WEST PITTSTON — Things started strong for Greater Pittston baseball teams in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association District 2 Class 3A baseball championships. Despite starting with wins, the latter rounds of play weren’t so kind.
Wyoming Area fell to North Pocono, 2-1 in the semifinals Thursday. Two days earlier, Pittston Area was eliminated by Valley View, 15-0, in the quarterfinals. The Patriots opened the tournament with a win over Lake-Lehman last week, and Wyoming Area took care of Abington Heights in the quarterfinals.
It was the second straight year the Warriors lost by that score in the third round to a Lackawanna League team, falling to Valley View in 2015. Coach Ron Musto said it was the fifth time total the Warriors fell short in the district semis during his two stints leading the team.
“I’ve had a lot of accomplishments coaching, but just can’t get past this game,” an emotional Musto said. “I feel like I’m responsible. Five times we’ve lost here in this game. It’s just a tough pill to swallow. A tough pill to swallow. Five times at home — just can’t get it done.
“Our kids battled all year. We had a great year. No disrespect to North Pocono, they’re a great program. But I really thought we were lined up to get over the hump here.”
Midway through the game, it felt like it might happen.
The second-seed Warriors shook off an unearned run against them in the top of the fourth as Tyler Dougherty delivered in the home half.
Fellow senior Cory Lescavage led off the frame with a base hit and advanced to second on a ground out. With two outs, Dougherty ripped an 0-1 pitch down the line in left to tie the game up.
Lescavage, who started on the mound, proceeded to set down the Trojans with just eight pitches in the fifth, striking out two and building the Warriors’ momentum.
The bottom of the lineup proceeded to put two men on with one out in the bottom of the fifth as Aaron Lee drew a walk and Steve Homza singled. But Trojans starter Charlie Lamparter settled down and got two straight fly balls to end the threat.
North Pocono responded with an RBI double by Matt Fisch with two gone in the sixth to take the lead. Lamparter pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth before sophomore Cory Wall came on in the seventh to record his second save in as many playoff games.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Musto said. “It was your typical high school baseball game. Never comes down to one play. I just thought it was a very well-played, well-coached game on both sides.
“Unfortunately, unless your team wins the state championship, this is what happens. I really wanted to get the kids to PNC Field.”
Lescavage went the distance, striking out six in his final game for the Warriors.
“You can’t expect to go into a district semifinal and win with one run,” Musto said. “We have to score more than one run to get to a district final. You have to. And we just weren’t able to do that today, and I take full responsibility for not being able to produce more than one.”
Musto said he wasn’t sure how many more years he’d coach the Warriors this time around but said he was glad the school district “put politics aside” and gave him the opportunity to return a year ago.
“I had a point to prove and I proved it,” Musto said. “I’m happy. We did what we needed to do. Wyoming Area’s back on the map. We are a baseball program that needs to be reckoned with.
“We finished in the final four the last two years and have back-to-back conference championships. Keep politics out of it and Wyoming Area kids can be successful in anything.”
The Warriors got past Abington Heights in the quarterfinals thanks to some bad breaks on the part of the Comets. Either way, Lescavage, Brandon Charney and Aaron Lee each drove in runs. Josh Kopcza picked up the win by going seven innings and striking out five.
Patriots eliminated by Valley View
Pittston Area’s season came to an end with a three-inning loss at the hands of top-seed Valley View. The Patriots finished the season 6-9.
The Cougars have now eliminated Pittston Area from the district playoffs four of the past seven years — 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016. The Patriots advanced to the quarterfinal matchup with Valley View by beating Lake-Lehaman, 6-1, on Friday, May 21. In that game, winning pitcher Tyler Jackson and Joe DeLucca each had two-run singles in the win.
Reporter Nick Wagner contributed to this story. Reach Derek Levarse at 570-991-6396 or on Twitter @TLdlevarse.