Paupack may have struggled a bit on the varsity diamond the past few years, but if the play of the current junior high team is any indication then the future is looking bright.
It took the young Buckhorns a long time to get on the field this spring, but when they finally did ... well, let's just say they made up for lost time.
On Thursday afternoon, Coach Mike Lorady's lads paid a visit to Honesdale and ran roughshod over the Hornets.
This was the Lackawanna League opener for both squads and it took a little time to knock off the rust. However, when the final out was recorded Paupack had pounded out a 14-1 victory.
"I'm pretty pleased with how we played overall," said Coach Lorady. "We started off slow, but the kids picked it up as the game went along. And, its always good to start with a win."
Paupack only posted a .500 record last season, but the Bucks made significant progress from start to finish.
"We won six of our last seven games and that was great to see," Coach Lorady said. "We've got five kids back who started as seventh graders, so that's a nice nucleus to build around."
Mitchell Guerrieri earned the starting nod for Paupack and simply dominated Red & Black batters.
A fireballing righthander, Guerrieri used his fastball and a nasty array of breaking pitches to stifle Honesdale hitters.
Mitchell worked five innings on Opening Day en route to the decision. He allowed just three hits and one run while piling up eight strikeouts.
"He's our number one, no question about it," Coach Lorady said. "For an eighth grader, his mechanics are picture perfect. Mitch can overpower you, but he can also move the ball around and hit his spots."
Page 2 of 3 - Paupack scratched out a 2-1 lead through four, but then broke things wide open in the final three frames.
The Buckhorns pushed across 12 runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh to seal the deal on a lopsided win.
Chris Brindle paced the Paupack attack. Another eighth grader who pitches and plays first, Brindle leads off for the Bucks.
On Thursday, he reached base five times on three walks and a pair of singles. Brindle tallied two runs and drove in two more.
"Chris Brindle is one of the best all-round baseball players I've ever coached at this level," Coach Lorady said. "He can hit, pitch and play Gold Glove defense."
Austin Gilpin also dazzled at the dish and in the field.
An eighth grader who serves as a tri-captain with Guerrieri and Brindle, Gilpin will bat in the 3-hole and split time defensively between short and third.
Paupack's talented young infielder doubled in the top of the first, worked a pair of walks and scored three runs.
"Austin is solid with the bat and can play anywhere on the infield," said Coach Lorady. "He's a good hitter and with a good glove."
Corbin Babyak also earned high marks from his mentor. Another returner who starts at second, Babyak is a steady presence in the middle infield and at the top of the order.
"Corbin is the perfect kid to have batting second," said Coach Lorady. "He can poke singles anywhere and handles the bat really well."
Over & Out
Weather permitting, the Bucks are scheduled to be back in action Wednesday afternoon at Ding-Del.
First pitch for this contest is set for 4:30 p.m.
Page 3 of 3 - Coach Lorady, who is in his eighth year at the junior high helm is excited about this team's prospects.
"Having all those eighth graders back is huge," he said. "My three captains especially are giving us excellent leadership so far."
Score by Innings...
WAL (1-0) 1 1 0 0 2 3 7 - 14
HON (0-1) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 - 1