The Blue Devils and Lions met in the District 2 Class A championship game for the fifth straight time Monday and the first time with Old Forge seeking revenge.
Dave Chromey made sure the Blue Devils got the result they were looking for, throwing a three-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory in the first of four championship games held on Memorial Day at PNC Field in Moosic.
“We’ve been looking forward to that game,” Old Forge coach Tony DiMattia said. “We kind of had our eyes set on it from last year.
“We were really focused in practice on getting back to the district final and we were happy to see Trail there. We did not like watching them celebrate last season.”
Lackawanna Trail posted an 11-5 victory at Marywood University in last year’s championship game. It was the only time in the last seven years that Old Forge did not emerge as the District 2 champion and advance into the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class A state tournament.
The Blue Devils will be back on the state playoff road Monday against District 11 champion Tri-Valley. The game will be played at 3 p.m. at Stump Stadium in Pine Grove.
Old Forge found its way back to the state title with an extremely balanced attack both offensively and on the mound.
The Blue Devils have five players batting between .350 and .400 and all but one regular in the lineup is hitting better than .280.
Rightfielder/pitcher Derek Drasba has a team-high .388 average.
Third baseman Mike Vieira, in the leadoff spot, and catcher Steve Mascaro and rightfielder/pitcher Chromey, batting before and after Drasba, are all hitting at least .364.
Second baseman Matt Mancuso and first baseman Robert Donovan join them above the .300 mark.
“Our lineup is pretty well-rounded,” DiMattia said. “We set up our lineup to be designed where we think we can score a lot of runs.
“We have guys hitting in spots they wouldn’t normally hit, but it works best for our team.”
Shortstop Brenden Wahl is at .283 but leads the team in RBI from the sixth spot in the order.
“That’s why we put him there,” DiMattia said. “He seems to get better at-bats when the pitcher’s back is against the wall.”
Chromey has five wins while handling most of the team’s high-profile pitching assignments. Drasba and Tyler Cavalari have four wins each and both have earned run averages below 3.00.
It will be Chromey on the mound for the start Monday.
“When he has all four of his pitches going, he’s very difficult for teams to adjust to,” DiMattia said of Chromey, who throws a fastball, slider, curveball and a splitter that works as a changeup.