The Wallenpaupack Area southpaw fired a complete game shutout against perennial powerhouse Valley View.
Pavel Sprague turned in one of the best pitching performances of the young season in leading Wallenpaupack Area to a razor-thin 1-0 win over Valley View.
The junior southpaw went the distance against a hard-hitting Cougars squad, working seven nearly flaw less frames en route to the mound decision.
“We've seen Pavel do this before, but I have to say it was definitely a pleasant surprise,” said Coach Todd Schmalzle.
“Valley View is a good team and for Pavel to hold them down like he did says an awful lot about him. He's a crafty lefty and when his curveball is working like that, he's very tough to hit.”
This victory was the first of the Lackawanna League campaign for Paupack after opening the year with four consecutive losses.
The Buckhorns will be back in action on Thursday afternoon at archrival Honesdale. First pitch for this Division II contest is slated for 4:30 p.m. at Keith Sutton Memorial Field.
Friday's battle between Paupack and Valley View had all the makings of a classic pitchers duel right from the start.
The Cougars rotation features two of the league's top strikeout artists in Colin Ferguson and Max Kranick, both of whom would see action in this one.
Sprague and Ferguson matched zeroes through the first three innings before the Buckhorns broke through for the game's lone tally.
Mike Henry did the honors. Paupack's veteran catcher roped an RBI single that plated lead-off man Joe Budnovitch, staking Sprague to a lead he would never relinquish.
“We've got four guys who are really swinging the bats well right now,” said Coach Schmalzle. “Joey got on base and Mike drove him in, but Alec Babyak and Danny Skibber are doing a great job, too.”
All four of these players are currently batting right around the .400 mark ... a fact that may just presage a second-half Lackawanna League run for the Bucks.
Henry has been right in the middle of most Paupack uprisings this spring. In fact, headed into the new week, Mike is tied for the Division II lead in hits.
Budnovitch and Babyak are also setting the pace with three doubles each.
“This was a huge win for us, we really needed it,” said Coach Schmalzle. “It's definitely a step in the right direction.
“If we stay focused and keep working hard, the ball will eventually start bouncing our way.”
With a 1-0 lead tucked safely in his back pocket, Sprague calmly went about the business of dominating Valley View batters.
Pavel pounded the strike zone from the bottom of the first to the last of the seventh. The junior mixed his speeds, changed arm angles and moved the ball around at will.
The results were stellar.
Sprague allowed just four singles through seven shutout innings. He struck out two and issued a pair of free passes.
“Pavel did a great job,” said Coach Schmalzle. “He isn't going to overpower anybody, but his fastball is deceptive. Pavel kept them off-balance all game long.”
The numbers don't lie.
Sprague faced 24 batters in this one and threw 18 first-pitch strikes. All told, he unleashed 91 pitches, 61 of which were strikes.
“When Pavel pitches like that, we have a chance to win against just about anybody.”
With this loss, Valley View's regular season mark fell to 3-2.
The Cougars are back in action Tuesday for a battle with top-ranked Delaware Valley. The Warriors are all alone atop the Division II standings at 5-0.
Paupack, meanwhile, was slated for a Monday road trip to Western Wayne, followed by a visit to the Maple City.
The Wildcats were still in search of their first win of the year, while the Hornets were holding steady at 2-2.
“I'm hoping we turned a little bit of a corner,” Coach Schmalzle said.
“If we can keep the momentum going and get a couple more wins, I think we'll be in good shape.”
Score by Innings...
WA (1-4) 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 - 1
VV (3-2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0