D2 baseball: Northwest upsets Old Forge to win 2A championship

By Dave Rosengrant - For Times Leader
Northwest pitcher Brandon Hardiman, right, slides to third base for a triple as Old Forge third baseman Sean Donovan waits for the throw in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Northwest’s Curtis Gregory, left, heads to the dugout after scoring from first base on a shot to the right-center field gap against Old Forge in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Northwest first baseman David Piestrak, right, catches the throw as Old Forge base runner Patrick Donovan dives back in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Northwest shortstop Joe Ridgely, left, tags out Old Forge’s Brendan Mozeleski after sliding off of second base in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Northwest’s Conner Hazlet fist bumps his first base coach after hitting an RBI single against Old Forge in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

MOOSIC — In the District 2 Class 2A Tournament, Northwest Area has had a theme of coming from behind late to win its first two games.

On Wednesday, the Rangers played in the championship game against Old Forge and were in the unfamiliar position of having a lead late in the game.

Regardless of being in that situation, nothing changed for the team, which won just three times before the tournament started.

The Rangers stuck to the same gameplan and held off top-seeded Old Forge to claim their second district title in three years with a 7-4 win.

“We battled our butts off. That’s all I can say,” said Rangers starting pitcher Brandon Hardiman, who lasted five innings and helped the team score its first run, in regards to his team’s tournament. “Nobody thought we were gonna be here, but we believed in ourselves and we got ourselves here.”

With the win, Northwest – the No. 6 seed in the seven-team bracket – advances to the first round of the PIAA Championships against District 3 champion Camp Hill at a District 2 site to be announced.

“Playing up in the Wyoming Valley Conference has helped us,” Rangers coach Lou DiPasquale said. “Yeah our record says we only have five wins, and now six, but I’ll tell ya what, one inning or two innings here or there and we could’ve come in here with 10 wins just as easy as anyone else.”

In a rematch of last year’s district quarterfinal won by eventual district champion Old Forge, the Rangers opened the scoring first.

After Hardiman tripled down the right field line with one out in the top of the first, he scored on a single from Conner Hazlet to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

The Blue Devils tied it in the bottom of the first, but Northwest put up a crooked number in the second inning, taking advantage of a pair of Old Forge errors. A two-run double by David Piestrak capped a three-run frame and gave the team a 4-1 lead.

Old Forge scored two in the bottom of the third to get within 4-3, but the Rangers kept adding on — scoring one in the fifth and two more in the sixth to open a four-run lead, 7-4.

Piestrak, who went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and two RBI, closed out the win on the mound with a pair of one-hit innings.

“Piestrak came in the way he did and shut it down with strikes,” DiPasquale said. “I don’t know a tougher out right now at any level than David Piestrak.”

DiPasquale said that even though his young team – with just a handful of seniors – had a less than stellar record in the regular season, he believed his team would be in this situation eventually. He pointed to a game against Hanover Area when his team was up 2-1 against the Hawkeyes in the seventh inning before falling short.

“You could tell at that moment that we had some stuff going on,” he said. “It was just a matter of getting the kids in the right spot in the batting order. … You could tell them all year long, ‘Hey guys, we’re gonna win.’ But they have to see it to believe it.”

District 2 Class 2A championship

Northwest 7, Old Forge 4

Northwest`AB`R`H`BI

Piestrak 1b`4`1`2`2

Hardiman p`4`1`1`0

Hazlet 2b` 4`1`2`2

Bukavich cf`2`0`1`1

Gregory lf`2`1`1`0

Ridgely ss`3`0`1`0

Antolik rf`4`1`1`0

Noss 3b`0`0`0`0

Capece dh`3`0`0`0

Mott c`4`2`1`0

Totals`30`7`10`5

Old Forge`AB`R`H`BI

DiGregorio 2b`3`2`2`0

Mozeleski p `4`1`3`2

PDonovan 1b`3`0`0`1

Boettger c`4`0`0`0

Febbo rf` 1`0`0`0

Marsico lf`0`0`0`0

Jones dh`3`0`0`0

DiMattia c`0`0`0`0

Banks ph`1`0`0`0

SDonovan 3b`3`1`2`0

Welsh ss`2`0`0`0

Verespey rf`3`0`0`0

Totals`27`4`7`3

2B — Piestrak; 3B — Hardiman

Northwest`130`012`0 — 7

Old Forge`102`001`0 — 4

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

Hardiman, W `5.0`7`2`2`3`4

Piestrak`2.0`1`1`1`2`2

Old Forge `IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Mozeleski, L`5.2`8`7`4`6`4

Boettger`1.1`2`0`0`0`1

Northwest pitcher Brandon Hardiman, right, slides to third base for a triple as Old Forge third baseman Sean Donovan waits for the throw in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL053118NW-OFBB_1.jpgNorthwest pitcher Brandon Hardiman, right, slides to third base for a triple as Old Forge third baseman Sean Donovan waits for the throw in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Northwest’s Curtis Gregory, left, heads to the dugout after scoring from first base on a shot to the right-center field gap against Old Forge in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL053118NW-OFBB_5.jpgNorthwest’s Curtis Gregory, left, heads to the dugout after scoring from first base on a shot to the right-center field gap against Old Forge in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Northwest first baseman David Piestrak, right, catches the throw as Old Forge base runner Patrick Donovan dives back in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL053118NW-OFBB_4.jpgNorthwest first baseman David Piestrak, right, catches the throw as Old Forge base runner Patrick Donovan dives back in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Northwest shortstop Joe Ridgely, left, tags out Old Forge’s Brendan Mozeleski after sliding off of second base in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL053118NW-OFBB_3.jpgNorthwest shortstop Joe Ridgely, left, tags out Old Forge’s Brendan Mozeleski after sliding off of second base in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Northwest’s Conner Hazlet fist bumps his first base coach after hitting an RBI single against Old Forge in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL053118NW-OFBB_2.jpgNorthwest’s Conner Hazlet fist bumps his first base coach after hitting an RBI single against Old Forge in the District 2 Class 2A baseball championship at PNC Field in Moosic on Wednesday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

By Dave Rosengrant

For Times Leader

Preppers fall short of states

District 2 Class A champion MMI Prep lost in the D2/11 subregional final on Wednesday, falling 9-2 to District 11’s Tri-Valley 9-2 at Pottsville’s Steidle Field.

The Preppers, who knocked off the bracket top seed Forest City on Tuesday, were held without a hit through the first six innings before getting on the board in the seventh.

Keefer Hoover singled to lead off the final frame to end the no-hit bid before Marcus Kassick blasted a two-run homer to snap the shutout.

Tri-Valley would close things out from there to claim the tournament’s lone bid to next week’s state tournament.

MMI Prep ended its season at 7-14 overall, highlighted by the program’s second District 2 championship.