Above, Greater Pittston shortstop Chris Murphy fields a ball against Plains in a Wyoming Valley American Legion playoff game in Rice Township on Monday night. Below left, Plains DH Jordan Bone smacks one of his two doubles during his team’s win over GP. Below right, GP third baseman Ryan Carey makes a play.Photos by BILL TARUTIS
Greater Pittston’s Nick O’Brien, left, is safe at second as Plains’ Jordan Sod’s tag is late.photo by BILL TARUTIS
After being bounced from the postseason last year by Greater Pittston, Plains was hoping to exact revenge this season.
Plains, which entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed, defeated top-seeded GP for the second time in three days on Monday to oust the defending Wyoming Valley American Legion League champions with an 11-6 victory.
Plains lost to Back Mountain in Tuesday’s title game, but both teams have wrapped up a berth in the Region 5 Tournament, which begans yesterday in Bloomsburg.
“The kids are going to be fired up,” Plains manager Don Stark said. “We’ve got to play sound defense. We’ve got to throw strikes and get ahead early. We’d like to go in with a little confidence and just see where the cards fall.”
On Monday, Plains opened a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single by Josh Savakinus and never looked back. A run-scoring hit from Dom Gulius (2-for-4) in the third gave Plains a 2-0 advantage before Greater Pittston even had a hit against starting pitcher Bob Sorokas.
Greater Pittston trimmed the deficit to 2-1 when P.J. Bone singled home Randy McDermott.
But that’s the closest GP would get, as Plains kept tacking on runs. Plains scored two more in the fourth and added another in the fifth to push the lead to 5-1 entering the bottom of the fifth.
Greater Pittston, who has won 12 WVAL titles, closed the gap to 5-2 in the fifth, but again Plains didn’t stop as it poured on six more in the seventh with 10 batters coming to the plate to take a commanding 11-2 lead.
“The past couple games, the at-bats haven’t really been there, but today we just kind of unloaded,” said Plains designated hitter Jordan Bone, who was 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two RBI. “I think we just really needed a win against them and we saw the ball well.”
Greater Pittston showed why it was the top seed in the bottom of the seventh not giving up, but eventually running out of gas after batting around and scoring four times on five hits.
It just seemed to be Plains’ day as the offense even broke out against GP pitcher Anthony Bellino, who always seems to pitch perfectly against his rivals. Plains notched three runs in just 2/3 of an inning against the righty.
“You’ve got to continue to put on runs because they’re capable of putting up eight, nine, 10 in an inning,” Stark said. “We never felt comfortable with any lead that we had.”
Sorokas picked up the win, going five innings and only giving up three hits and two runs. He fanned two and walked three. Dylan Concini and Justin Okun each had two hits for the winners, with Okun knocking in three.
Andre Harris belted a three-run double for Greater Pittston, while McDermott was the team’s lone multiple hitter going 2-for-2 and scoring three runs.
Pittston Area grad James Castellino pitched the final two innings for Plains and also added a run-scoring single for Plains.
Greater Pittston bounced back from its loss to Plains in the opening round of the WVAL Post-Season Tournament with a 3-2 win over Nanticoke on Sunday afternoon in Mountain Top.
Nick O’Brien’s sixth-inning solo homer proved to be the difference for GP. O’Brien also singled and drove in an additional run for the defending champs who stayed alive in the four-team, double-elimination tournament.
PJ Bone and Kody Nowicki also added two hits each for Greater Pittston, and Ron Musto chipped in with a single.
Andre Harris scattered six singles and four walks over 6.1 innings while striking out six and allowing two earned runs. Sam Eramo earned the save for GP.
Greater Pittston had no answer for Plains righty Anthony Grillini as the defending WVAL champs opened the championship tournament with an 8-0 loss to their league-rival last Saturday at Mountain Post.
Plains, which lost to Greater Pittston last year in the championship game, and twice during the season, entered the game with payback in mind.
The team showed a little extra motivation early on, jumping out to a 2-0 lead before an out was recorded in the first inning. Plains kept piling up the runs, getting single runs in the second, fourth and sixth and two in the third. Grillini (2-for-4) and Pittston Area grad Josh Savakinus (3-for-3) led the offense with two run-scoring hits apiece.
Chris Murphy and Kody Nowicki each had two hits for Greater Pittston.