Joe Champi now calls it the best decision his ever made.
The decision to return to baseball for his senior year at Pittston Area, however, was not one that Champi made alone.
“Earlier in the school year, some of my friends on the baseball team were hounding me,” Champi said. “After weeks of them being on me, I said ‘why not’?”
Champi made up his mind in October and picked up a baseball bat in November for the time in more than two years to begin getting ready for the season.
The results in April continue to be astounding.
Champi’s status as the biggest impact newcomer in the Wyoming Valley Conference continued Monday when he earned the Andy Ashby Most Valuable Player award when the Patriots went to rival Wyoming Area for a 5-3 victory.
Batting third as he has all season, Champi was part of an effort in which the top four batters all produced two hits for the Patriots, who never trailed.
“Our whole lineup has been doing well, but especially the top half the lineup,” Champi said.
Josh Razvillas has been igniting the offense from the leadoff spot. He went 2-for-3 with a double and scored the team’s first two runs.
Tyler McGarry went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI single in the third inning to put the Patriots ahead to stay.
Champi went 2-for-3 with a run scored and reached another time when he was hit by a pitch. In his first at-bat, Champi hit a line drive through an infielder’s glove for a two-base error that drove in the game’s first run.
Michael Schwab also went 2-for-3 from the clean-up spot.
Champi, who received a trophy from Ashby after the game, credited coach Paul Zaffuto with reminding the players not to place so much importance on the Ashby Game that they became uptight and did not play well.
That continued a thought process Zaffuto has been emphasizing since early in the season.
“One thing we have stressed is that you have to have fun playing,” Zaffuto said. “The last couple of years, they weren’t having fun. We were coming out like it was a job.”
John Faggotti, Michael Schwab and Justin Glasgow combined on a six-hitter for the Patriots.
Faggotti started and went 5 1/3 innings for the win, giving up two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three.
Schwab entered the game with the bases loaded and one out. He retired both batters he faced, allowing only one of the runs to score.
Glasgow earned the save by giving up just one hit and an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh.
Kyle Turonis and Kyle O’Fier each had a hit and each drove in a run in the fifth inning when Pittston Area built its lead to 5-1.
Joey Gavenonis went 3-for-4 with two RBI to lead the Wyoming Area offense. Corey Lescavage added two hits for the Warriors.
Pittston Area 9
Josh Razvillas hit one ball over the fence and another to the fence at Tunkhannock while leading Pittston Area to a 9-5 win Wednesday.
Razvillas finished 2-for-4 with a double, home run and three RBI.
Winning pitcher Michael Schwab also contributed offensively. Schwab did not allow an earned run in six innings while giving up five hits and a walk and striking out five. He also doubled, scored twice and drove in a run.
Mike Delaney, who drove in two runs, and Tyler McGarry had two hits each.
Holy Redeemer 6
Pittston Area 4
The Patriots (5-3) dropped to fourth place in a competitive WVC Division 1 race and fell two games behind first-place Hazleton Area when they were upset by Holy Redeemer, 6-4, Friday.
The Royals scored runs in five of their six at-bats.
Mike Delaney, who drove in a run, and Michael Schwab had two hits each. Mike Carey, who drove in two runs, and Josh Razvillas doubled.
Wyoming Area 21
Scranton Prep 12
Wyoming Area picked up a win in non-league play Tuesday by defeating visiting Scranton Prep, 21-12.
Wyoming Area 8
Coughlin scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday to rally past Wyoming Area, 9-8.
Evan Musto led the Warriors with a double, single, two runs scored and an RBI.
Bryant Clark drove in two runs.