Wyoming Valley West catcher Christopher Decker gets the throw too late at home as Abington Heights’ Matt Mortell slides in safe during the second inning. Abington scored four times in the second to take a 5-1 lead, but Valley West rallied to pull out a 6-5 win.s. john wilkin/the times leader
SWOYERSVILLE — Two swings of the bat, combined together, created a spark. Chris Pollick was on both sides of them.
On the mound, he induced a critical double play to stop some heavy bleeding in the top of the second. At the plate, he started the recovery process with a two-out, two-run homer in the same inning.
Pollick helped turn what could have been a disappointingly early end to the season for Wyoming Valley West into another trip to the district championship.
The resilient Spartans rallied from an early four-run deficit to defeat Abington Heights 6-5 in the District 2-4 Class 4A semifinals on Thursday at Roosevelt Field.
“He’s a player – he steps up,” Valley West Coach John Milius said of Pollick, who earned the win in relief. “When the chips are down, that’s when he performs. He reaches down and turns himself inside-out … he’s got what it takes. Something that you can’t put your finger on. He just wants to win.”
With their 14th consecutive win on the season, the top-seeded Spartans (14-1) clinched their second straight District 2 4A crown, with D4’s Williamsport standing in the way of another trip to the state tournament. The two teams will face off on Wednesday at PNC Field in Moosic.
Early on, it didn’t look as if it was going to happen.
Abington jumped on Valley West starter Evan Robaczewski quickly, chasing him one out into the second with five hits and a 3-1 lead.
The fourth-seeded Comets got to Pollick at first as well, making it 5-1 and loading the bases until the Spartan junior got the clutch 6-4-3 double play behind him.
Pollick then struck back for the Spartans, launching the first pitch he saw over the short porch in right field for a two-run homer. He carried that momentum through the rest of the game, allowing just one hit in the final five innings of scoreless ball.
A steady diet of curveballs kept the Comets (9-7) off balance the rest of the way. Their only other threat came in the third when a pair of walks loaded the bases with one out, but Pollick got a pop-up and a grounder to second to escape.
“I just got in a groove and I just kept throwing and doing what I was doing,” said Pollick, who got a good scouting report on the Comets hitters from their quarterfinal win over Delaware Valley on Tuesday. “It just seemed to be working for me.”
Not to be overlooked in the comeback was a highlight game from cleanup hitter Chris Decker. The senior catcher picked up a hit in all three of his at-bats, driving in a run each time.
Decker doubled to drive in the Spartans’ first run in the opening frame and then drove in Ken Kufta on a well-executed hit-and-run in the third to close within 5-4. Another Decker single in the fifth knocked in Ryan Geffert to tie the score, and Ken Durling doubled to score the winning run just two batters later.
Cory Spangenburg and Ross Danzig each had a pair of RBI for Abington, which left eight runners stranded in the first three innings, stunting the momentum from the early lead.
“They’ve been in that situation before, they’ve gotten out of that situation before,” Abington Coach Bill Zalewski said of the Spartans. “They battle the whole game. They’re a very good ball club and our kids knew that.”
District 2 Class 4A semifinals
|Abington Heights||Wyoming Valley West|
|Umerich 2b||2||2||1||0||Tressa ss||2||1||0||0|
|Spangnbrg ss||3||1||1||2||Kufta 2b||3||1||1||0|
|Danzig 1b||4||0||2||2||Geffert 1b||4||1||1||0|
|Castellano lf||4||0||2||1||Decker c||3||0||3||3|
|Burke 3b||3||0||0||0||Moules lf||3||1||2||0|
|Smith rf||4||0||0||0||Durling rf||2||0||1||1|
|Mills cf||3||1||1||0||Alles 3b||0||0||0||0|
|Trotta p||0||0||0||0||Connelly dh||3||0||0||0|
|Pisanchyn p||0||0||0||0||Crossin cf||3||1||0||0|
|Pusateri dh||4||0||1||0||Rbczwski p||0||0||0||0|
|Mortell c||1||1||0||0||Pollick p||3||1||1||2|
|Wyoming Valley West||121||020||x||—||6|
2B – Umerich, Mills, Castellano, Decker, Geffert, Moules, Durling; HR – Pollick
|Pollick (W, 1-0)||5.2||3||0||0||5||3|