Wallenpaupack Area's baseball team will battle Crestwood for 5A crown
The Wallenpaupack Area varsity baseball team punched its ticket to the District Two Class 5A championship game shutting out Pittston Area last Wednesday.
The Patriots upset fourth seeded Wilkes Barre Coughlin in the opening round, winning 5-4 to advance to the semifinal round versus Paupac.
The Buckhorns, who went 10-2 in Lackawanna League and 14-2 overall, earned the top seed and the only first round bye in the seven-team tournament.
It was a great day for a ball game. The air was warm, the skies were slightly overcast, and the winds were light.
Taking to the hill for the Purple & White was ace righty Aaron Husson, who was looking to build on his perfect 4-0 record.
The senior slinger surrendered a single to the lead-off batter but a sacrifice bunt to third baseman Austin Gilpin was easily fielded for an out.
Husson sent the next batter down looking and a fly ball caught by Morgan Theobald in center ended the top of the first.
“Our plan was to score early and establish a lead,” said Buckhorns Head Coach Todd Schmalzle.
“If we get an early lead our pitchers can make it very difficult for the other team’s batters.”
Plan in Action
The plan worked.
Theobald led off with a single on a bunt in the bottom of the first. The senior then stole second and was chased home on a one-out single by sophomore Derrick Vosburg.
A groundout and a flyout doused Paupack’s chances but not for long.
Pittston went down in order in the top of the second. Husson struck out the first batter he faced. A flyout to freshman Izaiah Santiago in left followed, and Husson got the last batter looking.
Three up, three down and the Bucks were back in the batter’s box.
A one-out walk put junior Adam Sands on first. Next up, Santiago. He walked as well. Back to the top of the order and Theobald walked.
Junior Tyler Kirsten walked and Sands came home … 2-0, Bucks.
Vosburg came to the plate and roped a single which scored Santiago to make it 3-0.
Junior Max Alessi grounded into a fielder’s choice which forced out Vosburg but let Theobald score, 4-0.
Finally, Kirsten crossed the plate on a wild pitch before a ground out ended the Buckhorns run, but they established a 5-0 lead that would hold through the remainder of the game.
“We did a good job and got out early,” Theobald said. “Aaron did a great job on the mound for five and a third innings.”
Things progressed rather briskly after the second inning.
Batters from both clubs went down in order several times, but Paupack held on to the lead and secured the win.
During his time on the hill, Husson gave up four hits and a walk but added seven Ks to his tally.
After 88 pitches, Gilpin came in midway through the sixth and notched a pair of strikeouts for the save.
“Husson threw a great game but his pitch count was getting up there and with three other pitchers waiting to throw, we brought in Gilpin to close and he did a great job,” said Coach Schmalzle.
Offensively, Theobald led with two runs and a hit. Vosburg tallied a pair of hits and two RBIs. Kirsten and Alessi each batted one run in while Kirsten scored once as did Santiago and Sands.
In total, five Buckhorns walked and only two went down on strikes.
“Pittston has a lot of good hitters,” Husson stated.
“I just kept pounding the strike zone and kept us in the game.”
“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing at practice over the next few days,” Husson said.
“We have some little things to fine tune and we can’t take a break.”
Weather and the duration of other games slated earlier that day, Paupack will face second-seeded Crestwood (10-5) on Sunday at PNC Field in Moosic with the first pitch at 6:30 p.m.
The Comets seared North Pocono 4-2 in the opening round, and then advanced to the finals after beating Wyoming Valley West, 4-3, on Wednesday.
“Sunday is a new game,” Theobald said. “We made winning the district title a goal in our off-season and it’s something we’ve been striving for all year.
“We still have work to do but we’re excited to be going to the finals.”