Delaware Valley should be right in the thick of the title chase this spring
Last spring the Delaware Valley varsity baseball team claimed the Lackawanna League Division 1 title with a 9-3 record.
Despite their best efforts, the Warriors didn’t make it past the semifinal round in the District 2-4 Class 6A playoffs, falling to Hazleton Area 6-3.
For the past two seasons, the league followed a format where teams in the same division played each other three times over the course of a multi-day series.
This year, the divisions realigned back to a geographic nature that will pit DelVal twice against clubs closer to home ... namely Wallenpaupack Area, Honesdale, Western Wayne and North Pocono.
It's a scenario much more preferable than playing 6A schools. However, they also face crossover contests with Division I teams like Abington, Scranton, West Scranton, Valley View, and Scranton Prep.
The experiment had many critics, but one of its supporters was Delaware DV skipper Dave Peters.
“I liked the three-game format,” he said. “It forced teams to develop their pitching. We prepared for it and that’s what we do.
“They’ve been doing it that way across the border in Orange County for years.
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Although DV lost most of its heaviest hitters to graduation last spring, their bullpen is still pretty well stocked.
Seniors Devyn Fahnstock and RJ Kruse return to the mound and are poised to wreak some havoc on would-be hitters.
Fahnstock led the Warriors in strikeouts last season, sending down 54 batters over 33 innings and closing with a 2.76 ERA.
Kruse fanned 24 over a 34 inning stretch and ended his junior year with a 1.62 ERA.
“Our pitching is strong and will get stronger over the season,” said Coach Peters. “Our defense is pretty solid too. Our offense is something I was worried about when we started the season, but our guys have been doing a nice job.
“They’ve been hitting hard at practice and driving the ball more during games. We saw a lot of pop-ups early on, but they’ve been able to straighten them out and really drive the ball.”
Among those returning with swat are seniors Ryan Wingerter and James Conza. Wingerter tallied 13 hits, 13 runs, drove in seven, and massed a .260 average last season.
Conza chalked up 11 hits, six runs, seven RBIs, and ended last year with a .256 average.
Good So Far
DV has put two in the wins column already this season.
Despite several errors, the Warriors defeated Holy Redeemer on March 26 and through a solid combination of batting and pitching, sent Paupack packing, 6-2 this past Monday.
Fahnstock took to the mound versus the Royals and went four innings, striking out six while yielding two hits, two runs, and two walks.
Kruse relieved for part of the fifth inning sending two down on strikes while giving up three hits, a pair of runs, and a walk.
Junior Aedan Walter came in for part fifth as well, walking three and allowing a hit and a run.
That brought sophomore Aiden Oliver out of the pen to close, walking one and striking out two over 1.1 innings.
Warrior runs came courtesy of Kruse and juniors Matt Studsrud and Dean Pedone, each with two and Wingerter with one. Wingerter had two hits, Kruse doubled, Eric Peters, Conza, Zach Innella, and Pedone each had a hit.
Paupack’s Derrick Vosburg opened up that bout with a solo homer in the first facing Fahnstock, but DV struck back in the bottom of the frame when Wingarter doubled off Vosburg to drive in Eric Peters and Studsrud.
Kruse came home off an Innella single and Wingarter stole home to give the Warriors a 4-1 lead. Sophomore Alex Gardsy came in for Vosburg in the third.
Pedone tripled in the fourth to bring in Conza and Eric Segarra, making it a 6-1 game. The Buckhorns tallied one more run in the fifth when Jack Smith batted in TJ Schmalzle.
Fahnstock ended his shift with seven Ks, a walk, and two hits. Oliver came in to close and went two innings, giving up a walk and a hit to get the save.
“We got lucky today,” Coach Peters said following the Paupack game. “We made some mental mistakes and some physical errors.
“Against North Pocono or another upper echelon team, this game would have been different, but I was happy with Devyn’s and Aiden’s pitching and pleased with how we hit.”
On the Card
DelVal has a mix of contests slated for the rest of the month. The Warriors head to Pine Buch on 4/5 then travel to Honesdale on 4/8.
Division favorite North Pocono comes to the banks of the river on 4/11 and then it’s back on the bus for the local lads as they set off to Scranton on 4/15.
West Scranton visits on 4/17 and two on the road for DV, an 11 a.m. battle with Vernon on 4/20 and Prep on 4/22.
Valley View visits on 4/25; more windshield time to Abington Heights on 4/27 and off to Paupack on 4/29 to close out April.