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Late-inning magic turns table on Pittston Area

Patriots lose late lead to AH

Above, Pittston Area’s Ron Musto slides safely into second base for a double against Nanticoke. Below, PA third baseman Anthony Schwab tags out a Nanticoke runner.

photos by charlotte bartizek

Pittston Area’s Tyler Loftus smacks a single for the Patriots.

Photo by Charlotte Bartizek

Pittston Area had the tables turned on them Friday afternoon as Abington Heights rallied with 10 runs in the final three inning – including five runs in the top of the seventh - to earn a 10-7 win and knock the Patriots out of the District 2 Class 3A tournament at the Bucky Harris Sports Complex in Hughestown.

The third-seeded Patriots took a 5-0 lead into the fifth inning as starter Jordan Bone cruised through the first four innings.

But the Comets finally got to Bone in the fifth, scoring two runs to chase the lefty as Pittston Area went to Chuck Bressler in relief. Abington Heights got to Bressler as well, scoring three runs off the junior in one inning of work to tie the game at 5-5 entering the home half of the sixth.

The Patriots scored what seemed like two insurance runs in the sixth to push its advantage to 7-5, but the Comets went to work in the seventh off of PA closer Kyle Callahan.

Abington scored four earned runs off of the righty on four hits and two walks to take a 10-7 lead.

Pittston Area put the tying runs on base in their last at-bat on two walks and a single but could not get those runners across the plate as their season ended with the loss.

Anthony Schwab led the PA offense with two hits and three RBI, and Ron Musto blasted a solo home run among his two hits. Bone also smacked two hits and drove in a run for the Patriots who ended their season at 12-5.

PA 14, Nanticoke 8

Everything seemed set up for a Pittston Area victory.

They were playing a Nanticoke team that entered the game with only three wins, and although they had previously beaten Nanticoke Area twice – each time by one run – they were a heavy favorite coming into the game as the third-seed in the District 2 Class 3A playoffs.

But no one told Nanticoke they were supposed to play the patsy.

The Trojans led the Patriots for five and two-thirds innings and had the Wyoming Valley Conference Division I-East champion on the ropes before Pittston Area rallied for 11 two-out runs in the bottom of the sixth to earn a 14-8 win on Wednesday in a PIAA District 2 Class 3A playoff game at the Bucky Harris Sports Complex in Hughestown.

“We’ve never been in that big of a deficit that late in a game,” Pittston Area coach Paul Zaffuto said. “I gave them two options - either we can quit and go home, or we can be our natural pain-in-the-rump selves, and that’s what they decided to do.”

PA starter James Castellino struck out two as Nanticoke Area went three-up, three-down in the top of the first. Tyler Loftus was hit by a pitch but was stranded on base as the first inning ended 0-0.

In the bottom of the second, Ron Musto led off with a walk and AJ Mancini took his spot at first as a courtesy runner. Mancini then stole second and advanced to third on the throw before Josh Razvilla came up with a single to score Mancini and give the Patriots a 1-0 lead.

Anthony Schwab followed with a single and Jordan Bone hit a two-out double to drive in Razvilla for a 2-0 advantage.

The Trojans answered with three runs in the top of the third to take a 3-2 lead before relief pitcher Chuck Bressler struck out the final batter to stop Nanticoke’s offense.

In the bottom of the fourth, Schwab hit a one-out single and Bone followed with a two-out infield single to advance the runner. Tyler Loftus then stroked an RBI single, scoring Schwab and tying the game at 3-3.

Nanticoke scored five runs in the top of the fifth to take an 8-3 lead before Kyle Callahan shut down the Trojans in the top of the sixth

Josh Savakinus started the PA rally by drawing a two-out walk before RJ Emmett followed with a single. A Musto single drove in Savakinus, and Emmett scored on a wild play when Brian Delaney slid into first to beat the throw and the throw got away from the Nanticoke first baseman.

Razvilla then drew a walk and Schwab hit a bases clearing double to tie the game at 8-8.

Matt Antal drew a base on balls and Bone followed up with a run-scoring single. Loftus drew a walk to load the bases and Savakinus – who started the rally with a walk – drew another walk, scoring a run for a 10-8 lead. Emmett and Musto then smacked back-to-back RBI singles.

After all was said and done, 11 runs crossed the plate and 14 batters came to the plate.

With a six run lead, Callahan got the first two batters out in the top of the seventh before giving up a single. The next batter hit a hot shot directly back at him, but Callahan was aware enough to knock the ball to the ground and throw to first, moving the WVC Division 1-East Champions to the next round.

“Being down by five runs in the sixth inning with two outs, to come back like that is a big boost to our confidence,” Zaffuto said.

PA 5, Crestwood 7

Despite a 7-5 loss to Crestwood last Saturday, Pittston Area clinched the Wyoming Valley Conference Division I-East championship when Holy Redeemer fell to Hazleton. It is the Patriots third WVC Division crown in the past four seasons.

In the upset loss to the Comets, Pittston Area surrendered an uncharacteristic four unearned runs in the first three innings to fall behind 4-1 with senior Jordan Bone on the mound. Bone allowed just two hits without a walk in three innings of work but was charged with the loss.

The Patriots fell behind 7-2 before rallying with three runs in the bottom of the seventh, but it was not enough as Crestwood held on for the win.

Freshman Josh Razvilla led the PA offense with three hits in three at-bats. RJ Emmett added a double and single for the Patriots, and Brian Delaney smacked two hits and drove in two runs.

PA 13, Holy Redeemer 11

Pittston Area ended its WVC season with a wild 13-11 win over Holy Redeemer on Monday afternoon at the Bucky Harris Sports Complex in Hughestown.

RJ Emmett led the offense with two hits and three RBI.

Tyler Loftus added two hits and three runs scored for Pittston Area, and Josh Savakinus and Anthony Schwab each chipped in with two hits.

Dispatch Staff Writer Rick Notari contributed to this report.

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