Wallenpaupack Area's varsity baseball team battles the elements
Hampered by the late-winter storm and its after effects for the better part of the last two weeks, Wallenpaupack Area’s varsity baseball team finally hit the field to play a game Thursday when they welcomed the Dunmore Bucks to the shores of the Big Lake.
Originally slated as an away game, the Paupack diamond fared better than some venues throughout the Lackawanna League and thus the matchup was moved.
“We struggled offensively at first,” said Buckhorns skipper Todd Schmalzle. “We hadn’t faced live pitching in weeks since our trip to Maryland.”
Prior to the blizzard blanketing the region in a deep snowpack, the Bucks made a pre-season trek to the Chesapeake Bay town of St. Michael’s, Maryland on March 11.
On the road trip, the Buckhorns started senior Austin Gilpin who gave up no runs in the first two innings. They switched to senior Aaron Husson in the bottom of the third, who gave up one run.
Senior Chris Brindle scored on a wild pitch in the top of the fourth to tie things up, but Husson gave up three more runs in the bottom of the inning before being relieved by classmate Mitchell Guerrieri with two outs.
Although senior Morgan Theobald singled to drive home junior Ty Holbert in the top of the fifth, St. Michael’s tallied four more runs off a combination of errors and singles to make it a 9-2 ballgame.
That, would be the last the Buckhorns would hear from their hosts.
Junior Max Alessi doubled in the top of the sixth to send Brindle across the plate and a groundout by sophomore Derrick Vosburg allowed Guerrieri to score later in the inning.
Down 9-4, the southpaw, Brindle, staved off further advance by St. Michael’s in the bottom of the sixth and then Wallenpaupack rallied, with two out, in the top of the seventh big time.
A walk put Theobald on first and he scored off a double from junior Tyler Kirsten. Gilpin drove in Kirsten, then a few plays later, Guerrieri singled to send in Gilpin and Brindle.
They tied it up 9-9 when Alessi scored off a single by Vosburg. No extra innings meant the Buckhorns had to settle for a draw, but it’s still a better than a loss.
Paupack went with Gilpin again when they welcomed Dunmore last week.
The senior notched a pair of strikeouts in the first inning before Alessi picked off a would-be base thief with a throw to Kirsten at second to retire the side.
Although Gilpin send eight more batters down on strikes through three more innings on the hill, then the Buckhorns bats woke up in the bottom of the fourth.
Alessi singled with one out and Guerrieri walked. Alessi then stole third and subsequently scored on a fielder’s choice put in play by Vosburg.
He was safe at first, Guerrieri moved to third and then both plated on line drive to right off the wood of junior Zach Maldacker, back off a season’s hiatus living out of the school district.
Dunmore stopped the rally with a double play, but the Paupack gents were on the board with a 3-0 lead.
Guerrieri took to the mound in the top of the fifth and gave up a pair of singles, but sent one down looking and two more down swinging, then it was back to the bats for the Bucks.
With two outs, Theobald scored on a 1-0 wild pitch. Brindle walked, moved to second on a pass ball, and then came home on a single from Alessi. Guerrieri later drove in Alessi to make it 6-0 before the end of the inning.
Paupack went down in order in the sixth, but Guerrieri held fast on the hill and closed the night out with two more Ks, for a total of six, to give the Buckhorns their first win of the season.
Over & Out
“Both Austin and Mitchell threw really well,” said Schmalzle.
“Austin was throwing very hard and I expect him to increase in speed and power as the season goes on. Mitchell is a very crafty pitcher with an arsenal of pitches to call on.
“If something’s not working for him, he goes on to something that does.”
Offensively, the Buckhorns really spread things around. As expected, the seniors have been performing well but younger talent has gotten in on the action as well.
“I’m very pleased with Maldacker and Alessi so far,” Schmalzle said. “Zach has good power and Max is a big, strong kid too that come into his own physically as well.
“Derrick is another player that made good contributions for us and I expect him to play important roles as the season goes on.”
Paupack is away versus Scranton on Thursday and East Stroudburg South on Saturday.
The Bucks return home for a battle against Western Wayne on April 12. They then begin a three-game series with North Pocono, away on April 17, home on April 20, and away again on April 22.