It was quite the week for Pittston Area senior Taylor Baloga. She nearly threw a no-hitter on Tuesday and signed her letter of intent to continue her softball career on Wednesday. Thursday, however, didn’t turn out the way she, nor her team, would have liked.
The Patriots, against the defending District Class AAAA champions, couldn’t get over the hump and fell to the Hazleton Area Cougars, 2-1. Baloga pitched six innings, giving up no earned runs and just six hits. The loss dropped the Patriots to 3-1 in the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1.
Senior Mindina Lieback was 3-for-4 against Hazleton Area, scoring the Patriots’ lone run. Freshmen Alexa McHugh and Lexi Felinski each had two hits. Felinski drove in Pittston Area’s lone run in the top of the third inning with the second of her two doubles on the day.
Pittston Area allowed Hazleton Area to score one in the first before tying the game with Felinski’s double in the third. In the bottom of the third, however, Hazleton Area’s Celine Podlesney broke the tie with a single.
The Patriots outhit Hazleton Area 10-6. However, the Patriots committed three errors leading to the pair of Cougar runs.
“We had a couple miscues that didn’t help out a tight game,” Pittston Area coach Vito Quaglia said. “Honestly, we’ll be better for it. If it’s possible to have a good loss — we’ll learn from a few things.”
Pittston Area had the winning run at the plate and the tying run on base in the seventh inning, but weren’t able to get the run across the plate.
“We had a chance to win it against the defending Quad-A champs,” Quaglia said. “It’s a learning experience. Every game we need to get better.”
Baloga took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and drove in three runs as Pittston Area defeated Wyoming Valley West 6-1 on Tuesday.
“She’s definitely in command of the strike zone right now,” Quaglia said. “She doesn’t get rattled easily. As a senior she’s playing with that kind of pose and maturity that it takes.”
Baloga gave up a walk to Valley West’s Jaden Belles to start the game. Belles was then erased when third baseman Abbey Bradigan snagged a shin-high liner and threw across the diamond for a double play. The lineout started a string of 15 consecutive Spartans retired by Baloga.
The no-hit bid ended with one out in the sixth when Andi Blaski hit a sinking liner to right. By that time, though, Pittston Area had a six-run lead.
The Patriots’ offense picked up where it left off last week when it scored 13 runs in the sixth in a 21-5 victory over Coughlin. Against Valley West, Lieback opened the game with a triple to deep left. Felinski followed by lining a double inside the left foul line for a 1-0 lead. Baloga later made it 2-0 with a double to left-center.
Wyoming Area had eights days off between games and sat at 2-1 in the conference heading into Saturday’s game with Nanticoke. Pittston Area traveled to Crestwood and the Warriors hosted the Trojans on Saturday. Scores of those two games were not available at press time.
This coming week, Wyoming Area hosts Dallas on Monday and travels to Coughlin on Tuesday. Pittston Area hosts Tunkhannock Tuesday and travels to Lake-Lehman on Friday.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick