The Wyoming Valley Conference bats got off to a slow start, but Pittston Area coach Paul Zaffuto made sure the team never slowed down on the bases.
Taking an aggressive approach, the WVC forced an extra inning before falling to the Lackawanna League, 8-6, in eight innings June 2 in the first Field of Dreams baseball all-star game at PNC Field.
Zaffuto and his staff coached the WVC squad, which stole six bases and beat out three infield singles to rally from a five-run deficit without producing an extra-base hit.
“It’s nice to have speed on the bases,” Zaffuto said. “Every guy that got on, we said ‘we’re going to make them throw us out.’
“They didn’t throw us out all day.”
All three Wyoming Area players in the game scored during the five-run bottom of the sixth inning that allowed the WVC to force a 6-6 tie.
Jake Granteed got on with a one-out infield single. Trent Grove followed by drawing a walk. Bart Chupka reached on an infield single, driving in a run.
The rally created an exciting finish to a game that had the potential to turn into a blowout early when the Lackawanna League scored three runs in the top of the first and two more in the second for a 5-0 lead.
“This is some of the most fun I’ve had all year,” Zaffuto said. “The kids had a blast and so did I.”
Jordan Houseman, the only Patriot in the game, started at catcher. He was 0-for-2 at the plate and stole a base as a pinch runner in the game that had liberal substitutions.
Zaffuto would like to see the first-year event for seniors continue.
“I hope it does,” he said. “I only had one guy on the team, but he kept telling me, ‘ Coach, this is awesome.’”
Granteed led the strong Wyoming Area contributions. He was the first WVC pitcher to shut down the Lackawanna League, striking out one while giving up one hit in the scoreless third inning.
At the plate, Granteed singled and scored in his only appearance.
Chupka, who played first base, was 1-for-3 with the RBI. Grove, a catcher, was 0-for-2 with the walk.
“We had 20 guys on the team and all 20 were players,” Zaffuto said. “I asked them before the game that no matter what happens, they just hustle and give me everything that they got. Stay in the game and stay positive. And, they did it.”
Berwick’s Will Morales, the leadoff hitter, stole two bases for the WVC.
Scranton Prep’s Chris Gaetano was 2-for-3 with a stolen base and four runs scored to lead the Lackawanna League. He tripled and scored the winning run in the top of the eighth inning on a single by Valley View’s Liam Callejas.