As if replacing a cadre of all-stars weren’t enough for Wyoming Valley West to deal with.
The Valley West baseball team was forced to relocate from its home field next to Spartan Stadium in Kingston at the start of the season as the school district readies renovations for the football field.
So today’s battle between first-place teams Valley West and Pittston Area will take place at Roosevelt Field in Swoyersville at 4:15 p.m.
Despite the change of locale and graduation of several key components to last year’s District 2 Class 4A title team, the Spartans (6-1) have gotten right back on track in 2008 and already hold a two-game lead in Division I West at the midpoint of the season.
“Well, I think they’re starting to come around and start believing in themselves,” Valley West coach John Milius said. “We had to get a bunch of new guys in there and they had to get a feel for each other. And it’s coming around.”
After losing down at Berwick to start the season, the Spartans have rattled off six wins in a row, outscoring opponents 59-12 so far in league play.
Helping matters greatly has been a three-man rotation that has mostly eliminated what could have been a precipitous drop-off in pitching.
Senior Evan Robaczewski and juniors Chris Pollick and Kris Moules have combined to post a team ERA of 1.27 over the first seven games, giving the Spartans a chance in every contest.
That’s gone a long way to replacing aces Casey Mulligan and Elliott Lauri from the past few successful seasons. Pollick and Robaczewski both got some experience on last year’s 14-0 squad in the regular season after Lauri was shelved by an injury.
Robaczewski leads the team with 20 strikeouts, while Pollick has 17. Moules hasn’t allowed a run in 13 innings of work.
“Those guys made cameo appearances last year and they’re taking advantage of things now,” Milius said. “And Moules has been a pleasant surprise. They’ve all thrown the ball well. They’re doing a nice job.”
Pitching will be especially important today against the Patriots (7-0), who have piled up 71 runs and are batting .358 as a team in league play. They lead Division I East by two games coming into the afternoon.
As there will be no East-West title game in Division I at the end of the regular season, this may be the closest the WVC gets to a championship matchup between the two sides of the river.
When: 4:15 p.m. today
Where: Roosevelt Field,
Pittston Area Patriots
Coach: Paul Zaffuto, 9th year
1. Carmen LoPresto, ss (Jr.)
2. Joe Dorbad, p (Jr.)
3. Sam Parente, 1b (Jr.)
4. Kyle Borino, dh (Jr.)
5. Rob Lemoncelli, 3b (Jr.)
6. Kevin Daley, lf (Jr.)
7. Paul Gattusso, cf (Jr.)
8. Carmen DeOrio, c (Jr.)
9. Nick Morreale, 2b (Jr.)
Kenny Smoke, rf (So.)
The skinny: The Patriots are on a quest for their fourth straight D2 3A title and fifth in the past six years.
Wyoming Valley West Spartans
Coach: John Milius, 3rd year
1. Andrew Tressa, ss (Jr.)
2. Ken Kufta, 2b (Sr.)
3. Ryan Geffert, 1b (Sr.)
4. Chris Decker, c (Sr.)
5. Kris Moules, lf (Jr.)
6. Ken Durling, rf (Jr.)
7. Matt Connelly, dh (Sr.)
8. George Alles, 3b (Jr.)
9. Jack Crossin, cf (Jr.)
Evan Robaczewski, p (Sr.)
The skinny: The defending D2 4A champs have allowed the fewest runs in the entire WVC.