Wyoming Area extends division lead with WVC baseball win over Tunkhannock
May 05. 2014 11:51PM
By Derek Levarse - email@example.com
TUNKHANNOCK — With the bases loaded against him in the fifth, Zach Lopatka calmly delivered.
The Wyoming Area senior reached back and struck out Tunkhannock’s cleanup hitter with two outs, and walked back to the dugout without any theatrics.
A big moment in an otherwise comfortable 8-2 Warriors win Monday, one that pushed them a bit closer to a WVC Division 2 title.
“Things don’t bother Zach,” Wyoming Area coach Dean Carey said with a smile. “I like that. He doesn’t show too much emotion either way. … Cool, calm and collected.
“Good pitching is what you need down the stretch. This was a big win for us today.”
With the season sweep of the Tigers, Wyoming Area (6-6 WVC) moved two up in the win column over second-place Dallas (4-6). The two teams are scheduled to play Wednesday.
The Warriors have had to break in a host of new starters this season after reaching the district semifinals in 2013. On Monday, it was two veterans who led the way.
Lopatka and junior Joe Gavenonis both had strong performances in the victory. The lefty Lopatka went the distance on the mound and struck out five for the win, including that clutch K to end the fifth. At the plate, he doubled and drove in three runs.
Gavenonis reached base in all four plate appearances, drawing three walks and adding an RBI single.
“They played on a senior-laden team last year, and we try to lean on those two,” Carey said. “We count on them, and they stepped up today.”
Jeremy Zezza’s run-scoring double in the top of the first gave the Warriors a quick 3-0 lead that Lopatka made stand up the rest of the way.
But it was the fourth inning that put the game out of reach as the Warriors pushed four across. Three consecutive bunts to lead off the frame had the Tigers (4-8) scrambling before Gavenonis knocked in a run.
Lopatka then delivered his big double to bring home two more before Tyler Mitchell made it 7-1 with a sacrifice fly, robbed of extra bases thanks to a terrific over-the-shoulder catch by Hunter Hopkins in right.
Hopkins was one of two freshmen who started in the field for the Tigers, along with first baseman Connor Hulslander. In all, the Tigers played three freshmen and six sophomores at some point during Monday’s game.
“They’ve grown mentally and they’ve grown fundamentally,” Tunkhannock coach Gary Custer said of his young roster. “They’re going to be stronger. They’re going to throw the ball harder. They’re going to swing the bat faster. All of that is still to come, so I’m optimistic.”
It was one of the seniors, Sean Soltysiak, who continued to pace the team at the plate. The impressive shortstop blasted his league-leading fourth home run to lead off the bottom of the fourth and finished 2-for-2 with a walk.
Sophomores Cody Brown (2-for-3, double) and Austin Burke (single, RBI) also chipped in.
“You know when you come up here, you’re always gonna get a game,” Carey said. “So to come out with a win, we’re fortunate. That’s a tough team to beat, and a class team, too.
“I was proud of our guys. They came out to play today.”