KINGSTON — When Berwick’s Brian Pinterich filled out his lineup card for opening day, seven of the 10 names were seniors. Eight had played in last season’s district title game.
Not a bad luxury for a coach to have.
That combination of experience and talent came through right away for the Bulldogs, who handed Wyoming Valley West a rare five-inning loss on Tuesday, opening the season with a 13-1 win at Spartan Stadium.
“That’s a great start for us,” said Pinterich, who won at Valley West for the first time in his seven seasons at Berwick. “We’re senior-laden, and our seniors stepped up right away with some big hits. They say hitting is kind of contagious, and it was today.
“To be a great team, we have to take that next step offensively, too. And I thought this was a great indication.”
The Bulldogs (1-0) pounded out 14 hits spread out among eight players. Starter Clay DeNoia allowed just two hits in four innings of work on a frigid day that saw part of the WVC schedule postponed.
And through it all, last year’s Class 3A runner-up in District 2 handled everything in a very business-like fashion.
Despite the outburst against one of the district’s most consistently successful teams — the Spartans had won another D2-4A title in 2012 — the veteran Bulldogs were fairly subdued.
At least, that is, until the top of the fifth when Joey Favata slammed a 1-2 pitch over the fence in right-center toward Pierce Street for a three-run homer.
That made it 13-0 and ensured that the game wouldn’t go the full seven innings.
Another senior, Eric May, got it all started for Berwick in the first. Valley West starter Dan Flaherty was one pitch away from getting out of a bases-loaded jam without any damage. But May lined a double on a full count to clear the bases and set the the tone for the afternoon.
“We got that big double and then got out of the (second) inning up 7-0, and saw kind of the deflation on their faces a little bit,” Pinterich said. “It’s cold, and you get down on yourselves a little bit.
“I was happy with our guys. We didn’t sit on the lead.”
It certainly wasn’t the best atmosphere for a rally. With strong winds making an already cold day that much worse for the players, the Spartans (0-1) struggled to generate any momentum. An RBI single by Evan McCue in the fifth broke the shutout.
Valley West has a handful of starters back from last year’s state tournament team, but the Spartans have a tough challenge in replacing top pitchers Tommy Alexander and Matt Zielen, who graduated.
“You can’t walk that many guys in five innings,” Spartans coach John Milius said. “We just didn’t throw strikes. … You fall behind like that, it’s tough to bounce back. You fall behind in the count and you have to come in (with your pitches), and they got tattooed.”
Favata led Berwick, going 3-for-3 with five RBI. May (2-4, three RBI), Will Morales (3-4, RBI) and Anthony Melito (2-3, three runs) also had big days at the plate.
Berwick 13, Wyoming Valley West 1 (5 inn.)
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