2`0`1`0

Popson lf`0`0`0`0

Gregory p`3`0`1`0

Raitter rf`1`0`0`0

Flanley rf`1`1`1`0


Greater Pittston`210`000`1—`4


2B: Lopatka 2, Yankosky, Zavada. 3B: Lopatka.

Greater Pittston`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO



Zezza (L)`1.1`1`2`1`0`0



Worlinsky (W)`1.1`2`1`1`0`2

Reach Dave Rosengrant at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @tldrosengrant

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