HANOVER TWP. – Mike Blazaskie could see it coming.
Then he made it happen.
Blazaskie belted a one-out single to left field in the bottom of the sixth inning to drive home Dominick Vitale with the winning run, lifting Hanover-1 over Jenkins Township 8-7 in a District 16 Little League Major Baseball tournament opener Saturday at John F. Sepko Memorial Field.
Blazaskie said he had to calm his nerves “a little bit,” while walking to the plate with one out and runners at the corners in the final frame of a tense game that was tied.
“But I was confident,” Blazaskie said.
Then he showed why.
After Jack Windt Jr. stole second, Blazaskie laced a two-strike shot into left field for his third hit of the game and second RBI single in as many at-bats as Vitale raced home from third base. The walk-off blow sent Hanover-1 into a frenzied celebration and into the tournament’s winners bracket for a second-round game against Plains on Monday at Sepko Field.
Jenkins Twp., which jumped to a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning and gallantly rallied to tie the game with a four-run sixth, dropped into the losers bracket of the double-elimination tourney and will host defending District 16 champion Mountain Top, also Monday.
“They played hard,” Jenkins Twp. manager Bob Razvillas said of his All-Stars. “It’s a couple of critical plays at this level.”
And a host of clutch hits that both teams seemed to keep finding.
Jenkins Twp. grabbed an early advantage, much to the delight of former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Andy Ashby – who lives in the Jenkins Twp. district and was in the crowd supporting his neighbors.
Mike Conlon scored for Jenkins Twp. on a bases-loaded walk in the second inning and Mike Havrilla and Vance Vaxmonsky delivered RBI singles in the third.
But Hanover-1 roared back with a five-run third inning, which ignited when Vitale lined a two-run, opposite-field homer over the left field wall. Jack Windt Jr. slammed his second double in as many innings in the middle of a two-run fourth that left Hanover-1 with a 7-3 lead.
But Jake Vaxmonsky blasted a homer in the fifth, starting a four-run Jenkins Twp. rally that tied the game, 7-7, and set up Blazaskie’s heroics.
“An 8-7 game with two good teams, that was fantastic,” said Hanover-1 coach Jack Windt Sr., praising the energy of his players. “It puts them way over the top, raises it through the roof.”
Mike Wozniak earned the win, fanning seven and only allowing three hits over three innings of work.
Derek Gebhart smacked a two-run homer in the bottom of the first to lead the winners.
Matt Madry had two doubles for Mountain Top. Abhay Metgud added a double.
Winning pitcher Joe Olszyk helped his own cause with a two-run homer.
Benny Sersen added a two-run homer for Nanticoke, while Connor Commier stole home in the first inning.
Bernie Kurtinitis homered for Pittston. Dustin Glasgow doubled and pitched a strong game, fanning seven.
Josh Benscoter slammed a walk-off home run in the bottom of the sixth as Ashley/Newport prevailed.
Kyle Sorber went 3-for-4 with a grand slam, while Tyler Myers and Bobby Kerestes each added two hits for the winners.
For Hanover-2, John Mitchell hit a pair of homers. His teammates Scott Glushefski, Jeff Sheridan and John Sheridan also went deep. Michael Steve took away a home run in the first inning by making a leaping catch in right field.
John Fagotti had 10 strikeouts and added two hits to pace Pittston Township. Peter Kulick added three hits, while Joe Corridoni added a homer.
Tyler Smallcomb doubled for South Wilkes-Barre.
Avoca/Dupont broke open a scoreless game with 10 runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Brandon Jopling had a double and single for Avoca/Dupont. Brandon Shamnoski and Bobby Swartz had two hits each. Winning pitcher Jordan Rose fanned six.
Duryea starter Tyler Woodruff pitched four scoreless innings before being replaced.
Jeremy Worlinsky had a huge day on the mound with 13 strikeouts in the complete-game shutout. He only allowed one hit and just one walk.
Jared Kozich was 2-for-4 with a homer to pace Forty Fort. He was also the winning pitcher, recording seven strikeouts.
Sam Lewis was 2-for-4 with two doubles for Forty Fort. Dustin Mattern was 2-for-4 with a double, while Timmy Walters added a double.
Rocky Rutkowski led Wyoming/West Wyoming with a 3-for-4 performance that included two home runs and a double. Louis Tumulas was 2-for-3 with a homer and double. Tino Rominelli was 2-for-4 with a double.
Wyoming/West Wyoming pitcher Marty Michaels had five strikeouts.
Winning pitcher Eric Gurzynski struck out 10 and received excellent backing from the offense.
Kevin Noble led the hitters with a homer and double. Curtis Whitmire and Logan Womelsdorf each had a double and single. Nick Long had a triple, Nick Eyerley had a double and Taylor Wedge added two hits.
Brady Darison led Plymouth with a double and single. Mike Baird and Carisa Bevon added a single each.
Michael Scalzo smacked a three-run home run and Cory Lescavage fired a one-hitter in a game halted after four innings by the 10-run rule.
Ryan Pesta drove home two runs while hitting a double and a single. Tyler Dougherty added two singles and also had two RBI.
Lescavage struck out seven of the 12 outs he recorded and didn’t walk anyone.
Chris Knecht had a single for Back Mountain National’s lone hit.