D2 baseball: Mid Valley wins pitchers’ duel vs. Hanover Area in 3A semifinals

By Dave Rosengrant - For Times Leader
Hanover Area’s Todd Kolbicka throws the ball to first base during Friday’s game against Mid Valley. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Hanover Area’s Matt Clarke (33) fist bumps teammate Justin Stefanowicz after an inning against Mid Valley. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Hanover Area’s Justin Stefanowicz reacts to being called out at second base during Friday’s Class 2A semifinal game in Hanover Township. Stefanowicz’s single to get on base was the lone hit of the day for the Hawkeyes. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Hanover Area’s Matt Clarke went the distance and struck out 10 in Friday’s district semifinals, allowing just four hits. - - Sean McKeag | Times Leader

HANOVER TWP. — Matt Clarke pitched one of the best games of his career on Friday afternoon in the District 2 Class 3A semifinals against Mid Valley.

Unfortunately for the Hanover Area pitcher and his team, Mid Valley’s Justin Gohsler also tossed the best game of his career as the Spartans eliminated the Hawkeyes from the tournament with a 1-0 win.

Clarke scattered four hits, struck out 10 and didn’t walk anyone in the complete game. Gohsler also went the distance, giving up just one hit and one walk and fanned nine while not allowing a Hanover Area baserunner to reach second base the entire game.

“Justin Gohsler was absolutely amazing today,” Mid Valley coach Ryan Kropa said. “We knew what a great hitting team they were and we knew we had to keep them off balance and his curveball was on today like no other. He was locating better than he has all year. He was good all year around, but he was on another level today.”

The only trouble that Clarke got in during the game didn’t even seem like a problem because it happened so fast.

In the top of the sixth, No. 8 hitter Mark Longo led off with a bunt single. Giovanny Lopez then attempted a bunt of his own to advance the runner, but a wild pitch moved the runner to second. Kropa took off the bunt signal on the next pitch and Lopez hit the ball through the infielders, who were playing halfway because of the possible bunt. Longo raced home for the game’s only run.

“Baseball’s a funny game. Sometimes the ball bounces and rolls your way, and today was one of those days for us,” Kropa said.

After that, Clarke retired the final six batters of the contest and only faced three batters over the minimum in the outing. The senior didn’t allow any extra-base hits and the only runner to advance past second base was Longo.

“Matt’s been a gamer his whole career. The last two years we were using him as a closer and he’s turned into a district semifinal starter and he threw a heck of a game,” Hawkeyes coach Mike Zapotoski said. “You can’t ask him to do anything more.”

Gohsler allowed a walk to Sean Hart in the second inning for the Hawkeyes’ first baserunner. He didn’t allow a hit until two outs in the fourth when Justin Stefanowicz singled but was thrown out trying to advance to second.

Playing in Division 3 in the Wyoming Valley Conference with tough teams like Holy Redeemer, Meyers and Wyoming Seminary, the Hawkeyes weren’t expected to finish with a 13-1 record. But they won the division by three games over Wyoming Seminary and fell one win shy of advancing to the state tournament.

“In baseball, the best team doesn’t always come out on top. I think, unfortunately, that happened today,” Zapotoski said.

Mid Valley receives an automatic berth to the state tournament and will face Lakeland in Tuesday’s district championship game at PNC Field at 7:30 p.m.

Lakeland 7, Meyers 1

In the other 3A semifinal, the top-seeded Chiefs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first and led the entire way, as Dom Verrastro pitched six scoreless innings for the win.

The No. 5 Mohawks ended the shutout bid on Anthony Macko’s RBI in the seventh. They finished their season at 12-5.

CLASS 2A SEMIFINALS

Northwest 8, Mountain View 7 (8 inn.)

Connor Hazlet hit a bases-loaded single up the middle with no one out in the bottom of the eighth, capping a huge Northwest comeback as the Rangers advanced to the championship game.

Sixth-seeded Northwest (5-11) will play top-seeded Old Forge (11-4) at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at PNC Field in Moosic for the championship. Only the winner advances to the PIAA Class 2A playoffs.

Mason Mott started the eighth by reaching on an error. David Piestrak doubled, sending Mott to third. Brandon Hardiman was then intentional walked to create a force out at home, but the strategy backfired when Hazlet singled in the winning run.

The Rangers were down 6-0 entering the bottom of the fourth, but pieced together five singles to score six times.

Piestrak picked up the win in relief, going 4.1 innings and allowing one run. He was 4-for-5 at the plate with a double and two RBI. Hardiman finished 3-for-4. Hazlet ended with three RBI.

DISTRICT 2 CLASS 3A SEMIFINALS

Mid Valley 1, Hanover Area 0

Mid Valley`AB`R`H`BI

Glinsky cf `3`0`0`0

Mercanti ss`3`0`1`0

Bonacci dh` 3`0`0`0

Kocsis 3b`0`0`0`0

Kucharski 1b`3`0`0`0

Gohsler p`3`0`1`0

Hanicek c`3`0`0`0

Cardenas lf`2`0`0`0

Longo rf`2`1`1`0

Lopez 2b`2`0`1`1

Totals`24`1`4`1

Hanover Area`AB`R`H`BI

Polanco 2b`3`0`0`0

Piscotty cf `3`0`0`0

Clarke p`3`0`0`0

Stefanowicz 3b` 2`0`1`0

Hart c`1`0`0`0

Stevens 1b`0`0`0`0

Mercadante dh`2`0`0`0

Kolbicka ss`2`0`0`0

Quaglia rf`2`0`0`0

Murphy lf`2`0`0`0

Totals`20`0`1`0

Mid Valley`000`001`0 — 1

Hanover Area`000`000`0 — 0

Mid Valley`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Gohsler W`7.0`1`0`0`1`9

Hanover Area `IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Clarke L`7.0`4`1`1`0`10

DISTRICT 2 CLASS 2A SEMIFINALS

Northwest 8, Mountain View 7 (8 inn.)

Mtn. View`AB`R`H`BI

Demanicor c`3`1`0`2

Neri cf`4`2`1`0

DeWolfe ss`4`1`2`0

Showalter p`4`0`1`0

Hanke 2b`0`0`0`0

Scott dh`2`0`1`3

Dougherty 1b`3`0`0`0

Craven rf`5`2`2`0

Bomersheim 1b`2`0`0`0

Rusek lf`4`1`2`1

Totals`31`7`9`6

Northwest`AB`R`H`BI

Piestrak 1b`5`2`4`2

Hardiman ss`4`1`3`1

Hazlet 2b`5`0`2`3

Bukavich cf`4`0`1`0

Gregory lf`4`0`1`0

Ridgley 3b`3`1`0`0

Antolik rf`3`1`1`0

Noss p`0`0`0`0

Boyer dh`4`1`0`0

Mott c`4`2`1`1

Totals`36`8`13`7

Mtn. View`300`310`00 – 7

Northwest`000`601`01 – 8

2B – Showalter, Rusek, Piestrak.

Mtn. View`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Showalter L`7.0`13`8`7`3`4

Northwest`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Noss`0.0`3`3`3`2`0

Ridgley`3.2`3`3`3`5`0

Piestrak W`4.1`3`1`1`4`3

Hanover Area’s Todd Kolbicka throws the ball to first base during Friday’s game against Mid Valley.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL052618HanoverAreaBaseball1.jpgHanover Area’s Todd Kolbicka throws the ball to first base during Friday’s game against Mid Valley. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Hanover Area’s Matt Clarke (33) fist bumps teammate Justin Stefanowicz after an inning against Mid Valley.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL052618HanoverAreaBaseball2.jpgHanover Area’s Matt Clarke (33) fist bumps teammate Justin Stefanowicz after an inning against Mid Valley. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Hanover Area’s Justin Stefanowicz reacts to being called out at second base during Friday’s Class 2A semifinal game in Hanover Township. Stefanowicz’s single to get on base was the lone hit of the day for the Hawkeyes.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL052618HanoverAreaBaseball3.jpgHanover Area’s Justin Stefanowicz reacts to being called out at second base during Friday’s Class 2A semifinal game in Hanover Township. Stefanowicz’s single to get on base was the lone hit of the day for the Hawkeyes. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Hanover Area’s Matt Clarke went the distance and struck out 10 in Friday’s district semifinals, allowing just four hits.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL052618HanoverAreaBaseball4.jpgHanover Area’s Matt Clarke went the distance and struck out 10 in Friday’s district semifinals, allowing just four hits. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

By Dave Rosengrant

For Times Leader

Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLSports

Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLSports