HUGHESTOWN – There have been times in recent Wyoming Valley Conference seasons when the Pittston Area Patriots may have thought they should have produced a few more wins along the way.
But, by playoff time each season, the Patriots have been ready.
Pittston Area won its opening round District 2 Class AAA tournament game for the seventh straight season when it handled visiting Lake-Lehman, 6-1, early Friday afternoon in the game that got the district baseball tournament started.
“This is where we really come together,” said Tyler Jackson, who threw a complete game and drove in the first two runs. “We work all regular season to come together at this point and really make a run.
“It’s what we do.”
Pittston Area has put together that streak of opening playoff wins (exceeded in District 2 by only Hanover Area) despite four times beginning on the road against higher-seeded opponents. Although Friday’s win was at home, the Patriots did not have much of a perceived advantage going in. They needed a strong finish to the regular season to claim the eighth seed and a chance to host ninth-seeded Lake-Lehman.
“Tyler executed the game plan and we made the plays behind him,” Pittston Area coach Paul Zaffuto said. “It was a great game.”
And, not the first by the Patriots at this time of the year.
Their five road wins over high-seeded opponents in district play since 2010 rank second only to Holy Redeemer among District 2’s 42 baseball schools.
“If we’re playing the way we did (Friday), we have a shot at anyone and that’s all you can ask for,” Zaffuto said.
Even their elimination games in recent years have often been impressive efforts.
The reward for Friday’s win is a game Tuesday at top-seeded Valley View, the same spot where the 2010, 2013 and 2014 season ended. The top-seeded Cougars beat the ninth-seeded Patriots, 2-1 in 2010 and 3-2 in 2014 in the quarterfinals. Valley View was also the top seed when it edged 12th-seeded Pittston Area, 3-1, in the 2013 semifinals.
“They were all one-run games where we lost in extra innings or the bottom of the seventh and it came down to one play,” Zaffuto said.
The coach said the challenge Tuesday against the Lackawanna League Division 1 champions, led by Virginia recruit and Major League Baseball Draft prospect Max Kranick, will be to make every play.
The Patriots made most of them Friday.
They committed just one error, benefitted from one diving and one sliding, game-ending catch from Joe DeLucca in center field, and banged out 13 hits.
DeLucca and Jackson each had two hits, including a two-out, two-run single, to build a 5-0 lead through four innings.
C.J. Pisack singled and doubled, Kevin Krawczyk had two hits and Kyle O’Fier tripled.
“It’s the first time all year that we played the way a champion would play,” Zaffuto.
Jackson struck out six while going the distance, allowing seven hits and a walk.
“My curveball was my go-to pitch,” Jackson said. “But, you can’t do anything without the fielding behind you.”
Dallas 1, Wyoming Area 0
Aaron Yurko threw a two-hit shutout and Dallas defeated host Wyoming Area, 1-0, Tuesday in the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 regular-season finale.
The Warriors, who had earlier clinched the title, finished 10-3 to claim the second seed and a bye in the first round of district playoffs.
Cory Lescavage had both Wyoming Area hits and Josh Kopcza allowed just one run while striking out six in his complete game.
The Warriors are home Tuesday against Abington Heights, a 5-1 winner over Honesdale in Friday’s first round.
Pittston Area 6, Crestwood 1
Dom Stella threw a five-hitter May 14 when Pittston Area wrapped up the regular season with a 6-1 WVC Division 1 win over visiting Crestwood.
Joe DeLucca did not allow an earned run while walking one and striking out six.
DeLucca led the offense, going 3-for-3 with three runs, two stolen bases and two RBI. Kevin Krawczyk added two hits.
Kyle O’Fier and Dylan Spurlin had triples and Krawczyk had a double.
The Patriots won three of their final five games to finish 5-8, fourth of five teams in the division.